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Report: NFL to expand to 17-game regular season in 2021

Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

With the 2020 regular season almost in the books, it appears that we might need to get used to the idea of the 2021 regular season being a bit longer.

According to, the NFL has decided to expand the regular season slate to 17 games starting in 2021. This would help to offset the potential loss of revenue experienced by teams due to the COVID-19 situation this past season and potentially prevent the salary cap drop that many have anticipated would come when the new league year starts in March.

Per the report, the 17th game would be an inter-conference game, the matchups for which would be based on the standings from the previous season and the divisional matchups rotating on an annual basis. Each NFC division has a specific AFC division that they match up with every year, so the divisional matchups for the 17th game would likely rotate in a similar manner, with (for example) the first-place team in the NFC North taking on the first-place team in the AFC East and so forth.

According to the article, this also opens up the possibility for neutral-site games that could take place in international venues in order for the NFL to help expand their audience. This would be based on travel resuming a somewhat normal rhythm after the pandemic has subsided, obviously. The NFL had to cancel its International Series games this season.

The schedule would continue to have just one bye week for each team, meaning that the regular season would be 18 weeks long and the Super Bowl would get pushed back to the second week of February. This would also likely have an effect on events like the Scouting Combine and, possibly, the NFL Draft, though the latter would be doubtful given how far out it would be.

Personally, if I were making the decisions, I’d structure things like this:

  • Weeks 1-8: First half of the regular season
  • Week 9: International games
  • Week 10: Bye week for everybody, similar to the MLB All-Star break
  • Weeks 11-18: Second half of the regular season

But that’s just me.

What do you think about the idea of the NFL going to 17 regular season games, folks?