In what might be the most predictable news of all time, the NFL owners earlier today approved the 17-game schedule format, to be in effect for the 2021 season, expanding the regular season by one game, marking the first change to the length of the season since the 1970s.
The expansion of the regular season—and the reduction of the preseason by one game—was not subject to further collective bargaining with the NFLPA, because the right to do so was provided for in the most recent CBA that was approved last year, with the 2021 season being the earliest date allowed for.
Here are the added 17th games for the 2021 season, plus an outline of how the schedule works going forward: pic.twitter.com/swfcHuTQa9
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 30, 2021
With the new format, teams will now rotate every other year in terms of which host nine regular season games (and one preseason game) and who will host eight regular season games (and two preseason games). The additional, 17th game will be an interconference matchup pitting teams against another team that finished in the same spot within their division a year ago, bringing interconference games totals up to five per season.
The rest of the schedule, of course, will work in the same fashion that it has for some time now. Each team will play each of their divisional opponents twice per season in a home-and-away format, in addition to one full intraconference and one full interconference division, which rotate on an annual basis. Teams will also play the teams from the other two intraconference divisions who finished in the same rank within their division as themselves.
It has been known for some time that, in the event that the regular season were to be expanded for the 2021 season, it would mean that the Pittsburgh Steelers would play the Seattle Seahawks for their 17th game.
Seattle finished 12-4 last season, the same as the Steelers, as the top seed in their division. Pittsburgh most recently faced the Seahawks in 2019 in a losing effort that involved multiple instances of the pass interference replay review system that no longer exists not going their way. They are 0-2 in their last two games against Seattle, the only two times that they have faced Russell Wilson at quarterback.