We have some potential early scheduling news for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2021 slate.
According to Football Morning in America’s Peter King, the NFL is “highly likely” to add a 17th game to the 2021 regular season schedule, which isn’t all that surprising, given that the players approved a collective bargaining deal in 2020 that included an option for a 17-game schedule beginning in 2021. The bigger news here is that King may have some insight into how the NFL plans to configure the extra game for each team.
For the Jaguars, the 17th opponent will most likely be the Atlanta Falcons, assuming what King is reporting is accurate — things could still be subject to change. This game will also likely be at home inside TIAA Bank Field for Jacksonville.
Why the Falcons, though? Well, according to King, this is how the league plans to determine the opponent for a 17th game for each NFL franchise:
“A note about how the league configured the extra game: When the NFL was choosing options, the formula that prevailed—follow me now—was AFC versus NFC, cross-conference matchup from two years ago, 2021 matchup based on 2020 standings. Now that you’re totally confused, here’s an example: The four AFC West teams played the four NFC North teams in 2019. In 2020, Kansas City finished in first place in the AFC West, Green Bay first in the NFC North. So in 2021, it’s AFC West against NFC North, and 1-versus-1 from ‘20 becomes Green Bay versus Kansas City. I will bet you a Kroll’s West cheeseburger with an ice-cold Spotted Cow that the networks will brawl over this ratings-gold game. This game alone is reason enough for the league to rush the 17th game onto the 2021 schedule.”
Essentially, what this means is that the AFC and NFC will face off for an extra game every year moving forward, and for 2021, the divisions that played each other during the 2019 season will play each other again this coming season, and the matchups will be based on the final standing from the most recent season in 2020.
So, to break it down, the AFC South played the NFC South in 2019. The Jaguars (1-15) finished in last place of the AFC South in 2020, while the Falcons (4-12) finished last in the NFC South in 2020. Therefore, Atlanta meets Jacksonville in 2021 in this scenario. The Falcons defeated the Jaguars 24-12 in 2019.
King also reports that the AFC is “likely to be hosting all 16 games” in 2021, and then it will flip, with the NFC hosting all of the crossover games in 2022 — so, if true, the Jaguars will host the Falcons in Jacksonville at some point this coming season.
Additionally, King mentions that if a 17th game is indeed added, the season schedule would be pushed back a week, and the regular season would have each team play 17 games over an 18-week period. There would not be a second bye week for each team, as some had speculated. This could also cause the Super Bowl, which is currently set for Feb. 6, 2022, to be pushed back a week, with a likely new date of Feb. 13, 2022 — which would be the latest Super Bowl in league history.
It has not yet been determined if this extra game will be the regular season finale for each team, or if the extra game will just be sprinkled into the teams’ schedules throughout the duration of the season, meaning these games could happen at any time. That’s something to pay attention to moving forward.
Other opponents for the Jaguars in 2021 include both home and road dates with division rivals — the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans — as well as home dates against the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos. The away opponents are the Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals.