The NFL made official Tuesday what had been long been suspected when owners voted to add a 17th regular season game.
Also expected was the setup for the additional game, which means the Miami Dolphins indeed will face the New York Giants at Hard Rock Stadium along with their other already determined matchups.
The Dolphins' home schedule in 2021 also features games against Buffalo, New England, the New York Jets, Atlanta, Carolina, Baltimore, Houston and Indianapolis.
In addition to the three AFC East opponents, the Dolphins will play road games against Jacksonville, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Tennessee.
The addition of a 17th regular season game will mean a reduction in the preseason from four to three games for every team except those playing in the annual Hall of Fame Game, which in 2021 will feature the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys.
The scheduling formula moving forward will remain the same as it's been:
-- The four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (four games).
-- The four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (four games).
-- Two intraconference games based on the prior year’s standings (two games). These games match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two same-conference divisions the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place and fourth-place teams in a conference are matched in the same way each year.
-- One interconference game 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.
Also of note in the NFL announcement Tuesday, 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.
The officially move to 17 games was considered a foregone conclusion once owners were given the ability to do it in the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and the NFL Players Association.
It will be the first time since 1978, when the regular season schedule increased from 14 to 16 games, that there's been a change in the schedule.