We may still be waiting for the long-awaited showdown between Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. When it comes to setting the 2021 schedule, the NFL can’t wait much longer before locking in the upcoming Packers-Chiefs game.
As Peter King points out in his latest Football Morning in America column, the uncertainty over Rodgers’ status with the Packers complicates the finalization of the schedule, which is due to be released in nine days.
It’s one of the best games of the year, if Rodgers plays for Green Bay. That’s currently looking like a sizable if. Which means, as King points out, that the NFL needs to protect itself against the possibility that it will be Jordan Love not Aaron Rodgers playing quarterback for the team with the yellow helmet. Whether that’s with a late-afternoon game that can be flexed to 1:00 p.m. ET or a Sunday night game that can be moved to the afternoon, it suddenly becomes an important consideration.
The good news, as we pointed out last week, is that the loss of the first Rodgers-Mahomes battle could result in two of them, if Rodgers ends up with the Broncos or Raiders. It makes sense for the league to keep a late-season Broncos-Chiefs game and a late-season Raiders-Chiefs game in prime position.
There’s also an argument to be made for keeping both Broncos-Chiefs or Raiders-Chiefs in the back pocket so that they can be moved into bigger and better spots, if they end up featuring a quarterback intersection that we missed in 2019 due to Mahomes’ knee injury and in Super Bowl LV due to a fateful decision to kick a field goal, among other things.
Regardless, one of the best games of the year may not happen. And there’s still a chance that two other games will become a lot better. The NFL surely will factor these possibilities into the always-difficult task of scheduling every regular-season game.