ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — More football is headed to Broncos Country.
The NFL voted Tuesday to approve a 17-game regular-season schedule, which will begin in 2021. The league has played a 16-game regular-season schedule since 1978.
This move will benefit Broncos fans immediately, as the Broncos will host nine regular-season home games next season. As part of the new schedule formula, the additional game will be an inter-conference matchups between AFC and NFC opponents. In 2021, the AFC teams will host the matchups, and the conferences will alternate hosting responsibilities in ensuing years.
For competitive fairness, the 17th game will feature teams in the AFC and NFC that finished in the same place in their respective division in the previous year. In 2021, Denver will face the Detroit Lions, as both teams finished in fourth place in their divisions in 2020. The other AFC West teams will also face teams in the NFC North in 2021.
The Broncos are also scheduled to face their division foes in a home-and-away format, the AFC North, NFC East and the 2020 fourth-place finishers from the AFC East and AFC South.
In addition to the Lions, Denver will host the Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders, Bengals, Ravens, Eagles, Washington Football Team and New York Jets. The Broncos will travel to play the Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders, Browns, Steelers, Cowboys, Giants and Jaguars.
As part of the shift to a 17-game schedule, Denver will host just one preseason game this year as the preseason slate shrinks to three games.
The regular season will begin on Sept. 9 and end on Sunday, Jan. 9. Teams will continue to have one bye week during the new 17-game slate. Super Bowl LVI will be played on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles.
In future years, the Broncos will also be more likely to play in front of their international fans. Beginning in 2022, the NFL will be able to host as many as four international games per year. Each NFL team will play an international game at least once every eight seasons.
The official 2021 schedule will be released this spring. The 2020 schedule was released on May 7.