The NFL doesn't do small. Or quiet.
When the Mighty Shield does something as seemingly simple as announce when games will be played, it's big and it's loud. It also comes with a fancy name — 2021 NFL Schedule by AWS — and a three-hour prime-time televised event called "Schedule Release '21 presented by Verizon!"
The opponents and venues for all 32 teams are known. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the league will announce the dates and starting times for its first 17-game regular season, which will be played over 18 weeks and end Jan. 9. Those 272 games will then be discussed for the next three hours on NFL Network, NFL.com and the NFL app.
Among the questions waiting to be answered are:
• When will Tom Brady return to New England with his reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers? Bill Belichick awaits with a 7-9 team that set a league record for spending in free agency and then drafted a quarterback (Alabama's Mac Jones) in the first round.
• Who will Brady and the Bucs play host to Sept. 9, the Thursday night season opener that traditionally features a home game for the Super Bowl champions? The Bucs host Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago, Buffalo, Dallas, Miami and the Giants. Odds-on favorite? Dallas for Dak Prescott's return and TV's infatuation with a Cowboys team that has four playoff wins since its last Super Bowl victory 26 years ago. Dark horse: Buffalo as a potential Super Bowl preview.
• Does the NFL think Aaron Rodgers still will be a participating Packer this fall? If so, Green Bay's road games against Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and Lamar Jackson in Baltimore are no-doubt prime-time games. For what it's worth, the logo for the "Schedule Release '21 by Verizon!" features photos of Rodgers, Mahomes and Brady.
• How will the NFC fare as the road teams for the extra game this season? The Vikings drew a second West Coast trip because they finished third in the NFC North while the Chargers finished third in the AFC West. Just don't expect sympathy from Packers fans. Their team drew the trip to Kansas City as its extra game.
• When will Buffalo travel to Kansas City for a rematch of the AFC Championship Game?
• When will Rams quarterback and former Lion Matthew Stafford play host to Lions quarterback and former Ram Jared Goff?
• Who will 2021 No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence face with the Jaguars in his NFL debut? Perhaps 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow in Cincinnati?
• Will the Vikings be warm or frostbitten while facing Rodgers — or Jordan Love? — at Lambeau Field?
• And when will Vikings fans be given the chance — hopefully — to once again loudly harass a Packers quarterback in person at U.S. Bank Stadium?
After a season of playing in stadiums with little to no fans because of the pandemic, the NFL is expecting a return to packed houses in 2021. The first step toward filling those stadiums with ticket-buyers comes with Wednesday night's "Schedule Release '21 presented by Verizon!"
It won't be small. Or quiet.