The NFL's new 17-game schedule isn't going to be the only thing that's different in 2021. According to a report for NBC Sports' Peter King, the Monday Night Football doubleheader that has been something the league has done to start the season for the last five years has been eliminated. There will just be one Monday night game played on Week 1, but the league is adding a doubleheader to kick off Week 18 on Saturday, January 8, 2022.
King wrote in previous years, the NFL has picked one game in the final week of the season to be played on primetime that had playoff implications. The other 15 games would be played early and late Sunday afternoon. "Now, the league is planning a 2-13-1 setup of games in week 18: two on Saturday (late afternoon and Saturday night), 13 divided between the early and late Sunday afternoon windows, and the premier game of the weekend on Sunday night," King wrote.
The second game of the Monday Night Football doubleheaders would feature west coast teams and would produce low ratings, according to King. It could have to do with the kickoff times since the games would start at around 10 p.m. ET or later. Monday Night Football games normally start around 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.
This news comes after the league approved a 17-game (18-week) schedule. Along with teams getting another regular-season game, they will also see one less preseason game as it will only last for three weeks.
“This is a monumental moment in NFL history,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press release. “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 17th game will feature teams from opposing conferences that finished in the same place within their division. For 2021, it will be NFC East vs. AFC East, NFC West vs. AFC North, NFC South vs. AFC South and NFC North vs. AFC West. The AFC will be the home conference for the 17th game this upcoming season.