The NFL regular season will very likely include 17 games starting in 2021, as many fans have expected for quite some time.
It’s happening, and it could be as soon as this week.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL is expected to announce the expansion of the regular-season schedule from 16 to 17 games in the coming days.
The scheduling change should go into effect starting this year.
NFL is expected to expand the regular season schedule this week to 17 games. The league had played a 16-game regular season schedule since 1978, by far the longest stretch without a change in NFL history.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 28, 2021
That’s right. Seventeen games. No more finishing with a .500 record, a disappointing development if you’re Jeff Fisher.
In regard to a team’s opponents, the annual format has been this: you play every team in your division twice (six games), every team in another division within your conference (four games, alternates every year), and every team in a division from the opposite conference (four games, alternates every year).
You also face a team from each of the other two divisions left within your conference (not your division or the one in which you faced each team). Those opponents are based on divisional seeding from the previous season (for example: if you finished in second place in your division, you face the other second-place teams in their respective divisions).
So that 17th opponent?
Take the division from the opposite conference that you faced two seasons ago — you play the team that finished with the same divisional seeding as you last year. So in 2021, the Giants are set to face the Dolphins; Big Blue went up against the AFC East in 2019, and in 2020, both New York and Miami finished in second place in their respective divisions.
The Jets, on the other hand, are set to play the Eagles — their divisions faced one another in 2019 prior to them both finishing last in their divisions in 2020.
The home team conference will rotate every year — in 2021, the AFC teams are set to be at home for the seventeenth game.
There are additional changes to note, per Warren Sharp.
There will be no extra bye, so 17 games in 18 weeks. The first Sunday of football (Week 1) will be Sept. 12 while the last Sunday (Week 18) will be Jan. 9, with the Super Bowl occurring on Sunday, Feb. 13.
The Wild Card Round of the playoffs will also be three days, with two games on Saturday (Jan. 15), three on Sunday, and one on Monday.
The change to a 17-game schedule is something that’s been debated amongst NFL fans for years. Now, it’s finally coming, and more football is to be played, watched, and listened to every season.