There has been much speculation over the past several months on whether or not the NFL would expand the season to 17 regular season games.

As early as last week, the speculation continued that it would happen some time in the future but not in the next season or two.

But a tumultuous 2020 season and empty stadiums have answered the question of what to do.

Beginning with the 2021 NFL season, teams will play 17 regular season games.  The regular season itself will last 18 weeks in order to give each team a week off. 

While the global pandemic put a temporary end to pre-season games, normally the teams play four pre-season games to allow coaches time to form their 53 man roster and practice team.  With the addition of a regular season game, the number of pre-season games will be reduced to two or three games.

With the salary cap dropping next season due to the massive drop in revenue, the extra game will allow for some increased income.

Depending on how the season in constructed, the NFL season could extend to the second week of February; bumping it up against the beginning of NASCAR season and the Daytona 500. 

The NFL could also keep the Super Bowl on the first Sunday of February or end of January by beginning the regular season one week earlier after eliminating a pre-season game.

The extra odd numbered game could also offer the NFL a bigger opportunity for neutral site games.  In a normal regular season, the NFL holds games in the UK and Mexico; they are also looking to host games in Canada, China, Japan, Germany and Brazil.

Official announcements are still in limbo while the NFL negotiates new media contracts.