The NFL appears to be headed towards the introduction of a 17th regular-season game in the 2021 season. Let’s take a look at how this came about, and how the matchups are expected to shape up in 2021.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement opened the window for a 17th NFL game
As part of the CBA signed ahead of the 2020 NFL season, the NFL included the scope to expand to a 17th regular season game as early as the 2021 NFL season. In December 2020, a report on NFL.com from Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport indicated that plans are in place to expand the regular season. While these plans have yet to be formally ratified, it appears more likely than not that a 17th NFL game will take place in 2021.
A new TV deal paved the way for this to happen
It was reported by Sports Business Journal and Variety that Walt Disney has reached a “broad agreement” on a media rights agreement with the NFL. The deal is expected to see Disney pay $2.6 billion per year for Monday Night Football and will see the Super Bowl return to the ABC network for the first time in more than a decade.
The crucial element of this new deal is that part of the agreement would include adding a 17th NFL game to the schedule. Therefore, when this deal becomes official, there is little to stop a 17th NFL game from taking place.
What is the process for deciding who will matchup in the NFL’s 17th regular-season game?
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer was one of the first to report on how the process for deciding the schedule of the NFL’s 17th games. The matchups will be interconference based on standings on a rotational basis.
In 2021, those matchups see the AFC East teams face the NFC East. The AFC West will match up with the NFC North, and the NFC West will face the AFC North. Therefore, the AFC South will face off with the NFC South to complete the schedule.
This was recently confirmed by Peter King. King also reported that the NFL will push the NFL playoffs back one week to accommodate the extra game. Therefore, there will be no extra bye week, and the Super Bowl would provisionally be scheduled for February 13. Additionally, King reported that the AFC will expect to host the 16 extra games in 2021. This would then rotate so that the NFC hosted the extra game in 2022.
Who will match up for the 17th NFL game between the AFC East and NFC East?
Who will match up for the 17th NFL game between the AFC North and NFC West?
Who will match up for the 17th NFL game between the AFC South and NFC South?
Who will match up for the 17th NFL game between the AFC West and NFC North?
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