Chargers will open 2021 season on the road vs. Washington

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert looks to pass during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback Justin Herbert and the Chargers will open the 2021 season against Washington.
(Reed Hoffmann / Associated Press)

Coming off an underachieving 2020 season, the Chargers are a popular pick to bounce back and return to playoff contention this year.

On Wednesday, they learned the path before them when the NFL announced its regular-season schedule.

Not surprisingly, for the team that employs young quarterback sensation Justin Herbert, that path will include some national television time.


The Chargers open on the road at Washington on Sept. 12 before returning home in Week 2 to face Dallas in what should be their first SoFi Stadium regular-season date with fans.

They have three home games scheduled for prime time — Monday night against Las Vegas in Week 4, Sunday night against Pittsburgh in Week 11 and Thursday night against Kansas City in Week 15.

The Chargers’ three preseason games (in order) will be against the Rams and San Francisco at SoFi Stadium and then at Seattle.

What we learned from the Chargers’ picks in the NFL draft: Aside from some glowing reviews, the team filled some holes and selected talent over need.

Entering the season, the Chargers have the NFL’s second-longest active winning streak at four games. Only Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay has won more in a row with eight.

A game-by-game look at the regular-season schedule (Times Pacific and subject to change):

Sept. 12: at Washington, 10 a.m., (Ch. 2) — Herbert versus pass-rusher Chase Young in a matchup of 2020 NFL offensive and defensive rookies of the year.

Sept. 19: DALLAS, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 2) These franchises meet for the first time since the Chargers won in Texas 28-6 on Thanksgiving Day, 2017.

Sept. 26: at Kansas City, 10 a.m., (Ch. 2) — Herbert’s first career start came against the Chiefs in Week 2 last year. He and the Chargers almost pulled off a stunning victory, setting up a season of too many near-misses.

Oct. 4: LAS VEGAS, 5:15 p.m.. (ESPN) — Both head coaches played quarterback at Dayton. Said the Chargers’ Brandon Staley of Jon Gruden, “I’ll tell you that I was a little better quarterback than he was.”

Oct. 10: CLEVELAND, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 2) — When these teams last played — in October of 2018 — Baker Mayfield was one of the NFL’s newest, shiniest toys. He and the Browns have evolved into a trendy Super Bowl pick.

Oct. 17: at Baltimore, 10 a.m., (Ch. 2) — The Chargers’ previous visit to Maryland came in the AFC wild-card round during the 2018 season. They built a 23-3 fourth-quarter lead before hanging on for a 23-17 win.

Oct. 24: Off week.

The NFL revealed the complete 2021 regular-season schedule on Wednesday. Here’s the 18-week schedule, including start times and TV streaming options.

Oct. 31: NEW ENGLAND, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 2) — The Chargers haven’t beaten the Patriots since 2008, New England claiming the last six meetings. The Patriots won the 2020 game at SoFi Stadium 45-0.

Nov. 7: at Philadelphia, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 2) — Herbert will have to operate in famously hostile Philly, where the Chargers franchise has played only once since 2005. The 2013 Chargers won 33-30 there in Week 2.

Nov. 14: MINNESOTA, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11) — The Vikings come to SoFi Stadium for the celebrated “extra game,” making 2021 the longest regular season in NFL history.

Nov. 21: PITTSBURGH, 5:20 p.m., (Ch. 4) — When the Steelers visited Dignity Health Sports Park in 2019, the Chargers angered their players by playing a portion of “Renegade” in a gag gone wrong.

Nov. 28: at Denver, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 2) — Staley will face off for the first time with Vic Fangio, the Broncos head coach and the man whose defenses Staley used to study.

Dec. 5: at Cincinnati, 10 a.m., (Ch. 11) — This game will match Herbert against his fellow 2020 first-round draft pick Joe Burrow.

The NFL gave a sneak peek at its 2021 schedule early Wednesday by releasing the Week 1 games for each team. The entire schedule will be announced at 5 p.m. PDT.

Dec. 12: NEW YORK GIANTS, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11) — The Chargers’ first victory after their relocation from San Diego came on Oct. 8, 2017, against the Giants on the road.

Dec. 16: KANSAS CITY, 5:20 p.m., (Ch. 11) — Herbert versus Patrick Mahomes, a quarterback matchup the NFL — and everyone else — will love. Round 2 of 2021 in primetime.

Dec. 26: at Houston, 10 a.m., (Ch. 2) — This could be a potential score-settling date for quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The former Charger lost his job in Week 2 last season after a pregame medical mishap.

Jan. 2: DENVER, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 2) — Among the Chargers’ most-anguishing losses last season was a 31-30 defeat on Nov. 1 in Colorado. They blew a 24-3 third-quarter lead as the Broncos scored the winning touchdown with no time remaining.

Jan. 9: at Las Vegas, 1:25 p.m. (Ch. 2) The Chargers will go up against their former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Another former Charger, cornerback Casey Hayward, also is now a Raider.