The NFL owners, in a virtual meeting today, approved the implementation of 17-game schedules for all 32 teams for the coming season.
And for those who want to know what that means for the Jets, we could call it a Philadelphia story.
The Jets' original 16 opponents of 2021 were known at the end of the 2020 regular season. Their 17th game just released will be a home game at MetLife Stadium against the Philadelphia Eagles, who had been the Jets' annual preseason opponents and are the Northeast's other "green team."
The NFL has been working the prime numbers in its most recent major schedule announcements. A year ago the league unveiled its plans for seven playoff teams per conference, up from six, which it implemented this past postseason.
And the new 17-game skeds had been in the planning stages since last March when the owners and players approved the new CBA, with the owners then approving the format for determining each team's 17th opponent in December. It's the first planned change in regular-season schedules since 16-game seasons began in 1978.
Why Jets-Eagles? The schedule-makers decided the formula that works best for 2021 (and beyond) is to match up AFC and NFC teams, with the conference divisions based on the division rotation from two seasons earlier, 2019, and the games based on where the teams finished in the 2020 division standings. The AFC East and NFC East played in '19, the Jets and Eagles both finished in fourth place this past season, so the teams will meet in '21. So will Buffalo and Washington, Miami and the Giants, and New England and Dallas.
See All of the Teams the Jets Will Play During the 2021 Season
All those games will be played at the AFC East teams this year so as not to give some division teams advantages by playing nine home games while others played eight.
In conjunction with the 17th regular-season games, all teams will play three preseason games this summer. This year the Jets will have one home preseason game and two preseason games on the road. Preseason Week 4 will become a bye week for all teams before the 2021 regular-season kickoff. The NFL plan is that all teams will now get 10 home games, either eight in the regular season and two in the preseason or, as with the Jets this upcoming season, nine and one.
Rather than playing Philadelphia at home two games in a row, the Jets will have the MetLife game vs. the Eagles this year and two years later will be the road team at Lincoln Financial Field when the AFC East and NFC East match up in their every-four-years rotation.
One more wrinkle: As part of the league's 17th-game policy, beginning next year, the teams with a ninth home game are automatically volunteered to "throw their names into the hat" to host an international game. Every team will host one international game in an eight-year span
The Jets have never played more home games than road games in a regular season. If playoff games are included, the Jets played one more home game than road game only in their 1968 Super season (8-7 split and not including neutral-field Super Bowl III), 1969 (8-7), 1981 (9-8), 1985 (9-8) and 1987 (8-7).
To fit in all the Game 17s, the new schedule will not start earlier than usual (NFL Kickoff Weekend will begin Thursday, Sept. 9) but would extend one week later than usual (to Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022), with no extra bye week added (17 games in 18 weeks for all teams). That of course would push the postseason schedule back a week and result in Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles being played Feb. 13 — the latest Super Bowl in history by six days.