Packers president sheds light on how a 17-game NFL schedule will potentially work

With the NFL on the cusp of adding a 17th game to its regular season schedule, one question that the league still hasn't answered is how exactly a new setup would work. The NFL's current 16-game formula has been in place since 2002, and the reason it hasn't been tinkered with is because it's mostly been perfect. 

Adding a 17th game will definitely throw a wrench into things, but it's a wrench the NFL is ready for, and Packers president Mark Murphy revealed this week how the league will most likely handle a 17-game schedule. 

According to Murphy, the plan would involve having all teams in one conference play nine home games while the other conference plays eight homes. The AFC and NFC would then alternate every year on which conference got the ninth home game. 

If this is the formula the NFL goes with, it would almost certainly mean that the 17th game would be a non-conference game for all teams. The easiest way for all AFC teams to play a ninth home game would be to have them host an NFC team. The following year, the 16 teams in the NFC would get a ninth home game by hosting the 16 teams in the AFC. 

If the league wanted to take things one step farther, the extra game would match up two teams that finished in the same spot in the standings, so a first-place team from the AFC would play a first-place team from the NFC and a second-place team would play a second-place team, and so on. If the NFL did that, it would truly create a more difficult schedule for better teams.

Under the current formula, the schedule is inherently the same for all teams, whether they're playing a first place schedule or a last place schedule: Each team plays four games against a first-place team, four games against a second-place team, four games against a third-place team and four games against a fourth-place team for a total of 16 games. Adding another first place game for first place teams would tilt the strength of schedule for all teams and would mean that teams that finish higher in the standings would be more likely to have a more difficult schedule than teams that finish lower in the standings. 

One thing Murphy did point out is that the NFL hasn't officially finalized how the 17th game will work, but this format -- where the conferences alternate the ninth home game -- seems to be the leader in the clubhouse. 

Over the past 12 months, there have been multiple suggestions for how the NFL should handle the 17th game. Some people wanted to see a regional rivalry played every year (i.e. Jets vs. Giants) while others suggested that a neutral site game would make the most sense (i.e. Cowboys vs. Texans in San Antonio). 

One other possibility thrown out was having each team play an international game, but it appears that has been ruled out. Although the league is expecting to hold more international games once the 17th game is added to the schedule, NFL.com has reported that the 17th game definitely won't be an international one for every team. 

One other thing that would change with a 17-game schedule is the amount of preseason games. Under the new format, there would only be three preseason games, and all teams would play 10 home games total, which means a team playing nine home games during the regular season would only play one home game in the preseason. On the other hand, teams playing eight home games in the regular season would play two home games in the preseason. 

Of course, before the NFL can start implementing its plan for a 17-game season, the NFLPA has to approve the new collective bargaining agreement. The player's association decided not to vote on the CBA on Friday, so the two sides will be meeting Tuesday evening to try and iron out their differences. If the owners and players can come to an agreement, a 17-game schedule -- and a new CBA -- could be approved before the week is over. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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