The NFL is set to make some significant changes to its schedule over the next several seasons as a result of the new television contract and 17-game season, and there's one alteration that may have some mixed reviews amongst fans. The "Monday Night Football" doubleheader that has been a staple on the Week 1 schedule is set to be eliminated beginning this season, per NBC Sports' Peter King.
According to King, the league will replace the doubleheader with a Week 18 Saturday doubleheader on Jan. 8, 2022 -- which will feature two games involving teams with playoff implications. The Saturday doubleheader in the final week of the regular season was added in the NFL's new television contracts, and will begin this season.
The one Week 1 "Monday Night Football" game is expected to start at 8:15 p.m. ET, the same time as the other Monday games during the season. The "Monday Night Football" doubleheader was a staple on the schedule since 2006, as the late game (typically starting at 10:15 p.m. ET), featured West Coast teams. The doubleheader in Week 18 can feature any team in the league that's fighting for a playoff spot or division title, and won't be limited geographically.
The NFL Week 18 schedule is expected to follow this format:
- Two Saturday games (late afternoon and primetime)
- 13 games in the early and late-Sunday afternoon window
- One "Sunday Night Football" game which will feature the top flexed game of the weekend
The Saturday doubleheader games will be flexed, so fans won't know until December which teams will be playing on that weekend. While the Week 1 doubleheader is no more, fans will get more quality football in the final week of the season -- a more-than-fair tradeoff for the league.