Times are changing, and change will introduce one additional game to the NFL this coming season.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL will expand their regular season to a 17-game schedule this week. The last time the league made such an adjustment was in 1978, when 14 games were increased to 16.
Last year, the 17-game season was part of a new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. It quickly became a controversial topic among players, namely quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who stood on opposite sides of the line.
When all was said and done, 1,978 players voted, and the agreement passed by 60 votes.
After the announcement was made via a tweet from Schefter on Sunday, many players shared their opinions on social media. Among them, Eagles’ Darius Slay.
That’s wth im saying 🤦🏾♂️
— Darius Slay (@bigplay24slay) March 28, 2021
WHAT TO EXPECT
In preparation for the 2021 season, fans should expect to see one less preseason game, maintaining the NFL’s 20-game formula. This design would also allow for ten home and ten away games per team.
Week 1 would begin the week after Labor Day weekend and extend to Week 18, finishing on January 9, 2022. The 17th game would be an interconference matchup based on divisional standings from the previous season. Each year thereafter, a rotating interdivisional scheme would ensue.
Based on this plan, the Philadelphia Eagles would play the New York Jets at the Meadowlands. The remaining NFC East teams will face the New England Patriots (Dallas Cowboys), Buffalo Bills (Washington Football Team), and Miami Dolphins (New York Giants).
There will be no extra bye week.
Following Week 18, Wild Card Weekend would begin Saturday, January 15, 2022, with two games, three games Sunday, and one Monday Night Football showdown.
The Super Bowl would also be pushed back one week, airing Sunday, February 13, 2022.
SOME CHALLENGES AHEAD
Right off the bat there are two big positives that come with an additional game. The first being more revenue for the NFL, who lost money due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Sports Business Journal, the league’s revenue fell from $16 billion in 2019 to $12 billion in 2020. Second, for fans, it’s simply more football.
While many Philadelphia fans may think Week 18 is in the bag for The Birds, some challenges lie ahead — namely, injuries.
Philadelphia is coming off a 2020 season full of injuries, with no less than six injuries during any given week. In Week 6, the team had 15 players on their injury report and finished the season with a recording-breaking number of offensive line formations.
The addition of an extra week to the regular season before playoffs ultimately means that adjustments are necessary.