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2021 NFL schedule will be released after the draft

Updated: May 12, 2021

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

For the second consecutive year, the NFL regular-season schedule will be released after the draft, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. The news is not surprising, as there were previous reports that the 2021 NFL schedule was expected to be released in mid-May.

The NFL owners formally approved the 17-game regular-season schedule at the virtual owners meetings a few weeks ago. The 17-game schedule will begin this year, ending the 16-game schedule platform that began in 1978.

With the expanding 17-game schedule, each team would play an extra interconference matchup -- AFC vs. NFC -- based on divisional standings from the preceding season and on a rotating divisional basis. All the AFC teams will be home in 2021 for the extra interconference game and then the NFC teams will be home in 2022.

With the league adding an extra regular-season game, teams will now have just three preseason games, although the Steelers will have four in 2021 due to playing the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game. The Steelers will host nine regular-season games and one preseason game in 2021.

The Steelers will host the Seahawks at Heinz Field in 2021 as their additional opponent. The Steelers finished the regular season 12-4 last year, likewise did Seattle, and they both won their respective divisions. The rest of the AFC North teams will face the NFC West as well.

The Steelers will play the Ravens, Browns, Bengals, Broncos, Bears, Lions, Raiders, Titans and Seahawks at home in 2021. On the road, they will play the Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Chiefs, Packers, Vikings, Chargers and Bills.

By winning the AFC North in 2020, the Steelers will play a first-place schedule in 2021, and they'll have tough road games at Kansas City, Buffalo and Green Bay. The Steelers also have the toughest schedule in the league in 2021 based on their opponents' combined record of 155-115-2 (.574) in 2020. It includes 10 games against 2020 playoff teams, counting the Browns and Ravens twice.

The expected mid-may schedule release would make it the latest schedule release in league history. The delay is due to the creation of a 17-game season and uncertainties regarding attendance in the second year post-pandemic.

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