With the United States thawing from its COVID-19 travel freeze, Buffalo Bills fans will be back on the road in 2021. In 2020, we missed epic trips to Las Vegas and San Francisco, among other NFL cities, but now we can look to 2021 road games to see which are the best.
Factors on my list include time of year, opponent, day and time, and frequency of visit to the location. Leave your list in the comments and tell me where I am wrong.
For the record, if you can only go to one game in 2021, I think the home opener is going to be a freaking party that blows the metaphorical roof off the stadium. It’s by far the number-one game on the schedule, with fans ready to celebrate a great 2020 season and the return to normalcy.
1a. New Orleans Saints, Thanksgiving night
I struggled to put this one first, I really did. I love Thanksgiving so much and love spending time with family eating turkey and we missed that in 2020. Still, heading down to New Orleans on Wednesday for a four-night late November vacation sounds pretty darn awesome, especially if you can get a group together. This one is all about being able to visit the city, as I’m personally not expecting the Saints to be that good in 2021.
1b. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday December 12 late afternoon
Buffalo doesn’t often play in Tampa, and this is the coveted December trip from the snow to the Florida sun. It’s a late afternoon game so you get extra tailgate time, plus the cool experience of going from the sun to under the lights. It might be the last time the Bills ever play Tom Brady and get a chance to slay the beast. You might even be able to make it to a half-day of work on Monday if you had to, but no flights (with tickets available) are leaving Tampa after 7:30 p.m. I’m not as sold on the town as I am with New Orleans.
3. Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday night October 10
An away game on Sunday Night Football would normally be further down the list for me but with a lot of folks having Monday off work for the federal holiday, it would be the capstone of a heckuva three-day weekend. KC barbecue, electric venue, and extra hours of tailgating add up to a huge trip. If this was opening weekend or later in the year with a playoff atmosphere, it could have moved up the list. There is a clear demarcation between the top three games and the rest.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday November 7
Maybe we are getting the first snows by this time, so it’s a warm-weather trip at least. Bills fans haven’t visited North Florida during the regular season since 2015, but they did make a playoff appearance following the 2017 season. A new QB and coach could be foundering by this point in the year or just starting to gel. Also important to note; there are no non-stop flights from Buffalo to Jacksonville, so longer travel time than you might expect.
5. Tennessee Titans, Monday night October 18
Once, it would have been high on the list but with so many recent trips to Nashville, if you really wanted to go, you’ve probably already been. It’s still a great city, but the Monday night of it all would mean probably taking two days off work.
6. Miami Dolphins, Sunday September 19
A trip to Miami in September is meh, but lots of Bills fans make this an annual pilgrimage. Most of us prefer this game to be later so we can escape December/January snow and get some beach time in during the winter months.
7. New England Patriots, Sunday December 26
Unless you have family in Boston, who wants to leave home on Christmas Day or the day after for an afternoon game in the cold against Mac Jones? Maybe it’s the day Buffalo clinches the AFC East in Bill Belichick’s house, but there is only one reason this game isn’t last on the list.
8. New York Jets, Sunday November 14
Gross stadium, developing team, in the middle of November. I just don’t see the allure unless you’re really into driving (or taking the train if you’re fancy) from WNY to NYC and seeing the fall colors. Does anyone want to make a case for this game to not be last?