The new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) creates the biggest format change for the NFL since the Texans entered the league in 2002. The divisions realigned that year, forming four 4-team divisions per conference. It ended a three year run with an odd number of teams (after Cleveland came back into the league in 1999) and we've been living that way ever since.
Soon, we will go to 17 games, possibly starting in 2021. This would end a 43 year run of a 16 game regular season schedule (other than the strike/lockout years of 1982 and '87).
With a three year window to activate the 17 game schedule, starting in '21, the thinking is it could possibly go into effect in '22, when the new TV deals get done.
Check out the Houston Texans 2020 opponents and the regular season matchup history with each team.
We'll also immediately (yes, in 2020!) add an extra playoff team per conference, making the total 14. We've seen 12 teams make the playoffs since 1990. Some of you more 'seasoned' fans remember one wildcard game each day on the opening playoff weekend in the '80s, when the post season team total was 10.
Now we'll likely have a triple header each day of the opening wild card weekend. Only one team per conference will get the coveted bye week in the playoffs.
By the way, had the 14 team format been in place, Texans teams would have made the playoffs in 2009 and 2014.
The amount of padded practices goes down and the roster total goes up. We'll finally see an expansion of the game day roster to 48, one of the players being an offensive lineman. There was more than one time in Texans history (and every team's history) when they were down to five offensive linemen on a Sunday afternoon.
The practice squad limit grows to 12 and two of those players can be added to the roster for game day, meaning it will grow to 55. With this change, we'll see more job openings as the NFL looks to keep more players available for each team through the 17 game campaign.
No official word yet on how scheduling 17 games will work. We might see the conferences trade the extra home game every other year (makes sense). And we might see the conference teams with the extra home game getting only one preseason game, assuring that all clubs get at least ten home dates of any kind each year, but no one knows for sure.
As far as the players go, they'll get more money with the extra playoff game and extra week of regular season games. Alums get more benefits and current players get less wear and tear in practice during training camp as padded practices go from 28 to 16, with a five day acclimation period.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 12/29/2020)