Report: AFC Teams Likely to Have 9 Home Games If 17-Game Schedule Played in 2021

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2021

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates with teammates after the AFC championship NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won 38-24. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Were the NFL to trigger a 17-game season in 2021, the NFC might wind up drawing the short straw.

NBC Sports' Peter King reported Sunday one tentative plan would have AFC teams getting to play at home in each of the 16 games added to the schedule. The NFC would then have the same luxury in 2023.  

King cited competitive balance as one reason for the approach since every team in one conference would have the same number of home and away games.

In general, a 17-game regular season felt inevitable once the NFL and NFL Players Association officially cemented the newest collective bargaining agreement. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport reported in December the change is in the works for 2021:

"An announcement may not come for weeks, if not months, since the NFL must first negotiate at least one new media contract in order to make the move to 17 games in 2021, per the collective bargaining agreement. But as one team source apprised of discussions said: 'We're all anticipating it's going to happen.'"

Rapoport reported earlier in the month the NFL's 32 team owners had agreed to how the 17th game would be formulated. Teams from opposing conferences will face off as determined by the previous season's division standings.

Pelissero and Rapoport noted having one more regular-season encounter on the calendar could help generate additional revenue to help mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to ESPN's Dan Graziano, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to raise the salary-cap floor to $180 million, but the final cap number is unlikely to eclipse $185 million. That would be a relatively steep drop from the $198.2 million salary cap in 2020.