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NFL approves 17-game regular season starting in 2021; Reworking International Series could be next

Are you ready for some more football?

Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

There will be one more regular season game on the schedule starting in 2021. The NFL owners on Tuesday approved the addition of a 17th regular season game each year, while reducing the preseason from four games down to three. The move adds a inter-conference matchup for each team to the schedule.

The additional game will be created using a divisional rotation between the two conferences, with the home team alternating from the AFC to the NFC each year. According to Alber Breer in his Monday Morning Quarterback article this week, the 2021 divisional match ups are expected to have the AFC East hosting the NFC East, the AFC North hosting the NFC West, the AFC South hosting the NFC South, and the AFC West hosting the NFC North. The specific teams for each interconference game will be determined based on finishing order from the previous year’s regular season standings.

In the case of the Miami Dolphins, who finished in second place in the AFC East, they will welcome the NFC East’s 2020 second-place team, the New York Giants, to South Florida.

Breer adds there are some additional pieces to the 17th game that will likely become a reality. The league is looking to expand the International Series - with the current sites in London and Mexico City possibly seeing sites in Canada, Germany, or Brazil added to the host cities - and will use the conference schedule to host 17th game to assign the home team. The league is also looking to create a rotation of teams playing in the International Series, with every team hosting one game over an eight year rotation, removing the previous guidance that a team wanting to host the Super Bowl should lose a home game to the International Series.

The league wants at least four International Series games each year, while still allowing for teams to volunteer to host a game. Those games would likely be in addition to the four games on the rotation.