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Packers likely to play Chiefs in 2021 as NFL expects to expand to 17 games

The NFL might finally get its Rodgers-Mahomes moment this fall.

A cancer survivor, Chiefs Mike Pennel returns to the place that saved my life Jill Toyoshiba/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The NFL might finally get its Aaron Rodgers vs. Patrick Mahomes game. Although the league surely hoped it would happen in the regular season in 2019 and again in this year’s Super Bowl, the matchups between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs — and the two State Farm insurance spokesmen — didn’t happen.

Two years ago, Mahomes suffered an injury shortly before the two teams were scheduled to play, forcing the Chiefs to start backup Matt Moore instead. Then this year’s NFC Championship Game happened, keeping the Packers out of Super Bowl LV. But as the NFL firms up its plans for a 17-game schedule moving forward, it appears that the league’s plans for adding that extra game will result in another Packers-Chiefs matchup.

According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, the league’s plan will go off as follows:

  1. 17th game will be AFC vs. NFC
  2. The divisions involved will be the divisions that played each other two years ago (e.g. the 2019 divisional matchups will be the basis for the 17th game in 2021; the 2020 matchups will be game 17 in 2022, and so on)
  3. Like the two intra-conference games each year, this game will feature teams that finished in the same place in their respective divisions the previous season
  4. Finally, the AFC teams would host all games in 2021, with the NFC hosting in 2022.

When you put all of these stipulations together, you see that the Packers will be traveling to Kansas City sometime in 2021. The NFC North played the AFC West in 2019, and both the Packers and Chiefs won their divisions (and earned their conferences’ top seeds) last season. With the AFC hosting, that puts this game at Arrowhead Stadium.

These two teams’ last meeting also came at Arrowhead, however, making for an interesting change in the typical alternating home/road schedule for cross-conference matchups. The Packers won the 2019 matchup 31-24 despite Davante Adams’ absence, as Rodgers threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns, including a 67-yard score to Aaron Jones for the game’s final points. That contest also featured APC’s pick for the best play of the team’s 2019 season.

A Rodgers-Mahomes matchup would be ratings gold, and it would be a no-brainer pick for a Sunday Night Football contest — much as the 2019 game between these teams was.

King’s article also reveals a few other nuggets about the 2021 schedule. For one, the addition of a 17th game will not come with an extra bye week, meaning teams will play 17 games in 18 weeks. The season will start at the same time as usual, which will push the playoffs and the Super Bowl back a week apiece. That may also push the NFL to play a Wild Card game on a Monday, since it will no longer conflict with the College Football Playoff championship game.

The Packers already face what looks to be a tough schedule in 2021, with the AFC North (which fielded three playoff teams), and the NFC West (two playoff teams) as well as a pair of NFC division winners in Washington and New Orleans on the schedule. Adding in a game at Kansas City would make the possibility of a repeat as the NFC’s top seed that much tougher.