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During the 2021 offseason, the NFL made a significant change to its schedule. The league broadened it to 17 full games.

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The schedule expansion was the NFL"s first since 1978, as soon as the league increased from a 14-game schedule to a 16-game schedule. The NFL offered the 16-game slate for 43 years.


But now, the league has added to its schedule when again and will dive head-first right into the new 17-game style in 2022.

"This is a monumental minute in NFL history," NFL Commissioner i get it Goodell stated of the schedule expansion in a statement. "The CBA with the players and the newly completed media agreements provide the structure for united state to improve the top quality of the NFL endure for ours fans. And also one the the benefits of each team play 17 regular-season games is the capacity for us to proceed to prosper our game approximately the world."


Here is every little thing you need to know about the schedule expansion and how it will affect the NFL"s 2021 season.

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Why walk the NFL expand to a 17-game schedule?

It"s all around the money. NFL owners think they deserve to make more money — and "grow the game," as Goodell stated in his declare — through a 17-game constant season and also three-game preseason than they can with the ahead 16-game continual season and also four-game preseason.

The NFL had actually the choice to broaden the schedule to 17 games developed into the CBA; they just had to authorize one new media contract before earning the capability to practice it. The league controlled that and exercised its growth clause ahead that the 2022 season.

The growth of the season was constantly inevitable once the NFLPA and also owners agreed to it in the CBA. Beyond that, the timing of this — ~ the COVID pandemic drove fans the end of stadiums and caused countless owners to shed money on doing not have gate receipts and also concession sales — renders the decision sensible. 

How will certainly the NFL"s 17-game schedule work?

Preseason

The development to a 17-game schedule resulted in a huge change in the NFL"s preseason schedule. Rather of each team playing 4 preseason games, every team will now play 3 (save for the room of Fame video game participants that will get involved in a fourth preseason game).

That said, when the preseason is a bit shorter, it will still be a fruitful chance for NFL coaches come evaluate your roster depth. In recent seasons, we"ve watched coaches relocate away from using their starters in ~ all during the preseason. In 2021, brand-new Chargers coach Brandon Staley is planning on sitting quarterback Justin Herbert, amongst others, to ensure they stay healthy.

The reduced roles because that starters will provide ample avenues for NFL coaches to advice the depth football player on their rosters. Together such, the shortening the the preseason won"t matter too much for teams and could be advantageous as groups look to avoid preseason injuries to their most consequential players.

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Regular season

Obviously, the continual season is currently one week longer than it was previously. The begin of the season stays unmoved, therefore that way the playoffs will be pushed ago a week to make room for the extra game. Together a result, the supervisor Bowl will take location on Feb. 13, 2022 rather of Feb. 6, 2022 this season.

Additionally, schedule the opposite is gone, as some NFL teams will have actually nine house games and also eight road gamings while others will certainly play eight at home and nine ~ above the road. That might give the teams with more home gamings a slim competitive advantage, though that number will transition from year to year.

Aside native that, over there aren"t a lot of alters to the schedule itself. There"s simply one much more game.

Is the NFL adding another farewell week to the schedule?

No. Groups will still have just one taking leave week during a 17-game schedule.

Are the playoffs affected by a 17-game schedule?

The NFL playoffs will certainly be pushed back by about one week since the NFL season is starting at the same time but is adding another week to the regular season. That way that the at sight Bowl will no much longer take ar on the an initial Sunday in February; it will be played on the second Sunday in February.

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Could NFL groups opt to remainder players more during a 17-game season?

It definitely seems possible. NFL players experience a the majority of wear and also tear, so together the season goes along, groups will need to control the health and wellness of their players more, particularly teams that room out the contention. Games are still scarce at the NFL level, so fill management doesn"t it seems to be ~ likely. However in the latter stages that the season, teams out that contention could pick to rest their starters earlier or much more than usual.

How walk a 17-game schedule influence fantasy football?

It depends on her league"s structure. However, with the NFL season now expanding to 18 weeks, fantasy owners will have the choice to broaden to a 17-week schedule if skipping the traditionally avoided final week of the season.

We right here at Sporting News anticipate many fantasy leagues will take on a 17-week schedule to accommodate that change.

How was the NFL"s 17th video game decided?

The style for deciding the NFL"s 17th video game is relatively simple. The NFL matches up departments from the AFC and NFC versus one another, and also the adversaries are determined based upon their end up in critical year"s standings. The first-place teams match up with the first-place teams, second-place v second-place, etc.

In 2021, the divisional matchups room as follows:

AFC eastern vs. NFC EastNFC north vs. AFC WestNFC southern vs. AFC SouthNFC West vs. AFC North

For example, the Washington football Team finished an initial in the NFC east while the Buffalo bills finished an initial in the AFC East. So, they"ll play one an additional as will the No. 2 finishers indigenous those divisions, the Giants and also the Dolphins. So will the third-place teams, the Cowboys and also the Patriots. The NFL did the for each division to determine the 17th matchup.

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How space the NFL"s various other 16 scheduled games decided?

The NFL has long had a formula for exactly how to decide every team"s 16 opponents. The is as follows:

Six gamings (home and away) against divisional opponentsFour games against a finish out-of-conference division; the departments rotate top top a yearly basisFour games versus a finish in-conference division; as soon as again, the departments rotate yearlyTwo games versus remaining in-conference adversaries that finished in the same standing divisionally in the vault season (example: the third-place team native the AFC east would place third-place team indigenous the AFC North).

Will the NFL ever expand come 18 games?

Maybe, however it won"t take place until after the 2030 season. The NFL CBA gave the owners the ideal to increase to a 17-game schedule, but any kind of further expansion beyond that would need to be negotiated with the players. Because not all were happy through the expansion to 17 games, expanding to an 18-game schedule in the next decade doesn"t seem likely.

The NFL can like the idea of an 18-game season, though. The would allow for scheduling symmetry to return v each team playing nine games at home and also nine top top the road. Additionally, the 18th game would permit the NFL to tack an additional week onto your season, which means the at sight Bowl would be play the day prior to President"s Day, a national holiday, most years.

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The NFL has expressed a desire to host Super Bowls the day before President"s Day, which falls on the 3rd Monday in February. Under the existing CBA, that will occur in 2027, as soon as the at sight Bowl drops on February 14th. But if the league included another week, it would occur on almost a yearly basis.