Who plays on Thursday night football tonight? Time, TV channel, schedule for NFL Week 1

Written By Jacob Camenker
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Get excited. The 2021 NFL season is kicking off on Thursday night. The league is beginning its season with its usual Thursday night football season opener, and the NFL is having the reigning Super Bowl champions host the contest for the second straight year after departing from that tradition for its 100th season.

The Buccaneers will have a chance to host a game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Thursday. The Bucs became the first team to win a Super Bowl on home soil back in February, so the return to their home stadium will be extra sweet.

As the Bucs unveil their banner, they will look to start the season with a win — something they couldn't do last year. They will have to take down a quality NFC offense that is coming off a down year but is fully healthy coming into 2021. It should be a high-powered evening for the offense.

Below is everything to know about that matchup, plus everything you need to know to watch the NFL season-opener Thursday night

MORE: Watch Cowboys vs. Buccaneers live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)

Who plays on Thursday night football tonight?

  • Matchup: Cowboys vs. Buccaneers
  • Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

The Buccaneers will host the Cowboys in a battle of two great-looking NFC offenses featuring a couple of strong quarterbacks.

Dak Prescott is making his return to action for the Cowboys after an ankle injury sidelined him for most of last season. He dealt with a unique shoulder injury during the 2021 preseason, but he is, by all accounts, healthy ahead of this game. He'll look to elevate a Dallas offense that struggled without him last year and features strong skill-position talent like Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

The Bucs, meanwhile, will trot 44-year-old Tom Brady onto the field at quarterback. Brady is set to play his 22nd season and second in Tampa Bay. He led the Bucs to a Super Bowl title last season and the team will be returning all of its starters from that game. That includes a strong receiving corps headlined by Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski.

There should be plenty of fireworks in the NFL's season opener considering the strength of each offense. That said, Tampa Bay had one of the league's best defenses last year, so they certainly have the advantage — especially considering that they're playing front of a home crowd and are celebrating a Super Bowl win.

What time is the NFL game tonight?

  • Date: Thursday, Sept. 9
  • Time: 8:20 p.m. ET

The Cowboys and Buccaneers will square off at 8:20 p.m. ET with NBC's pregame coverage of the contest and NFL kickoff beginning at 7 p.m. For Cowboys fans, the contest will begin at 7:20 p.m. with pregame coverage at 6 p.m., as Dallas is in the central time zone.

Throughout the season, all Thursday night games will kick off at 8:20 p.m. ET. The only Thursday with day games will be Thanksgiving, per usual.

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers will be played at Raymond James Stadium, both the home of the Buccaneers and the location at which they won Super Bowl 55.

What channel is Thursday night football on tonight?

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers will be broadcast on NBC. Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (color analyst) and Michele Tafoya (sidleine reporter) will be on the call as NBC's "Sunday Night Football" team for 2021.

And yes, though this game is being broadcast on Thursday night, it still is, technically, considered a "Sunday Night Football" game. Why? Because Fox owns the rights to "Thursday Night Football." So, don't be confused if they refer to the program as "Sunday Night Football" throughout the evening.

Below are the top TV markets in the United States and the NBC affiliate/TV channel for each.

Market NBC TV channel (digital)
New York 4 (36)
Los Angeles 4 (36)
Chicago 5 (29)
Philadelphia 10 (34)
Dallas-Ft. Worth 5 (24)
San Francisco/Bay area 11 (12)
Washington D.C. 4 (48)
Houston 2 (35)
Boston 15 (43)
Atlanta 11 (10)
Phoenix 12 (12)
Tampa/St. Petersburg 8 (7)
Seattle 5 (48)
Detroit 4 (45)
Minneapolis-St. Paul 11 (11)
Miami 6 (31)
Denver 9 (9)
Orlando 2 (11)
Cleveland 3 (17)
Sacramento 3 (35)
Charlotte 36 (22)
Portland 8 (8)
St. Louis 5 (35)
Pittsburgh 11 (23)
Baltimore 11 (11)
Raleigh-Durham 5 (48)
Nashville 4 (10)
San Diego 39 (40)
Salt Lake City 5 (38)
San Antonio 3 (16)
Kansas City 41 (36)
Columbus 4 (14)
Milwaukee 4 (28)
Cincinnati 5 (35)
Las Vegas 3 (22)
Jacksonville 12 (13)
Oklahoma City 4 (27)
New Orleans 6 (43)
Memphis 5 (5)
Buffalo 2 (33)

Streamers will be able to watch the game via NBCSports.com, the Fox NBC Sports app or by using fuboTV, which comes with a seven-day free trial.

Meanwhile, viewers in Canada can watch the game exclusively on DAZN with a subscription.

WEEK 1 NFL PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread

NFL live stream for Thursday night game

The 2021 NFL season-opener is being broadcast on NBC, so the game will be available to stream live on NBCSports.com. This should be the preferred streaming method for cable/satellite subscribers that can't get in front of a TV.

Cord-cutters will have plenty of options to watch the Cowboys vs. Buccaneers game. They are as follows.

Streaming option Cable subscription needed? Free? Cost Free trial?
NBC Sports Yes Yes - -
NFL App No Yes - -
Yahoo! Sports App No Yes - -
fuboTV No No $60/month Yes
AT&T TV Now No No $55/month Yes
Hulu Plus Live TV No No $55/month Yes
Sling TV No No $30/month Yes
YouTube TV No No $65/month Yes

MORE: The NFL's 25 highest-paid players of 2021

NFL Week 1 schedule

Per usual, Week 1 of the NFL season will begin with a Thursday night game featuring the reigning Super Bowl champions. However, there is no "Monday Night Football" doubleheader this year, a departure of recent tradition for the NFL. The Raiders will host the Ravens in the lone Monday night game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

The other prime-time game this week features the new-look Rams playing host to the Bears. Matthew Stafford will see a familiar foe quarterbacked by a new face, Andy Dalton.

Below is the complete Week 1 schedule for the start of the 2021 NFL season.

Thursday, Sept. 9

Game Kickoff time TV channel
Cowboys at Buccaneers 8:20 p.m. ET NBC

Sunday, Sept. 12

Game Kickoff time TV channel
Jaguars at Texans 1 p.m. ET CBS
Chargers at Washington Football Team 1 p.m. ET CBS
Seahawks at Colts 1 p.m. ET Fox
Jets at Panthers 1 p.m. ET CBS
Vikings at Bengals 1 p.m. ET Fox
Cardinals at Titans 1 p.m. ET CBS
49ers at Lions 1 p.m. ET Fox
Steelers at Bills 1 p.m. ET CBS
Eagles at Falcons 1 p.m. ET Fox
Browns at Chiefs 4:25 p.m. ET CBS
Packers at Saints 4:25 p.m. ET Fox
Broncos at Giants 4:25 p.m. ET Fox
Dolphins at Patriots 4:25 p.m. ET CBS
Bears at Rams 8:20 p.m. ET NBC

Monday, Sept. 13

Game Kickoff time TV channel
Ravens at Raiders 8:15 p.m. ET ESPN

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