NFL announces 17-game regular-season schedule beginning in 2021

By Kevin Kelley -

The NFL announced on Tuesday that team owners have approved a 17-game regular-season schedule beginning with the 2021 season.

The 17th game will feature teams from the opposite conference that finished in the same place within their division the previous season. AFC teams will be the home conference in 2021.

“This is a monumental moment in NFL history,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “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.”

Below are new matchups that have been added to the 2021 NFL schedule:

  • Washington at Bills
  • Giants at Dolphins
  • Cowboys at Patriots
  • Eagles at Jets
  • Seahawks at Steelers
  • Rams at Ravens
  • Cardinals at Browns
  • 49ers at Bengals
  • Saints at Titans
  • Buccaneers at Colts
  • Panthers at Texans
  • Falcons at Jaguars
  • Packers at Chiefs
  • Bears at Raiders
  • Vikings at Chargers
  • Lions at Broncos

With the addition of the 17th regular-season game, the NFL has reduced the preseason by one to three games. The 2021 regular-season will begin on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021 and will conclude on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022.

The playoffs for the 2021 season will begin on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 with the Wild-Card Round. The season will conclude with Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022.

Below is additional information on the new NFL scheduling formula:

  • Home and away against its three division opponents (six games).
  • 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.

The NFL also announced today that all 32 teams will play internationally at least once in an eight-year period beginning in 2022.

NFL SCHEDULES

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Comments (6)

I believe each team will “host” internationally every 8 years, meaning only 3 out of 8 years do they get the 9th “regular season” home game.

Before, they were begging teams to give up home games, even offering them the Super Bowl in exchange for a home game in London. Now there will be a loose “rotation” so that 8 years x 4 games = 32 teams hosting abroad.

Will these 17th games be played mostly in the existing time slots of Sunday 1PM ET or 4PM ET or to maximize TV will they be played some other time? Are these games covered by the existing TV deals recently negotiated or are they another “package” of games?

Wonder how that will work out television doubleheaderwise. Under the old format, CBS had 8 exclusive doubleheader Sundays, and Fox had 8 exclusive doubleheader Sundays, and week 17 was a doubleheader Sunday for both of them (giving them 9 total each).