It's been expected for more than a year, but NFL owners are poised to officially expand the regular season to 17 games this week during two days of virtual meetings Tuesday and Wednesday. The change will take place beginning with the 2021 season.
NFL teams have played a 16-game regular-season schedule since 1978. This change has been expected for some time, as NFL insiders have teased that the NFL was seriously considering the change in recent years.
In March, 2020, when the new CBA was ratified, owners were given the power to add the extra game. The recently negotiated television contracts that begin in 2023 were consummated with the understanding there would be 17 games.
While fans might be excited about the change, players have had mixed opinions. In fact, the close vote last year by the players for the new CBA was in large part because of the 17th game. Saints running back Alvin Kamara called the decision "dumb," while former NFL wide receiver Torrey Smith explained that the change could be great but adjustments "have to be made."
Some of the potential matchups include Packers at Chiefs, Seahawks at Steelers and Buccaneers at Colts. For a look at more potential matchups, check out this graphic from ESPN's Field Yates using a formula from NBC’s Peter King.
Part of the plan also reportedly includes every team agreeing to play at least one home game internationally every eight years. The odd number of games will have half the league playing nine home games and the other half playing eight. It is expected that the ninth home game will alternate years between each conference, so there are no inequities.
More is expected to be learned as we await the official announcement from the NFL about the schedule change.
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