NFL Approves 17-Game Schedule for 2021, Announces Extra Matchup for All 32 Teams

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 30, 2021

NFL football commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a press conference ahead of Super Bowl 55, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (Perry Knotts/NFL via AP)
Perry Knotts/Associated Press

The NFL has exercised its option to add an extra game to the regular-season schedule starting in 2021. 

Per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, the league officially announced the 17th game will begin this season. 

NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano passed along the matchups this season for the extra game:

Andrew Siciliano @AndrewSiciliano

The 17th games for 2021 👇🏻 https://t.co/G1SvzUoSPd

When the National Football League Players Association voted to approve the new collective bargaining agreement in March 2020, it gave the NFL the option of adding an extra game to the regular-season schedule in 2021 at the earliest. 

In December, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport (h/t NFL.com's Nick Shook) noted the 32 team owners approved a formula for determining the 17th game in 2021 if the league chose to add it. 

The formula is an interconference matchup based on division standings from the previous season and "on a rotating divisional basis." 

The MMQB's Albert Breer reported the crossover matchups that will be scheduled for 2021:

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Re: 17-game slate, the inter-conference rotation for '21 ... Full crossover: NFC East/AFC West, NFC North/AFC North, NFC South/AFC East, NFC West, AFC South. 1-game crossover (1 v. 1, 2 v. 2, etc.): NFC East/AFC East, NFC North/AFC West, NFC South/AFC South, NFC West/AFC North.

For example, based on that formula, the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers will have a game against the AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs this season.

The additional game rotation follows a similar formula to how the NFL schedules divisional opponents each year on a rotating basis. 

Now that the NFL has officially announced an additional game, the next step is the release of the 2021 regular-season schedule. Ben Fischer of the Sports Business Journal reported the league is targeting the second week of May to unveil next season's slate of games. 

Teams already know who their opponents will be for next season; the schedule will just put dates on those matchups. 

The 2021 regular season is expected to begin on Sept. 9