The NFL will reportedly be adding a 17th game to regular season schedules sometime this week, according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
NFL owners are set to vote on the schedule change on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The terms of the current collective bargaining agreement allow team owners to add a 17th game beginning this year. It marks the first change to the NFL schedule since 1978 when the league expanded from a 14- to a 16-game schedule. The 43-year span is the longest the NFL went without a change to is schedule.
The addition of the 17th game was part of the league’s negotiations for its new television contracts with CBS, Fox, ESPN, NBC and Amazon. ESPN bid on and won the rights to a Week 18 Saturday doubleheader.
The move is seen as a way to help offset some of the financial loss from the COVID-19 pandemic and generate additional revenue to help with the reduced salary cap.
With the change to the schedule, Week 1 will start on Sept. 12 and the season will run through Week 18 on Jan. 9. The Super Bowl will be delayed a week to Feb. 13. There will be no additional bye weeks, and the NFL is considering cutting the preseason from four to three games.
The additional game to be voted on by the owners is decided based on a scheduling formula that will yield a rotating cross-conference game based on the previous season’s divisional standings.
AFC and NFC teams will alternate hosting the 17th game every other year. The AFC will host first in 2021. Under this formula, the Tennessee Titans — the AFC South champions — will host the NFC South champion New Orleans Saints at Nissan Stadium.
The last time the two teams met, the Saints took a 38-28 win at Nissan Stadium in Week 15 of the 2019 campaign in Ryan Tannehill’s first season with the team.