17 storylines in Buffalo Bills’ 2021 schedule

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The Buffalo Bills’ 2021 schedule was released with a twist last week. There’s an added 17th game, but in a way, this slate of games is the same as it always is in the NFL.

Each and every week, there’s at least one storyline to follow between the two teams. Sometimes there’s multiple.

Keeping it at a 1-1 ratio, here’s one storyline for each of the Bills’ 17 games in 2021:

Week 1 vs. Steelers

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Last hurrah for Ben?

The top headline of the early offseason in the NFL was with the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. In order to realistically play for them in 2021, he had to restructure his contract. He did just that, but Roethlisberger is no spring chicken. This season could be his last go with the Steelers and it might be impetrative for them to get off to a good start. The Bills will have something to say about that in Week 1.

Week 2: at Dolphins

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Is it time?

Specifically, we mean Tua time aka Tua Tagovailoa. This offseason, the Dolphins did not re-sign quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who would spell in for Tagovailoa whenever he struggled last season. The front office then started to build more around their young quarterback, signaling they're backing Tagovailoa as their guy under center. Bills-Dolphins Week 2 is simple: Is it or is it not Tua time for Miami?

Week 3: vs. Football Team

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Fitz-Magic

He's back... most likely. Fitzpatrick is not with the Dolphins, but he is with the Football Team after signing there as a free agent. The early offseason feeling in Washington is that Fitzpatrick will probably be starting when his new team travels to Buffalo in Week 3. Fitzpatrick is in a QB competition with the likes of Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke.

Week 4: vs. Texans

Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

One or the other

When the Texans end up in Orchard Park, it'll be one of two storylines: Hey, Deshaun Watson is still there. Or, hey, it's our old friend Tyrod Taylor starting against the Bills.

Week 5: at Chiefs

Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

2020 revenge tour

AFC title game revenge. Easy, and it's prime time.

Week 6: at Titans

Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)

COVID revenge

Clearly the overall spectrum of COVID is much larger than the Titans, but last year they blew out the Bills. Some might point to their bout with the virus as to why that happened. The game was eventually pushed all the way to a Tuesday evening and the Bills did not look like themselves. This game is also going to be on prime time (MNF) and the Bills will be looking to show the Titans and NFL that they were only beaten last season because of the Titans' mix up with COVID causing tons of schedule changes.

Week 7: Bye

Detailed view of the NFL shield logo at midfield during Super Bowl LIII between the Los Angeles Rams. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Week 8: vs. Dolphins

A fan wearing a chewbacca costume in the stands during the game between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

A scary outing

One has to think that this game will be fun in the stands. It's taking place on Halloween. But on the field, we'll probably get an extension of Week 2. Is it still Tua time? Also overall, as a team, some expect the Dolphins to close the gap with the Bills this year. Bare minimum, some analyst believe Miami will be a Wild Card team and the second-place finisher in the AFC East. By Week 8, we'll get a look at how serious they are.

Week 9: at Jaguars

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. credit: Logan Bowles/NFL Handout photo via USA TODAY Network

The No. 1, what else?

One can only expect all the hype around this one to be surrounding Trevor Lawrence. The top-touted prospect ahead of the 2021 NFL draft for a long, long time... how does he look in the first time in his career against the Bills?

Week 10: at Jets

Zach Wilson stands onstage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

New friend

After the 2018 NFL draft, many expected it to be a decades worth of battles between quarterbacks Josh Allen and Sam Darnold. Well, so much for that. Right behind Lawrence the Jets selected quarterback Zach Wilson. It'll be the first time he faces the Bills in an AFC East meeting.

Week 11: vs. Colts

Bills outside linebacker Matt Milano. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)

Their revenge

The overall NFL storyline heading into this one is quarterback Carson Wentz. By Week 11, we'll know how his adjustment to his new team has gone. If he's doing well enough, the Colts will want to get their revenge on the Bills, assuming both of these sides are doing well. The 2020 AFC Wild Card meeting between the two teams will be the center of attention in this game.

Week 12: at Saints

Bills' Josh Allen waves a towel motivating fans. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Another Thanksgiving extravaganza

The Bills are going back to playing on Thanksgiving again. This time it'll be against the Saints down in New Orleans. While their most-recent matchup on Thanksgiving was against the Cowboys, not the Saints, it was still a big game. That was when Allen... kind of burst onto the national scene. Everyone was impressed with him. Leading up to this game, it'll be a point of emphasis.

Week 13: at Patriots

Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Who are the Bills facing?

While this question will be answered by the time this game comes about, it's still going to be the point of emphasis. Is Cam Newton still starting for the Patriots? If he is, Newton's probably back on track in the NFL after injuries derailed him. If it's not Newton, it'll be rookie Mac Jones. Another Bills vs. rookie storyline. Regardless, it'll be played on Monday Night Football, too... and it's the Bills' lone home prime-time game next season.

Week 14: at Buccaneers

Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tom vs. time

Sorry, Gronk. This one is going to be all about Tom Brady and whether or not he still owns the Bills.

Week 15: vs. Panthers

Welcome back, Sam!

Sam Darnold being back in Buffalo after he was traded to the Panthers from the Jets. How his season is going at this point of the year will be interesting to see.

Week 16: at Patriots

Quarterback Cam Newton. Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Still the AFC East's finest?

With the season almost over at this point, this game could be a pivotal matchup in the AFC standings and the division. Do the Bills still reign supreme over the Patriots, or are they back? On the flip side, it could be a chance for Buffalo to dance on the Pats' grave in another season without the playoffs.

Week 17: vs. Falcons

Bills head coach Sean McDermott meets with his quarterback Josh Allen (Gannett photo)

Strictly business

Unless the Bills somehow trade for wide receiver Julio Jones, this game is going to be strictly about the postseason. Where do the Bills sit? With a win, would the season finale matter?

Week 18: vs. Jets

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen(Gannett photo)

Does it matter?

Two storylines again, but for the Bills, it's simple. This season finale against the Jets in recent years has been all about the backups playing. Do we see maybe Jake Fromm get in? Mitchell Trubisky? If things go according to plan, the Bills could be resting guys again. But for the Jets... we'll get a peep at how their rebuild has gone, too. Do they look better heading into 2022?

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