Peter King suggested in his Football Morning In America column that the shift to a 17-game NFL schedule is “highly likely” for the 2021 season.
King explained that TV partners and NFL schedulers are already working under the assumption of an expanded 17-game schedule, which was agreed upon in the league’s latest collective bargaining agreement in 2020.
He added that this new schedule will likely not include an additional bye week, with teams playing 17 games over an 18-week season, and will push the Los Angeles-bound Super Bowl LVI back to mid-February as opposed to an earlier start to the season. A potential target date of Feb. 13 would make the game the latest Super Bowl in NFL history.
Despite King’s report, the NFL has yet to announce any changes to the Super Bowl or the league’s schedule at this time.
Other interesting notes from King’s column include rumblings that the AFC will host each of the 16 newly-added games in 2021 with the NFC hosting all of them in 2022 to ensure divisional equity, meaning that the alternative would leave some teams with nine home games while divisional opponents could potentially remain with just eight in a 17-game schedule.
Under the current structure, the Bucs would play the Colts in Indianapolis, their South counterpart in the AFC and fellow second-place finisher within the division. The Bucs went 6-2 on the road in 2020, then won three straight road games on their way to the Super Bowl.
And while the NFL opted to play three Wild Card games on a Saturday, Jan. 9 and three on a Sunday, Jan. 10 this past season as not to conflict with the NCAA’s National Championship game between Ohio State and Alabama, a football-free Monday night on Jan. 17 in 2022 could open the door for a Wild Card match-up on Monday Night Football next year.