NEW YORK -- Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will open the defense of their Super Bowl crown against the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL revealed Thursday as the league confirmed the return of international fixtures in London for the 2021 season.
The Bucs will face the Cowboys at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium on September 9, as the new campaign kicks off at the venue where Brady clinched his seventh Super Bowl title against the Kansas City Chiefs in February.
The game could also mark the return of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott following his season-ending ankle injury. The Cowboys finished last season with a 6-10 record and failed to reach the playoffs.
The Buccaneers are aiming to become the first back-to-back Super Bowl champions since Brady and the New England Patriots achieved the feat in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Other opening weekend highlights will see Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City face a duel with Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns in a rematch of last season's divisional-round thriller won by the Chiefs.
Discarded New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, meanwhile, will get the opportunity to get revenge over his former team when they travel to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers on September 12.
The Jets traded away Darnold to the Panthers last month and are expected to start rookie quarterback Zach Wilson this season, which is the first under new head coach Robert Saleh.
Games will return to London this season after being scrapped last year due to Covid-19.
Two games will be held at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with the Jets hosting the Atlanta Falcons on October 10 before the Miami Dolphins face the Jacksonville Jaguars a week later.
It means an international debut for Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the number one pick in last month's draft who is widely regarded as one of the most talented college players to enter the NFL in years.
Lawrence will face off against the Dolphins and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in what is a rematch of their college football rivalry.
Lawrence led the Clemson Tigers to the National Championship in 2019 when Tagovailoa was quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Other marquee match-ups in the expanded 17-game schedule released on Wednesday include Brady's first return to New England -- where he won six Super Bowl titles before decamping to Tampa Bay -- when the Patriots host the Buccaneers on October 3.
Mahomes and Kansas City host the Buffalo Bills on October 10 in a rematch of last season's AFC championship game.
The Seattle Seahawks have to wait until week 15 -- on December 19 -- to get a shot at the Los Angeles Rams, who ousted them in the playoffs last year.
© Agence France-Presse