The NFL has been hellbent on additional games for many, many years. It’s just that they couldn’t quite get the players to agree to them until now, and thus you should not be surprised to learn a 17 game schedule is moving ahead quickly.
Per NFL insider Peter King, who is about as tapped into the crane game full of very rich old man hands trying desperately to pick up money as anyone, league schedulers and television partners are operating as though there will be 17 games. That final game will pit the NFC against the AFC one more time, and per King, will likely mean another road game for our beloved Falcons. The Super Bowl may also move back a week to February 13, which as King notes would make it the latest the Super Bowl has ever been played.
• Hearing it’s most likely to be AFC hosting all 16 newly invented games in 2021. Then NFC teams hosting in 2022. If that’s how it goes, it’s the fairest way. Competitive equity is the key. You don’t want three NFC East teams playing eight at home and the fourth playing nine at home.
What does this mean for the Falcons? As Matthew Tabeek with the Falcons noted recently, a matchup with the last place team in the AFC South would make a lot of sense, and the Falcons and Jaguars meet up frequently enough in the preseason that they have a fun little rivalry going. A road game against the hype machine that is Jacksonville with Urban Meyer, a war chest of free agency additions, and Trevor Lawrence would be interesting and potentially challenging.
The 17th game does add a degree of difficulty for the entire league, the Falcons very much included, because right now the league is not planning to add an additional bye week. That means 17 games of wear and tear on players unless teams treat the final week like a glorified preseason game, and I don’t think NFL players and coaches are good at easing off the throttle like that.
We’ll get official word soon enough, I’d wager, but for now go ahead and pencil in Falcons-Jaguars on the schedule for 2021.