2021 Offseason Questions: How Do You Feel About 17-Game Schedule?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: How do you feel about the regular season expanding to 17 games?

As you’ve surely read by now, the NFL owners formally activated the provision of the CBA that gives them the ability to expand the regular season from 16 games to 17. The 17th game will be a non-conference game played against a team within an annually-rotating division that finished the previous season in the same place within their division. The AFC and NFC will alternate as the home team in those games on an annual basis, with the AFC hosting in odd years (i.e., in 2021).

The Steelers, as a result, will be hosting the Seattle Seahawks in 2021. As a direct effect of the expansion of the regular season, the preseason is also being reduced to three games. But of course that’s better than not having any preseason at all like last year.

As football fans, obviously, more football games that mean something is a good thing, but there are always unintended consequences when things are changed. I have seen some pretty mixed reactions from fans about the expansion, and good arguments made on both sides.

It will be weird to have teams playing an odd number of games, and I still think that there should have been a second bye week added. But what’s done is done at this point. There will be no going back. So what do you think of it all?

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