/How a 17-game NFL season clears the path for Jerry Jones, Cowboys to host another Super Bowl – The Dallas Morning News

How a 17-game NFL season clears the path for Jerry Jones, Cowboys to host another Super Bowl – The Dallas Morning News


NFL owners voted Tuesday to expand the regular season from 16 to 17 games, a landmark shift that, beyond the obvious impact on the Cowboys’ 2021 schedule, removes a hoop through which the Cowboys needed to jump in order to host their next Super Bowl in Arlington.

The league generally schedules a slate of international games each year in hopes to grow interest in the NFL across the world. Most team owners, however, are reluctant to sacrifice a game in their home stadium to support the initiative.

In 2014, the NFL enacted a policy to improve club participation in the International Series. Any franchise that won a Super Bowl hosting bid became required to play at least one home game in London within five years of the bid’s acceptance.

The Cowboys are interested in hosting a Super Bowl again. They haven’t done so since Feb. 6, 2011, and their earliest plausible opportunity for the event’s return is February 2027. But if he can avoid it, owner Jerry Jones would prefer not to export a home game from AT&T Stadium in the process.

Now, he can avoid it.

Tuesday’s schedule resolution included language that removes Super Bowl host clubs from their obligation to send a home game abroad.

“That provision was included to really get the original International Series off the ground and making sure that there was inventory,” said Chris Halpin, NFL executive vice president and chief strategy and growth officer. “It was an element in return for getting a Super Bowl, there would be a game abroad. The reality is now that we’ve committed long-term inventory and volunteer teams like the Jaguars, who are going to continue to have a long-term commitment to London …we don’t require that Super Bowl commitment to inventory.”

Jones is not off the hook entirely.

No NFL owner is.

A 17-game schedule provided the league a novel way to export home games. Beginning this season, the 17th game will be an interconference matchup. Each AFC team picks up an extra home game in 2021 against an NFC team. That will alternate each year; NFC teams will be the ones who play a ninth home game in 2022 versus an interconference opponent.

In 2021, the Cowboys will travel to play the New England Patriots.

Starting in 2022, four of these 16 interconference games will be played internationally, and there will be a rotation so that, within an eight-year span, each NFL club will host at least one interconference game abroad.

A trip to the Patriots’ Gillette Stadium makes a difficult Cowboys road schedule even tougher.

Aside from the NFC East, Dallas already was scheduled to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota Vikings on the road. The Bucs and Chiefs competed in last month’s Super Bowl.

At home, the Cowboys will play the NFC East, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders and Arizona Cardinals in 2021. The schedule of dates and times won’t be finalized until later this spring.

With the expanded regular season, the standard preseason was shortened from four to three games.

But this year, the Cowboys will play four. One will be the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Canton, Ohio. Then, they’ll play their customary three exhibitions.

Each NFC team in 2021 will play two preseason games at home and one on the road.

Each AFC team, because of the extra home game during the regular season, will play one exhibition at home and two on the road.

That, too, will alternate each year.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott takes the field to face the Atlanta Falcons in an NFL football game at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Arlington.

Find more Cowboys coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

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