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Cardinals, NFL Expected To Get 17th Game Next Season

NFC teams will get extra game against an AFC opponent

It looks like the 17-game regular season will be a reality in 2021.

NFL.com reported that the additional game -- which will come with a corresponding drop in preseason games, likely down to three and keeping the total number of games at 20 -- still isn't set in stone. Part of the equation of adding the game is the media package (and money) that comes with it. But adding a meaningful game to the season and monetizing it means a chance to ease at least some of the salary cap drop that is expected going forward after the lack of fans/drop in revenue due to the coronavirus.

The extra game, as was already determined by the owners, will be an extra NFC vs. AFC matchup, with divisions linking up and each team playing the opponent who finished in the same divisional place the year before (first place v first place, second v second, etc.) Where the games take place is to be determined, but it makes sense they would slide into the international series in London, Mexico City and other places where the NFL has been hoping to stage games for a number of years.

The Cards, of course, had been set to "host" a game in Mexico City this season -- the opponent was never officially determined -- before COVID wiped out any international games.

If a 17th game were to be played next season, the plan is for the NFC West to get the AFC North, meaning a game with either the Browns or the Ravens, depending on Sunday's results. Intriguing QB matchups either way with Kyler Murray. The NFC West already is matched up fully with the AFC South in 2021.

Browns QB Baker Mayfield and Cardinals QB Kyler Murray after a game in 2019.
Browns QB Baker Mayfield and Cardinals QB Kyler Murray after a game in 2019.

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