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Colts to host Brady and Bucs in new 17-game season format

Each extra NFL game will be an interconference matchup based on where teams finished in the previous season. AFC teams will be hosting the 17th game in 2021.
Credit: AP
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL is increasing the regular season to 17 games and reducing the preseason to three games.

Team owners on Tuesday approved the 17th game as expected, marking the first time in 43 years the regular season has been increased. It went from 14 to 16 games in 1978.

The Super Bowl now will move back a week to Feb. 13, which places it directly in the middle of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Coincidentally, NBC has the broadcast rights to both.

Each extra NFL game will be an interconference matchup based on where teams finished in the previous season. As part of the new format, AFC teams, including the Colts, will host nine regular season home games and one preseason game in 2021. The added regular season game will be against an NFC opponent. It just so happens, that opponent will be the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Indianapolis.

  • Season tickets for 2021, which will include the additional regular season game, are currently available at Colts.com/SeasonTickets or by calling 317-297-7000.
  • Single-game tickets to the Tampa Bay game and the rest of the home schedule will go on sale at Colts.com/Tickets or Ticketmaster.com once the official 2021 NFL schedule is released in May.

“This is a new day for the NFL, and we’re excited to continue the league’s century-long tradition of providing high-quality, exciting experiences and entertainment to a national and now global audience,” said Roger VanDerSnick, Colts chief sales & marketing officer. “This expanded regular season schedule also gives our great fans yet another opportunity to share in the gameday experience, whether in person at the stadium or watching from home.”

The Colts are planning to host a full 2021 schedule with fans in attendance as long as health restrictions don't cause an adjustment.  

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sounded optimistic Tuesday about having fans in the seats this year.

“We're discussing plans to welcome back all fans across the country at all stadiums,” he said. “All of us want to see every one of our fans back. Football is not the same without fans, and we expect to have full stadiums in the upcoming season.”

Many players weren't thrilled with the idea of adding an extra game. Saints star running back Alvin Kamara previously called the increase to 17 games "dumb." 

Regardless, it was widely expected to happen because the owners want it and don't need the union's permission.

The 2021 NFL season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 9. The regular season will end on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022.