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NFL to add 17th game; Bears to play Raiders

The NFL owners are expected to formalize the move to 17 games this week and the Bears’ opponent has been leaked

NFL: OCT 06 Bears v Raiders Photo by Martin Leitch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The new collective bargaining agreement that went into place ahead of the 2020 NFL season — but kicks in formally in 2021 — included an option that was expected to be formalized for a 17th game to be added.

This week, the owners are expected to formalize that, according to Adam Schefter and other NFL insiders:

The schedule for that 17th game, or at least that slate, has also leaked. Warren Sharp and others are reporting the Bears will play at the Las Vegas Raiders. The actual schedule part; the date and time and all that, will be released with the rest of the NFL schedule, likely in late April.

Peter King of Football Morning in America, actually broke down how that scheduling formula works in the linked piece that Sharp quoted in his Tweet above, but let’s break it down again because it’s a lot:

When the NFL was choosing options, the formula that prevailed—follow me now—was AFC versus NFC, cross-conference matchup from two years ago, 2021 matchup based on 2020 standings. Now that you’re totally confused, 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. I will bet you a Kroll’s West cheeseburger with an ice-cold Spotted Cow that the networks will brawl over this ratings-gold game. This game alone is reason enough for the league to rush the 17th game onto the 2021 schedule.

So...whew, that’s a lot. Look back at which AFC division the Bears played two years ago and then find the team from that conference that finished in the same spot as the Bears the previous season (in this case, 2020) and that’s who the play. The Bears will get the Raiders, who finished second in the AFC West last season.

In 2022 they will play the team from the AFC South that finishes in the same spot in their division in 2021.