A cord-cutter’s guide for the NFL 2021 season

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Despite the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL looks to have a relatively normal season this year, with full stadiums and even an extra week of football as the league moves to a 17-game schedule. And cord-cutters won’t have to miss out on any of the action. More than any other sports league, the NFL has consistently embraced new ways to present its games.There are now more options than ever for getting your gridiron on once the season gets underway on Thursday, September 9, with a matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Super Bowl LV champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Here’s our guide to all your streaming options, updated for the 2021 season.

Use an over-the-air antenna

Unlike the NBA, NHL, or MLB, the NFL plays a simple 17-game schedulem, with each team playing one game a week. That lends itself to predictable TV programming. The league splits the Sunday afternoon telecasts by conference: generally, AFC games air on CBS at 1:00 p.m. and 4:05 p.m. ET, and Fox runs the NFC games at 1:00 p.m. and 4:25 p.m. ET.

NBC hosts the popular Sunday Night Football broadcast, which kicks off at 8:20 p.m. ET. All you’ll need is an over-the-air TV antenna and reasonable proximity to a broadcast tower. You’ll find our top antenna picks here.

This year, Thursday Night Football (TNF) will air exclusively on the cable-only NFL Network in weeks 2 through 4 and in week 16. Fox will air TNF from weeks 5 through 15 (with the exception of Thanksgiving night), as well as the Christmas game between the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers. All the Fox games will be simulcast on the NFL Network and the Spanish-language Fox Deportes as well as streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

That leaves out only the iconic Monday Night Football game on cable-only ESPN, to which you can get access via one of the streaming options below.

If this abundance of TV offerings has your head swimming like you just took a bone-crushing hit from J.J. Watt, check out 506Sports.com or Sports Media Watch. Each site lists which game is on which channel for each week of the season. Bookmark them for easy access.

thursday night footballNFL Network

You’ll need a cable-TV subscription to watch Thursday Night Football on the NFL Network in weeks, two, three, four, and 16, but Amazon Prime Video will stream all the games that Fox will carry this year.

Streaming

Even if you don’t have a cable subscription or a TV antenna, you still have plenty of options for catching all the pro pigskin action. Streaming options continue to expand each season, offering plenty of ways to tailor your viewing. But while we highlight what each service offers, the availability of individual channels’ live content can vary by market. It pays to check via each service’s website to see what it offers in your area before subscribing.

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