With the NFL owners officially voting to expand the regular-season schedule from 16 to 17 games one of the biggest winners might be Germany and that's because there's a good chance the Germans will get to host a regular season game as soon as next year.
According to an NFL memo obtained by by Sports Illustrated, the league is currently eyeing the German market and if all goes as planned, the NFL will likely be putting a game in either Munich or Berlin starting with the 2022 season.
According to the memo, the NFL's tentative plan for 2022 is to put two games in London, one game in Mexico and one game in Germany (For international games in 2021, the NFL is going to ease back into things with just two games, according to the memo, with the Jaguars likely playing in one of of those).
The fact that Germany could be getting a game is probably welcome news to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has been fighting to get a game played in the country since at least 2018.
Leaving Goodell press conference, #Patriots owner Robert Kraft has interesting exchange w/ German reporter. Kraft says he’d like NFL to play game in Germany. Has told Goodell that. And speaking of Patriots, Kraft adds “we’d be willing to play if they’d kindly arrange that.”— Shira Springer (@ShiraSpringer) January 31, 2018
When the owner voted to expand the schedule, they also passed a measure that will require every team to "host" at least one international game every eight years and the guess here is that one division each year will have to host those games. If one division is hosting every year, that would allow all 32 teams to play at least one home international game over an eight-year period.
The teams hosting the four international games each season will come from the conference that gets the ninth home game on the new 17-game schedule. The AFC and NFC will be alternating hosting duties for the extra game and for 2021, the AFC will be the host conference. That means the NFC will be hosting games in 2022 and because of that, four NFC teams will have to play a "home" international game in 2022. According to the NFL memo, any team that has to "host" an international game will have the right to protect all its divisional games plus one non-divisional game from being moved.
By requiring every team to play abroad, that will make it much easier for the NFL to schedule its international games. The league has been trying to schedule four international games in each season over the past few years and that hasn't been a simple thing to do, because teams don't like the idea of giving up a home game. In an effort to try and get teams to volunteer to play in international games, the NFL passed a rule in 2014 that required a team to play abroad if it wanted to host a Super Bowl, but that rule is going to be scrapped.
Although the NFL plans to put a new international schedule rotation in place, the league will also still be taking volunteers for those games, which means that in the future, we could see a season where more than four games are played abroad.
As a matter of fact, the NFL is already eyeing the possibility of putting regular season games in other countries besides Germany. According to Sports Illustrated, the NFL would also like to eventually put games in both Canada and Brazil.