It’s official. After playing a 16-game schedule since 1978, NFL owners approved the addition of a 17th game going forward and starting this season.
Coincidentally, the decision came one day after the 44th anniversary of the decision on March 29, 1977 to go from 14 to 16 games for the 1978 season.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “This is a monumental moment in NFL history. The CBA with the players and the recently completed media agreements provide the foundation for us to enhance the quality of the NFL experience for our fans. And one of the benefits of each team playing 17 regular-season games is the ability for us to continue to grow our game around the world.”
The 17th game will be interconference based on the prior year’s standings on a rotating four-year cycle (one game). These games match a first-place team from one division against a first-place team in an opposite conference division that the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place and fourth-place teams in each division are matched in the same way each year. The home conference for this game will rotate each season.
For 2021, all AFC teams will play nine regular-season home games with NFC teams hosting nine in 2022.
The Cardinals were already scheduled to play four games against AFC South teams Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Tennessee this season. The 17th game is on the road against the Cleveland Browns, which like Arizona, finished third in their division in 2020.
In the NFC West, Seattle will play at Pittsburgh, the Los Angeles Rams will be at Baltimore and San Francisco will visit Cincinnati.
Every team plays 17 regular-season games with one bye week. Clubs will host 10 games overall – either nine regular-season games and one preseason game or eight regular-season games and two preseason games. Thus, the Cardinals will host two home games in the three-game preseason this year.
NFL Kickoff Weekend will begin Thursday night, September 9, and the regular season will end Sunday, January 9, 2022. The 2022 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, February 6 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and the season will conclude with Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 13, 2022.
As part of the changes, it is ensured that beginning in 2022, all 32 clubs will play internationally at least once every eight years. The scheduling of up to four neutral-site games per year in a country outside the United States will focus initially on Canada, Europe, Mexico, South America and the United Kingdom. In addition, interested clubs can continue to volunteer to play home games internationally, as is currently the case.