The NFL has managed to stay on top of all sports markets in the USA and we see the league trying hard to make its way onto the world stage. Currently, the NBA is the more popular league worldwide, but it cannot even compare to the ratings and the revenue that the NFL generates domestically.
This is mainly due to the fact that the National Football League is very versatile in its approach and constantly adapts to the challenges that these modern times present to us all.
The 2021 season will see the first change to the NFL schedule since 1978. This year, we will see our favorite teams play 17 regular season games compared to 16 in the years before. This will also affect the pre-season.
The matches that teams take part in before the regular season used to be 4. From now on, there will be 3 pre-season games. According to may it’s a win-win situation for the players and the owners.
- The owners are all about generating cash flow. They want to have games on TV and they want to have fans in the stands. The number of matches that a team plays will essentially remain the same – 20 (excluding playoffs).
For years, the players have tried to push for fewer pre-season games because they seem meaningless. Owners have pushed back because it affects how much money they make. This new situation will be sort of a middle ground for everyone.
- From a players’ perspective, this is also not a bad change because they won’t have to play in games that do not matter. Instead, the stars that we love, will be able to cash in one more game check per season. Furthermore, one more regular season game will allow many players to maybe reach a milestone in their contracts for extra incentives.
Who doesn’t benefit from a shorter NFL pre-season schedule?
It’s not all perfectly good though. There are 32 franchises in the NFL with 53-man first-team rosters which equals 1,696 players. Everybody else is either on a practice squad or looking for any sort of contract. Each year we see 254 college players being drafted out of more than 16,000 eligible ones. This means that you have about a 1.6% chance to play in the NFL after playing in college.
Little time to prove yourself in the NFL pre-season
Everyone who isn’t drafted can attend some open practices during the summer and try to become an undrafted free agent. If you got a 1.6% chance of being drafted, what do you think is the chance for you to become a pro without being drafted? We couldn’t even calculate it.
That being said, it’s exceptionally important for every player battling for a roster spot to play in as many pre-season games as possible. You only have so many chances to impress your coaches and being able to play in 1 pre-season match less is definitely not good for anybody who’s not a star.
We are already used to seeing many stories of such players from popular docuseries such as Hard Knocks and All or Nothing. We have to realize that beyond the people they show us on camera, there are just as many in the same situation.
How will the shortened pre-season affect NFL coaches?
From the coaches’ perspective having one pre-season game, less is also not ideal. Coaches are already aware of who’s the star player of the team and they also have a general idea of the starting units. However, you want to have these players play together before the games start to matter.
One would argue that the training camp practices are enough, but this is rarely the case. A coach can never have too many opportunities to evaluate his players and to have them improve their chemistry.
That being said, we have to respect the fact that Sean McVay rested all his starters during the 2018 pre-season and made the Super Bowl this very year. The truth is out there somewhere but it obviously comes down to every single coach’s preference and way of work. Some may need more time with their players and scouts before being satisfied with the product they have on the field.
What is the 2021-2022 NFL Pre-season Schedule?
The schedule is not out yet. The NFL typically announces the full schedule around the middle of May. At this point, we only know when the NFL Hall of Fame game is taking place.
- Dallas Cowboys @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:00 PM (ET), Tuesday, August 5th.
This is the only solid piece of information we have so far when it comes to the schedule for the pre-season in the NFL.
Additionally, we now know all the regular season opponents and matchups. However, exact times and dates are not clear yet. We only know who your favorite team’s hosting and who they are visiting.
Will there be international NFL pre-season games?
The NFL never plays any pre-season games abroad especially given the current situation. However, the plan is for the London games to return in 2021 after they were all postponed in 2020. This part of the schedule is also not announced yet.
All we know is that we expect the Jacksonville Jaguars to host a game in London as well as the Atlanta Falcons. As for the latter, it is known that their London game will not be a division clash. This automatically means that we will not see the Saints, Panthers, or Buccaneers facing the Falcons in London.
Instead, it will be one of the following opponents:
- Philadelphia Eagles
- New England Patriots
- New York Jets
- Detroit Lions
- Washington Redskins
Every matchup here has the potential of being a good one because in the NFL you never know who’s going to have a great year. The four London games typically take place in late October – Early November over 4 consecutive Sundays.
Stick around for more exclusive updates and the latest info on the NFL scheduling and the pre-season games in 2021.