Got plans for Thursday night for the next four months? Now you do. The NFL’s weekly Thursday Night Football game is back — kicking off the 2021 NFL season and serving as the start of the new NFL week, for most of the year.
The Thursday Night Football game began in earnest in 2014 and has since expanded and become a permanent fixture of the NFL season. The 2021 season features 16 matchups including divisional rivalries.
Here's everything that you need to know about Thursday Night Football this year —from the complete schedule to how to watch.
2021 Thursday Night Football schedule of games
Week 1: Dallas Cowboys 29, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31
Week 2: New York Giants 29, Washington Football Team 30
Week 3: Carolina Panthers 24, Houston Texans 9
Week 4: Jacksonville Jaguars 21, Cincinnati Bengals 24
Week 5: Los Angeles Rams 26, Seattle Seahawks 17
Week 6: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28, Philadelphia Eagles 22
Week 7: Denver Broncos 14, Cleveland Browns 17
Week 8: Green Bay Packers 24, Arizona Cardinals 21
Week 9: New York Jets 30, Indianapolis Colts 45
Week 10: Baltimore Ravens 10, Miami Dolphins 22
Week 11: New England Patriots 25, Atlanta Falcons 0
Week 12: Buffalo Bills 31, New Orleans Saints 6
Week 13: Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints, 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network
Week 14: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings, 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network
Week 15: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network
Week 16: San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Week 13 matchup preview: Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints
The Thursday Night Football game this week between the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints is one of the most interesting games this weekend, and it features two teams that are both looking to recover after awful November performances.
The Dallas Cowboys (7-4) started the season strong with a 6-1 record in September and October. They were scoring over 30 points per game in that stretch, and they notched wins against strong teams including the L.A. Chargers and New England Patriots.
The spiral started for the Cowboys with their November 7th loss to the Denver Broncos. Dallas starting quarterback Dak Prescott was returning from a calf injury, but he has not looked quite the same. Running back Ezekiel Elliott had his two worst performances of the season in the Cowboys last two games, which were losses against the Chiefs and Raiders. They finished with a 1-3 record for November.
The Cowboys are still in a great position for the playoffs because the other three NFC East division teams all have losing records. Four of their final six games are against those division rivals. First, they need to break their losing streak and get their offense clicking ahead of that make-or-break stretch.
The New Orleans Saints (5-6) had an even worse November than the Cowboys, going 0-4 during the month with two division losses. They are the third-worst team in offensive production in all of the NFL in 2021, and it is hard to see how it will get any better.
The Saints have been hampered by key injuries all season. Their 2021 starting quarterback Jameis Winston is out for the season, and his replacements Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian have struggled. Tight end Adam Trautman and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson are both going to miss multiple games as well. They hope to get star running back Alvin Kamara back from his knee injury this week, but it isn’t clear if he will be ready to play in this game, which is their second straight Thursday matchup.
All is not lost for the Saints. Even at 5-6, they are in the thick of the NFC Wildcard race with the same record as the current 7th seed Washington Football Team. Four of their remaining games are against teams with losing records, so there is still space for them to make the playoffs and hope for the best. Hope is a dangerous thing.
The Cowboys are 4.5 point road favorites against the Saints.
What time and what channel is Thursday Night Football on?
Thursday Night Football games start at 8:20 pm ET. Tune in for pre-game coverage from 7.30 pm.
Thursday Night games hop around between three cable networks throughout the 2021 season.
- NBC: kicks things off with the opening night game featuring the Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It also broadcasts the week 12 Thanksgiving edition of Thursday Night Football that has the Buffalo Bills play the New Orleans Saints.
- The NFL Network: has exclusive broadcast coverage of the Thursday Night Football games for weeks 2, 3, 4 and 16.
- Fox and the NFL Network: will simulcast all the other games (not including the ones NBC has)
NBC and Fox are basic cable networks. Both channels are available through all traditional cable and satellite providers.
The NFL Network is a premium cable network, so you'll need to check if it's available on your cable network.
More than half of the Thursday night games are also available via streaming services. We've got the full breakdown below.
How to watch Thursday Night Football online in the U.S.
An alternative viewing option is to use live TV streaming services like Fubo TV, Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV. All of these services offer live streams of major networks — including the two networks showing the Thursday night games, Fox and NBC. They all carry the NFL Network as well, though it may cost you extra.
This year Amazon Prime Video is getting in on the action — offering live streams of 10 Thursday Night Football games (11 games in total) for the 2021 season.
Amazon's broadcasts start with the week 5 matchup (Rams vs. Seahawks) and continue through week 15. All you need to watch these Thursday Night Football games is a subscription to Amazon Prime.
And, starting in the 2022 NFL season, Amazon Prime Video will be taking over the rights to Thursday Night Football from Fox — sharing with the NFL Network, meaning all Thursday Night Football games will be available for streaming.
The streaming service Twitch is also offering special broadcasts of Thursday Night Football for the remainder of the season. Watching the game on Twitch allows viewers to interact through live chat, see stats, participate in polls and make live predictions.
How to watch Thursday Night Football in Canada
In Canada, Thursday Night games are broadcast on live TV channels CTV2 and TSN. DAZN has the live streaming rights for all Thursday Night games. DAZN offers new subscribers a 30-day free trial of the service.
How to watch Thursday Night Football in the UK
Any NFL fans in the UK can watch Thursday Night Football games live on Sky Sports’ NFL Channel. Sky Sports is the home of live NFL action in the UK, showing live Sunday, Monday and Thursday games. Should be noted though, that with the time difference, the 8:20 pm ET start time means a very late 1:20 am kickoff for UK fans.
If that’s too late (or early) for you, NFL Game Pass is an option. The international version of this subscription service offers on-demand and condensed versions (only featuring the plays) as well as live broadcasts.
How to watch Thursday Night Football online anywhere
If none of those options are available or work for you, don’t worry, there’s a way to watch NFL action from anywhere in the world —a virtual private network. A VPN is designed to route network traffic through a specific set of servers in a specific country, allowing viewers to watch content on an encrypted feed over a computer.
ExpressVPN is one of the easiest and safest ways to watch what you want from anywhere. It's one of our favorite VPNs for speed, simplicity and access to services.
Sign up for an annual plan and get an extra three months for FREE. There's also a no-quibble, money-back guarantee if you change your mind within the first 30 days.
Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.
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