The Steelers could ultimately be affected by the new NFL league rule, adding a 17th game to the regular-season NFL schedule.
As the new 2021 season campaign just kicked off Thursday night between the Dallas Cowboys and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the expiration of the current CBA contract was going to be allowed to pass.
Although talks during the offseason eased up tension and an agreement was signed, talks were swirling around adding one game onto the regular season with no additional bye weeks. In recent memory, the only season with a Week 18 was 1993 as the NFL attempted to add an extra bye into the season.
Pros for an additional game have been stated as more revenue stream from stadiums and sponsors, which the league thrives on. Additional revenue from merchandise sales has been included as well, and time will show in Week 18 and when the NFL reports their earnings for the fourth quarter of 2021.
Looking back from last season, had an extra game been played, the playoff standings might have seemed different and the outcome could’ve played out better.
What that entails for the 2021 season and beyond remains to be seen.
The good news for us as fans is we will watch an extra regular-season game that will have plenty of implications, whether it will be the playoffs or the following offseason, but the bad news is that there are outcomes that may not favor all the 32 teams, including our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here are possible outcomes that the Steelers organization needs to look out for.
Steelers affected by change in tiebreakers
Now that a plus-one game will be played, much like how the College Football Playoff is based on, the chances of a tiebreaker to determine playoff seeds and division winners will lessen.
The extra game will be the likely deciding factor in determining playoff seeds than the regular tiebreaker system, such as head-to-head and conference records, which is a win-win not letting arithmetics decide who goes on, just a basic one on one.
At times, the tiebreaker system may need to be used, but not as much. Referring back to Pittsburgh’s last regular-season game versus the Cleveland Browns (a what-if), had an extra game occurred even during the COVID pandemic, the Steelers would just need to win the game against whoever the opponent could’ve been, and they would’ve faced the Indianapolis Colts and Browns.
If the Steelers lost, they would’ve played against the Buffalo Bills.
Steelers could experience side-effect from other sports, community events
As the NFL made the announcement of the 17th game, many questions were asked about the determination of an opponent and whether many local and national events would need to be rescheduled to accommodate the move.
Examples include concerts, marathons, charity events, other sporting events like hockey and basketball, and specifically, Pittsburgh’s notorious road construction.
The NFL did conclude that the game cannot be a division or inter-conference one to have an even playing field plus making Week 18 all divisional matchups, thus decided on an extra intra-conference matchup, as the case will be in Week 6 against the Seattle Seahawks at home.
I’m all for an extra game of football, just hoping it doesn’t backfire on the league, and most likely will not.