What the 17th regular-season game means for the Falcons and the rest of the league


According to Adam Schefter, the NFL is moving to expand the regular season schedule today to 17 games at the owners’ meeting, which ends the longest stretch of a regular-season schedule change as the league had been playing a 16-game schedule since 1978 — when they jumped from 14 games to 16.

The most obvious reason for the not-so-sudden additional game — the NFL has been adamantly trying to increase the number of regular-season games for years — has to be tied into the league’s loss of revenue and how it impacts teams’ financials in the future. The 17-game season obviously has rippling effects, which will likely push Super Bowl LVI a week back from February 6th, 2022. However, it has not been officially moved yet. There is also cause to increase the number of bye weeks to reduce the wear and tear on the players, but for now, no extra bye — 17 games in 18 weekends.

According to Peter King’s formula, the Falcons will play the fourth-place finishers in the NFC, while the divisional matchups will be with the AFC and NFC East teams. The league configured the extra game with the formula of AFC versus NFC, cross-conference matchup from two years ago, 2021 matchup based on 2020 standings. It isn’t very clear, so here is King explaining it.

“… here’s an example: The four AFC West teams played the four NFC North teams in 2019. In 2020, Kansas City finished in first place in the AFC West, Green Bay first in the NFC North. So in 2021, it’s AFC West against NFC North, and 1-versus-1 from ‘20 becomes Green Bay versus Kansas City.”

This means the Falcons will travel to Jacksonville in a matchup against the Urban Meyer-led Jaguars, where Trevor Lawrence will more than likely be the quarterback. The AFC South is one of the weakest divisions in football, but the matchups between the two divisions are favorable for the Falcons.

  • Saints at Titans
  • Buccaneers at Colts
  • Panthers at Texans

Both the Titans and the Colts have a better chance of winning their 17th game than the Jaguars and Texans do, which bodes well for the Falcons as they will likely compete with the Saints and Buccaneers for the crown.

The whole point of every NFC team traveling to an AFC team is to keep the playing field equal. Having three NFC South teams playing eight games at home and the fourth playing nine would obviously cause disgruntling among those shorted. 2021 will likely be AFC home games; then, in 2022, the NFC will have that home game.

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