Here are the dates Chargers fans should circle on 2021 NFL schedule

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws against the Denver Broncos.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert passes against the Denver Broncos last season.
(Reed Hoffmann / Associated Press)

The NFL released its 2021 regular-season schedule Wednesday, the Chargers officially aware of the road they’ll have to travel to make it back to the playoffs.

They’ve missed the postseason in consecutive years and now will resume their pursuit with a new head coach in Brandon Staley.


A few highlights of what’s to come:

An eye-opening opener: They are all pros, so there are no layups in the NFL. And the Chargers won’t be permitted to ease into the season.

They not only have to travel to the East Coast to face their first opponent but that opponent will be a Washington team that features a stout defensive front led by budding superstar Chase Young.

The Chargers’ main priority entering the offseason was to rebuild their offensive line. They signed center Corey Linsley and guards Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi in free agency and drafted left tackle Rashawn Slater.

The group will be forced to jell in training camp and the preseason as Week 1 will be a significant test as far as protecting quarterback Justin Herbert.

Slater (Northwestern) and Young (Ohio State) famously matched up in the Big Ten, with Slater performing so well during their 2019 meeting that his NFL stock climbed.

Many seem to remember that game well, including, almost certainly, Young.

The 2021 NFL schedule is being released Wednesday, starting with Week 1 this morning. Justin Herbert and the Chargers will open the season in Washington.

Toughest stretch to survive: Washington is just one of four 2020 playoff teams the Chargers are set to face in the first six weeks. They also travel to Kansas City and Baltimore and play host to Cleveland.

The other two games in that stretch are against Dallas and returning quarterback Dak Prescott, who missed most of last season because of a severe ankle injury, and Las Vegas on a sure-to-be-buzzing Monday night.

Seriously, Raiders fans invading SoFi Stadium with so much prep time figures to be circus-like, painted-up clowns and all.

Such a rigid span could be doubly difficult for a team under a new head coach and operating new systems on offense and defense. The Chargers’ learning curve will be stressed.

They could perform above all expectations and still not have as much as a winning record. Right now, would you take 3-3?

On the plus side, the Chargers then have their scheduled off week before returning to play for 11 consecutive weeks to close the regular season.

Denver Broncos wide receiver K.J. Hamler celebrates his game-tying touchdown.
Denver Broncos wide receiver K.J. Hamler celebrates his game-tying touchdown against the Chargers on Nov. 1, 2020 in Denver.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

An uncomfortable month? By the end of November, the Chargers might be truly giving thanks. The month figures to be the most hostile they encounter.

It begins with a trip to often-ornery Philadelphia and ends with a visit to AFC West rival Denver, where the Chargers lost on the final play of the game last season.

In between, Minnesota and Pittsburgh come to SoFi Stadium, bringing their legions of fans with them.

The NFL 2021 schedule has been released, and highlights many relocated quarterbacks facing their old teams.

The faithful of the Vikings and Steelers both overran the Chargers’ previous home, Dignity Health Sports Park, during games in 2019. That fall, Pittsburgh won in Carson in October 24-17 and Minnesota in December 39-10.

Both occasions felt like road games for a Chargers team that was en route to a rough 5-11 finish that marked the end of the Philip Rivers era.

Where the Chargers sit standings-wise could impact the makeup of the SoFi crowds on Nov. 14 (Minnesota) and Nov. 21 (Pittsburgh) and also influence the outcomes.

New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty scoops up a blocked field goal as Chargers punter Ty Long give chase.
New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) scoops up a blocked field goal as Chargers punter Ty Long (1) give chase in vain for a touchdown on the last play of the first half at SoFi Stadium on Dec. 6, 2020.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Narratives, narratives, narratives: As with every season, this one has plenty of potentially juicy story lines for the Chargers and their opponents. Among the most prominent:

Week 8: New England makes a trip to face the Chargers for the second consecutive season. In December, the Patriots pummeled the home team 45-0 at SoFi Stadium. That’s the largest margin of defeat in Chargers history.

Week 13: Young quarterback standouts Herbert and Joe Burrow tangle for the first time. Burrow was taken No. 1 overall by Cincinnati in 2020 and Herbert No. 6 by the Chargers. The only game Herbert didn’t start as a rookie came when the Chargers visited Burrow and the Bengals to open the season.

Week 16: Depending on what happens at quarterback for Houston, Tyrod Taylor could be a prominent NFL figure this week. Taylor began last season as the Chargers’ starter but was knocked out of the lineup because of a medical mishap minutes before kickoff in Week 2 and lost his job to Herbert before he could return to the field. He signed with the Texans as a free agent in March.

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

Bonus preseason note: The first NFL game at SoFi Stadium with fans figures to come when the Chargers and Rams meet in the preseason opener in early August.

The matchup will be a home game for the Rams, meaning the Chargers will be subjected to endless public-address cries of “Whose House?!” For a preseason game post pandemic restrictions, the atmosphere could be legitimately electric.

The “Whose House?!” theme should go over particularly well given the widely perceived notion that the Chargers are merely guests being allowed to use the Rams’ home stadium.