For the first time since 1978, the NFL regular season is expanding. Starting in 2021, all 32 teams will play 17 games, meaning everything from final records to yearly statistics to late-season wear and tear will be different. But which of the 32 teams benefit most -- or least -- from this year's expansion? Now that every team has an additional game, after all, some are bound to face tougher schedules than others. Fortunately, SportsLine's Stephen Oh compared simulation-based playoff percentages for each team based on a 16-game schedule and the new 17-game schedule to identify the winners and losers.
Most teams didn't experience a major bump or decrease in playoff chances based on the additional game, but here's a rundown of notable movers based on Oh's simulations:
- The Falcons' playoff percentage improves from 38% to 42% by getting a game against the Jaguars, while the Buccaneers and Saints get games against the Colts and Titans, respectively.
- The Dolphins' playoff chances go up from 57.6% to 60.2%, enjoying a similar bump as the Patriots (+2.35%), Bills (+1%) and Jets (+1%) because the AFC East gets to play the NFC East to close 2021, whereas the three AFC North playoff teams from 2020 will be forced to play the NFC West.
- The Eagles' playoff chances rose by 2.5% because they will play the Jets in Week 17.
- The 49ers' playoff chances increased by 2.5% because they'll play the Bengals in Week 17.
- The Colts' playoff chances dropped 1.76% because they will play the Buccaneers in Week 17.
- The Rams saw their playoff percentage dip from 70.8% to 68.8% because of a new game against the Ravens.
- Washington's playoff chances went down 1.8% because of a Week 17 matchup with the Bills.
A lot has to happen, of course, before these teams even set foot on the field for the first time. But don't be surprised if some teams are, in fact, legitimately affected because of their additional game. It's one thing to host a rebuilding team with a playoff spot on the line, after all, and another to visit a bona fide playoff contender to close the year.