Commencing with the upcoming 2021 campaign, the NFL is expanding its regular season to 17 games per team.
NFL owners voted in approval of the change Tuesday at the Annual League Meeting, which is taking place virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"This is a monumental moment in NFL history," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "The CBA with the players and the recently completed media agreements provide the foundation for us to enhance the quality of the NFL experience for our fans. And one of the benefits of each team playing 17 regular-season games is the ability for us to continue to grow our game around the world."
Each club will now take part in an additional AFC vs. NFC game based on division standings from the prior season and on a rotating divisional basis with AFC teams as the home squad for the additional game this season. The preseason schedule will now consist of three games per team. All 32 teams will play in at least one international game once every eight years, per the new enhanced schedule.
Below is the 17th matchup for each team this season:
|Away Team||Home Team|
|NFC East||AFC East|
|1. Washington Football Team||1. Buffalo Bills|
|2. New York Giants||2. Miami Dolphins|
|3. Dallas Cowboys||3. New England Patriots|
|4. Philadelphia Eagles||4. New York Jets|
|NFC West||AFC North|
|1. Seattle Seahawks||1. Pittsburgh Steelers|
|2. Los Angeles Rams||2. Baltimore Ravens|
|3. Arizona Cardinals||3. Cleveland Browns|
|4. San Francisco 49ers||4. Cincinnati Bengals|
|NFC South||AFC South|
|1. New Orleans Saints||1. Tennessee Titans|
|2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2. Indianapolis Colts|
|3. Carolina Panthers||3. Houston Texans|
|4. Atlanta Falcons||4. Jacksonville Jaguars|
|NFC North||AFC West|
|1. Green Bay Packers||1. Kansas City Chiefs|
|2. Chicago Bears||2. Las Vegas Raiders|
|3. Minnesota Vikings||3. Los Angeles Chargers|
|4. Detroit Lions||4. Denver Broncos|
NFL Kickoff Weekend will begin Thursday, Sept. 9, and the regular season will end Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022.
Super Bowl LVI will take place Feb. 13, 2022 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. The 2022 Pro Bowl will be played Sunday, Feb. 6 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
The new schedule brings about a historic change for the league, though one that has been expected.
Since 1978, the league has played a 16-game regular season, as it added two games to the previous 14-contest slate. Now it will add one more.
Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement from March 2020, the NFL first had to negotiate at least one new media contract to make the move to expand to 17 games. The league's new media deal came to fruition and was announced on March 18, setting in motion the shift to 17 games.
Following the league's drop in salary cap for the 2021 season as a result of COVID-19, the schedule expansion is expected to partially lighten the effects of the cap drop and create new revenue. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero noted the approval of the new media deal and the 17-game schedule will trigger the "media kicker" in the CBA, which will increase the players' share of all revenue to more than 48 percent.