NEW YORK – One of the more talked about moves in the National Football League over the past few years is now finally going to happen.
On Tuesday during the league’s virtual meetings, owners approved a new 17-game regular season schedule. It’s the first expansion of the slate for teams since 1978, when the schedule was expanded from 14 to 16 games, remaining there ever since.
The 43-years with that number of games was the longest stretch in league history without a change to the number of regular season contests.
For the 2021 season, the 17th game for each team will be against an opponent from the opposing conference who finished in the same place within their division. Since the Bears play the AFC North this year as part of the rotation, the Bears will face the Raiders, the second team in the AFC West, in Las Vegas for their 17th game in 2021.
Along with this, the NFL also announced that the preseason will be reduces to three games from four.
Due to the changes in the schedule, a few of the league’s dates have been moved back, though the season is still scheduled to start on Thursday, September 9th. The end to the regular season will now be on Sunday, January 9th, with the Pro Bowl being on Sunday, February 6th in Las Vegas and the Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles taking place on Sunday, February 13th.
This will be the latest a Super Bowl has been staged in league history.
Along with these changes in 2021, a new one is coming in 2022 thanks to the expanded schedule. The league also announced that each team will travel internationally to play a game every eight years.