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NFL schedule 2021: What expansion to 17 games would mean for regular season, playoffs, Super Bowl


Are you ready for some (additional) football?

The NFL is set to expand the regular-season schedule to 17 games this week, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Once the league’s owners meet and approve the expansion, it will mark the first time the schedule has been changed since 1978, when the NFL jumped from 14 to 16 games.

How will a 17th game impact not only the regular season, but also the playoffs and Super Bowl 56? Let’s break it down.

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What NFL schedule expansion means for regular season, playoffs, Super Bowl

NBC Sports’ Peter King and Sharp Football Analysis’ Warren Sharp recently reported on the likely changes for the 2021 season:

  • No extra bye week. NFL teams would play 17 games across 18 weekends.
  • The first Sunday of the regular season would be Sept. 12, 2021.
  • The last Sunday of the regular season would be Jan. 9, 2022.
  • Wild-card weekend could feature two games on Jan. 15, 2022; three games on Jan. 16, 2022; and one game on Jan. 17, 2022.
  • Super Bowl 56, originally scheduled for Feb. 6, 2022, could slide back to Feb. 13, 2022.

What are the potential matchups for the NFL’s 17th game?

Here is each team’s 17th game, based on the formula reported by King:

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

How did NFL players react to schedule expansion?

The current NFL collective bargaining agreement allows the league’s owners to add a 17th game to the schedule, but that doesn’t mean players are happy about it.

Saints running back Alvin Kamara made his stance clear with a four-word tweet: “S— dumb as hell.”

Former Colts defensive back Darius Butler voiced his displeasure, saying the NFL is once again valuing money more than player safety.

Torrey Smith and Geoff Schwartz both believe a 17th game is a good move for the league in terms of fan engagement and revenue, but they also expressed concern about a potential increase in player injuries.




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