The Browns will open the 2021 season against the reigning AFC champions, host multiple national spotlight games at FirstEnergy Stadium and hit the road for a holiday matchup against one of the NFL's most storied franchises.
The NFL's 32 teams respectively announced their preseason and regular season schedules Thursday. The first 17-game regular season schedule in Browns history features two primetime games against AFC North foes and a Halloween showdown with the Steelers as well as cross-divisional games with the AFC West and NFC North.
|1||Sept. 12||at Kansas City Chiefs||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|2||Sept. 19||Houston Texans||1 p.m.||CBS|
|3||Sept. 26||Chicago Bears||1 p.m.||FOX|
|4||Oct. 3||at Minnesota Vikings||1 p.m.||CBS|
|5||Oct. 10||at Los Angeles Chargers||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|6||Oct. 17||Arizona Cardinals||4:05 p.m.||FOX|
|7||Oct. 21 (Thu.)||Denver Broncos||8:20 p.m.||FOX/NFLN/AMZ|
|8||Oct. 31||Pittsburgh Steelers||1 p.m.||CBS|
|9||Nov. 7||at Cincinnati Bengals||1 p.m.||CBS|
|10||Nov. 14||at New England Patriots||1 p.m.||CBS|
|11||Nov. 21||Detroit Lions||1 p.m.||FOX|
|12||Nov. 28||at Baltimore Ravens||8:20 p.m.||NBC|
|14||Dec. 12||Baltimore Ravens||1 p.m.||CBS|
|15||Dec. 18/19||Las Vegas Raiders||TBD||TBD|
|16||Dec. 25 (Sat.)||at Green Bay Packers||4:30 p.m.||FOX/NFLN/AMZ|
|17||Jan. 3 (Mon.)||at Pittsburgh Steelers||8:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|18||Jan. 9||Cincinnati Bengals||1 p.m.||CBS|
"It's definitely a fun day for our fans," Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "You start to see when we're playing everybody and hopefully start getting those tickets to some of these road cities so they can be a part of these road games for us. We as coaches certainly pay attention to it and start to map out certain things, whether it be our Week 1 opponent or looking at the schedule in its entirety and figuring out where you're going to plan practices accordingly."
Cleveland opens the season where it finished 2020: Kansas City. The Browns will square off against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 of the 2021 season. The game will kick off at 4:25 p.m. and serve as a featured matchup in CBS' slate of games to open the 2021 season.
The Browns will return to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 12, for the first time since their AFC Divisional Matchup earlier in the year with the Chiefs, a hard-fought playoff matchup that saw Cleveland fall, 22-17.
"Every year stands on its own merit. For us, the focus is on the 2021 season," Stefanski said. "Now, I realize that last game, last year ended in Kansas City, so that certainly is something we have to learn from. It will truly be a matchup that is unique to 2021. The game won't start in the fifth quarter from last year's game."
The Browns will host nine regular season games at FirstEnergy Stadium for the first time in franchise history. They'll play their first at home Week 2 (1 p.m.) against the Houston Texans and spend a large chunk of October on the shores of Lake Erie with three consecutive games at FirstEnergy Stadium from Weeks 6-8. That stretch includes a Week 7, Thursday Night Football matchup with the Denver Broncos and a Week 8 Halloween game against the Pittsburgh Steelers — their first AFC North game of the season.
The Browns' Week 6 game against the Cardinals at FirstEnergy Stadium is essentially the 17th game on this year's schedule, as the NFL added cross-conference matchups pitting teams against each other that finished in the same place within their respective division in the previous season. The other AFC North teams will similarly square off against teams from the NFC West. All AFC teams will play nine home games in 2021, and the NFC will do the same in 2022.
"This year, homefield advantage might be bigger than any year in recent memory with teams dealing with crowd noise week in and week out," Stefanski said. "We're really excited to have nine home games in front of our fans in front of what I hope is a packed building. I know what it sounded like with 12,000, so I can't wait to see what it's like with 67,895.
The Browns' 2021 regular-season schedule has been released. Check out how the season unfolds with this photo gallery
Five of the Browns' final nine games will be against division foes, including two in primetime, national spotlight windows. Cleveland travels to Baltimore in Week 12 for Sunday Night Football and will take on Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football in Week 17. It will mark just the third time the Browns and Steelers have met on Monday Night Football and the first since 1995. Cleveland and Baltimore have squared off on Sunday Night Football two previous times, the most recent being in 2004.
The Browns' Week 13 bye week — one of the last weeks for byes league-wide — is sandwiched between games against the Ravens. It will mark just the second time in franchise history the Browns have faced the same team in back-to-back games during the regular season. The last time it happened was 1957, when the Browns and Eagles split games in consecutive weeks.
"The Ravens are a team we have a tremendous amount of respect for, so we know we have our work cut out for us," Stefanski said. "There are some really challenging matchups in our division, which is how we expect it."
The Browns, who will celebrate their 75th anniversary throughout the 2021 season, will do something they've never done before when they travel to Green Bay for a Christmas Day game with the Packers. The 4:30 p.m. national spotlight game — the team's first-ever on Christmas — will air on FOX, NFL Network and will also be available on Amazon Prime.
"Lambeau's a place I know well. It's an incredible stadium," Stefanski said. "It's a matchup I know our fans will be excited about on Christmas Day and we're looking forward to playing in such a storied place like Lambeau."
The Browns will close the 2021 regular season Jan. 9, 2022, against the Cincinnati Bengals, marking the 12th straight year the team has capped the year against a division foe. It's the second time in the last three years the Browns have closed a season against their in-state rival, whom they'll face earlier in the year in Cincinnati in Week 9.
Cleveland's three-game preseason schedule was also announced Wednesday.
The three-game slate features road games at Jacksonville and Atlanta and a home matchup sandwiched between against the New York Giants. The only preseason game with a set date for the preseason is the Browns' Aug. 29 game against the Falcons, which will kick off at 8 p.m. and air nationally on NBC. News 5, the preseason home of the Browns, will carry the other two games.
|1||TBD||at Jacksonville Jaguars||TBD||News 5|
|2||TBD||New York Giants||TBD||News 5|
|3||Aug. 29||at Atlanta Falcons||8 p.m.||NBC|