The 2021 NFL season schedule has not yet been released, but the opponents for every team is already known.
Based on how this off-season has progressed thus far, let’s take a look at some notable revenge games that will take place in 2021.
Tom Brady vs Bill Belichick
This game has been circled since Brady left New England in 2020 to sign with Tampa Bay. Coming off his 7th Super Bowl victory, Brady has surpassed Belichick’s 6 championships and has proven he can win without him. So, you know the coach will be out for revenge in this game, and this season, to prove he can have the same level of success without Brady.
Gronk vs Patriots
Same game, different story.
Before “retiring” after the 2018 season, Rob Gronkowski was considered by most to be the “greatest tight end of all-time”. Third all-time in touchdowns by a TE (86), no one impacted a game like Gronk.
The Patriots have gotten virtually no production from the TE position in the two years since Gronk’s departure. After winning 3 Super Bowls alongside Brady and Belichick, Gronk resurfaced in Tampa in 2020 with Brady, where he won #4. You can bet Belichick will unleash his new weapons (Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry) as he looks to exact revenge against Gronk.
Cam Newton vs Panthers
Despite some struggles in 2020, Newton re-signed with the Patriots and “as of now” is the starting QB for 2021. Whether he remains the starter or even starts this specific game is TBD, but it’s fun to think about the 2015 MVP facing the team in which he holds almost all of the QB records and once drafted him #1 overall.
JJ Watt and Deandre Hopkins vs Texans
In 2020, Texans inexplicably traded a top 2 WR in the league, Deandre Hopkins, for basically nothing (notably, did NOT receive a first round pick). In 2021, JJ Watt was released by the Texans, meaning the Texans received nothing in return too. Watt signed with Cardinals, reuniting him with Hopkins.
In summary, Texans received ZERO real compensation (sorry, David Johnson) for two of the franchise’s best players all-time. Both will be highly motivated to prove their worth vs a Texans team that is poised to be among the league’s worst in 2021.
Matthew Stafford vs Lions/Jared Goff vs Rams
The off-season kicked off right before the Super Bowl, when the Lions and Rams swapped former #1 pick QBs. Matthew Stafford, with the Lions since 2009, was traded to the Rams, for 2016 #1 pick Jared Goff. Despite Goff starting a Super Bowl for the Rams in 2018, the team wanted an upgrade at QB to go with their Super Bowl caliber defense. Despite an 0-3 career playoff record, Stafford is definitely a major upgrade over Goff and both QBs will certainly try to prove their value in this game.
Another story here is DL Michael Brockers, a first round pick of the Rams in 2012 (#14 overall), was traded to Detroit in a separate deal for a 7th round pick. Brockers missed just 6 games in 9 years with the franchise and will certainly be out for revenge.
Patrick Peterson vs Cardinals
Peterson was the 5th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and spent his entire career in Arizona. Peterson played 16 games every season, except 2019 when he missed 6 games.He has 28 career interceptions and after 10 years with the Cardinals, will help boost the Vikings defense.
Corey Davis vs Titans
Davis was the 5th overall pick in the 2017 draft and was a bit of a disappointment. He was much better as a #2 option, alongside AJ Brown the last two seasons, than he was as the lead guy, which is what he will be with the NY Jets. He has 11 touchdown catches in 56 career games.
Bud Dupree vs Steelers
Dupree was the 22nd overall pick for the Steelers in 2015. He has missed just 15 games (9 of those coming in 2016) and accumulated 39.5 sacks over 6 years. He signed a 5 year, $85 million deal with the Titans to help boost their pass rush.
Will Fuller vs Texans
Fuller caught 24 TDs in five seasons (including a career-high 8 in 2020) and has never played all 16 games. He signed a 1-year deal with the Dolphins.
Carl Lawson vs Bengals
Lawson signed a 4 year contract with the Jets, after recording 20 sacks in four seasons with the Bengals, after he was a 4th round pick in 2017.
Kyle Rudolph vs Vikings
Rudolph had 48 TD catches in 10 seasons with the Vikings, the only team he ever played for. He signed with the Giants, to give young QB Daniel Jones another experienced weapon on offense.
Hunter Henry vs Chargers
After applying the franchise tag in 2020, Chargers let Henry walk in 2021 and he signed with the Patriots. In his four healthy seasons, Henry, a second round pick in 2017, caught at least 4 TDs and exceed 550 yards receiving in 3 of those 4 seasons.
Jonnu Smith vs Titans
Like Henry, Smith signed with the Patriots after being a day 2 draft pick in 2017 (third round). Smith served mostly as a backup to Delanie Walker in Tennessee, but did exceed 400 yards each of the last two seasons and broke out with 8 TDs in 2020 as a full-time starter.
Andy Dalton vs Bengals
We’ll see if this game happens – Bears and Dalton both claim was signed to be QB1, but I remain skeptical. Dalton compiled a 70-61-2 record in 9 seasons as the Bengals starter. In 2020, he was signed to be the Cowboys backup, but wound up starting 9 games, one of which was a 30-7 victory in Cincinnati. Dalton threw 2 TDs and had zero turnovers against his former team.
Curtis Samuel vs Panthers
Samuel was a second round pick in 2017 and played for current WFT coach Ron Rivera for three years in Carolina. Without Rivera, in 2020, he had career numbers (77 catches, 851 yards). He will look to continue his upward trajectory as he reunites with Rivera in Washington.
Bonus – Jameis Winston vs Bucs
The other games on this list are mostly related to 2021 off-season moves, while this was a move made in 2020. Jameis Winston spent 2020 as a backup to Drew Brees and is expected to start for the Saints in 2021. Winston actually threw his first career playoff TD pass vs the Bucs in the second round of this year’s playoffs. Now, he will make his first start against the team that drafted him #1 overall in 2015.