Finishing an NFL season at .500 will now require a tie or three as the league officially approved a 17-game schedule beginning in 2021.
The approval came during a vote of team owners on Tuesday.
The ability for the league to add a 17th game was approved by the players as part of the league’s new collective-bargaining agreement passed last March.
So what does this mean for the Seahawks?
In 2021, it means another road game at Pittsburgh.
In an attempt to keep things fair for playoff spots within conferences, all teams from one conference will play an extra road game one year, and then the other conference will play an extra road game the next.
So, in 2021 every NFC team will play another road game against a team that placed in the same spot as it did in another division in the AFC, in keeping with the usual NFL scheduling formula.
That has Seattle headed to Pittsburgh, which won the AFC North last year. The Rams, who were second in the NFC West, will play at the Ravens, who were second in the AFC North, and so on.
In 2022, Seattle and the rest of the NFC will get a ninth home game.
The NFL also announced that the preseason will be shortened to three games.
But the teams that play an extra road game in the regular season will be assured of having two home preseason games that same season. So that means teams will still have 20 total games each year, with 10 at home.
To accommodate the extra regular-season game, the league will simply add a week at the end of the year, with the league keeping the usual weekend-after-Labor-Day starting date. That means the first game of the regular season will be held Sept. 9, and the final weekend of the regular season on Jan. 9, 2022.
The Super Bowl will be moved back a week, to Feb. 13, 2022.
The NFL has played 16 regular-season games since 1978, having played 14 from 1961-77.
“This is a monumental moment in NFL history,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “The CBA with the players and the recently completed media agreements provide the foundation for us to enhance the quality of the NFL experience for our fans. And one of the benefits of each team playing 17 regular-season games is the ability for us to continue to grow our game around the world.”
The NFL also announced that every team will play one international game every eight years on a rotating basis beginning in 2022. Seattle has played only one international regular-season game, against the Raiders in 2018 in London.
Seattle’s home opponents in 2021 are the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and New Orleans Saints.
Seattle’s road opponents are the Rams, 49ers, Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Football Team and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dates, times and TV designations for all games have yet to be set. That is expected to occur in May.
The NFL on Tuesday also said that teams can begin their offseason programs on April 19. But it hasn’t been decided if those will include on-field workouts. Meetings are expected to still be done virtually.