Los Angeles (AFP) – The NFL’s regular season will be expanded to include 17 games from 2021, a much-anticipated move that follows the league’s record-breaking media rights deals announced earlier this month.
A statement from the National Football League said each team will now play 17 regular season games and three preseason games for the first time, the first change to the season’s structure since 1978.
A 17-game season had been on the cards since the 2020 collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
On March 18, the NFL announced a raft of media rights deals expected to generate more than $100 billion over the next 11 seasons, which included an agreement with Amazon Prime Video for rights to Thursday night games.
“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.”
The 17th game will see teams from opposing conferences playing the team that finished in the same place from the corresponding division in 2021, with AFC teams being the home team for the new seasons.
For example, the Buffalo Bills, who finished top of the AFC East last season, will take on the Washington Football Team, winners of the NFC East, in their 17th game in 2021.
NFL clubs will host 10 games per season overall — either nine regular season games and one preseason game, or eight regular season games and two preseason games.
Each team will play divisional rivals home and away and four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle.
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