Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the NFL is expected to expand the regular season to 17 games in 2021.
Schefter notes that this will be the first change to the regular season schedule since the league officially went to 16 games in 1978.
Peter King reported a few weeks ago that the NFL is planning to have AFC teams host the Week 17 game in 2021 before alternating it NFC the following year.
“When the NFL was choosing options, the formula that prevailed—follow me now—was AFC versus NFC, cross-conference matchup from two years ago, 2021 matchup based on 2020 standings. Now that you’re totally confused, here’s an example: The four AFC West teams played the four NFC North teams in 2019. In 2020, Kansas City finished in first place in the AFC West, Green Bay first in the NFC North. So in 2021, it’s AFC West against NFC North, and 1-versus-1 from ‘20 becomes Green Bay versus Kansas City. I will bet you a Kroll’s West cheeseburger with an ice-cold Spotted Cow that the networks will brawl over this ratings-gold game. This game alone is reason enough for the league to rush the 17th game onto the 2021 schedule,” King wrote.
Here’s a breakdown of matchups for the 17th game based on this formula:
- Packers at Chiefs
- Bears at Raiders
- Vikings at Chargers
- Lions at Broncos
- Seahawks ag Steelers
- Rams at Ravens
- Cardinals at Browns
- 49ers at Bengals
- Saints at Titans
- Buccaneers at Colts
- Panthers at Texans
- Falcons at Jaguars
- Washington at Bills
- Giants at Dolphins
- Cowboys at Patriots
- Eagles at Jets
All indications have been that there would be a 17th game added to the schedule in 2021 for over a year now since the league officially got the option to expand the regular season as part of the CBA completed last year.
The NFL has since negotiated multiple television contracts with networks based on an expanded schedule, so now of this should come as a big surprise.
Mark Maske of the Washington Post recently reported that that the NFL is considering using four of these extra games each year for international play, which would begin in 2022.
This reduces the impact on teams who would otherwise lose a home game to play internationally.