NFL Approves 17-Game Schedule
It is official. The long-rumored move to a 17-game schedule by the NFL was announced on Tuesday.
Fans will get an additional regular-season game and one less preseason game, which has long been the desire of many of the league’s players and coaches.
The NFL has shuffled divisions and changed playoff formats in its more recent history, but this marks the first time since 1978 that it has changed the number of games played in the regular season.
The extra game will feature teams from opposing conferences that finished in the same place in their division the previous season. For 2021, it has been deemed that each of the AFC teams will be the home team. With a ninth regular-season contest at home, all AFC teams will lose a home preseason game.
Though the change in format has delayed the usual release of season over-under win totals, odds for winning Super Bowl LVI still boast the Kansas City Chiefs as the favorite (+450), followed by the reigning-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+700). For now, here’s a look at some of the additional games to be played this upcoming season thanks to the new format.
Packers at Chiefs
The best of the 17th games is the Green Bay Packers at the Kansas City Chiefs. Many fans were hoping for this as the Super Bowl LV matchup, and in hindsight, every Chiefs fan would have preferred it.
It’s Aaron Rodgers vs. Patrick Mahomes for the very first time — a quarterback battle we missed out on in 2019 when Mahomes was injured with a dislocated knee cap.
Buccaneers at Colts
Tom Brady has long been a nemesis to Indianapolis, first with Peyton Manning under center for the Colts, then Andrew Luck, and now, perhaps, with Carson Wentz. For the defending Super Bowl champions, this game is added to a schedule that is already highlighted by Tom Brady’s return to New England and a trip to Los Angeles to face Aaron Donald and the Rams.
Rams at Ravens
Speaking of Donald, if you’ve wanted to see him take on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, your wish has been granted. The best defensive player in his generation and the Matthew Stafford-led Rams have high hopes for 2021, as do the Ravens.
Both of these teams should be playoff-bound, with this important matchup likely to affect their seeding.
Cardinals at Browns
Otherwise known as the Oklahoma Heisman Trophy Bowl, the Cardinals-Browns game that has been added to the schedule will mark the first time in history that two Heisman Trophy winners from the same school — Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and Arizona’s Kyler Murray — will start against each other in the NFL.
The Browns are looking to capitalize on last year’s playoff run, while Arizona is hoping that free-agent additions J.J. Watt and A.J. Green still have enough in the tank to compete in a very tough NFC West.
Cowboys at Patriots
The Patriots have shelled out big money in free agency in hopes of getting back to the playoffs, while the Cowboys gave a huge contract to keep quarterback Dak Prescott in Dallas. We expect a more exciting game than the 13-9 Patriots win in 2019.
Other 17th-Game Matchups
The rest of the newly announced schedule looks like this:
- Seahawks at Steelers
- Saints at Titans
- Washington Football Team at Bills
- Vikings at Chargers
- Giants at Dolphins
- 49ers at Bengals
- Lions at Broncos
- Falcons at Jaguars
- Bears at Raiders
- Eagles at Jets
- Panthers at Texans