EDIT: ESPN Insider Adam Schefter is reporting that the NFL is expected to make the announcement that they indeed will make the move to a seventeenth regular season game starting with the 2021 season. This means that the rotating schedule will pit the Bears vs the Raiders this year in Las Vegas.
Specific dates and times will be announced for the new 18 week schedule when the league has their schedule release day, which is usually in early May, and once it’s official we’ll share it all right here at WCG.
While the league still hasn’t made an official announcement regarding a seventeenth regular season game for 2021, it sure seems as though the NFL and the owners are pushing things in that direction.
Last year’s update to the CBA authorized the owners to implement a 17-game schedule as early as the 2021 season, and with the league currently working on their new broadcasting contracts with the television networks, there could be some clarity on the 2021 season soon.
A source close to the negotiations tells the Washington Post, “I don’t think anything is definite, but I think it will be seventeen and three,” with that “seventeen” being the regular season games and the “three” being the number of preseason games teams play.
Part of the allure of adding a game as soon as possible would be to offset some of the loss in salary cap space. It was recently announced that the lowest the cap floor would go in 2021 is $180 million, but an extra game as a part of the future broadcasting rights could allow this years cap to be even larger.
Since the league announced the seventeenth game would be an AFC vs NFC matchup each season on a rotating schedule, this year’s would feature the second place Las Vegas Raiders (AFC West) vs the second place Chicago Bears (NFC North).
Specifics on how the league would handle giving out the ninth home game each year is yet to be determined, as a simple rotation may not always match up if the games are determined based on the previous season’s finish.
We’re still a couple months away from the NFL announcing definite dates and times, but you can check out all the Bears opponents here.