With the NFL schedule released earlier this week, I was going to list the games to watch for this season and write about why they should be exciting. Then I realized that would have gotten boring fast. There’s only so much hype you can create for games in a season that’s still more than four months away, especially when we have no idea how things are going to shake down at the draft. And let’s not forget this is the NFL … who knows who the teams to watch will be by Week 4. But what I did learned while looking at the slate of games, is that the NFL needs to change how they construct their schedule.
There aren’t 162 games. There aren’t 82 games. There are 16 games, which makes football so unique since it’s the only league where every regular season game truly matters. It also means that there aren’t enough games to play everyone — especially since teams face each of their divisional foes twice, which takes up 37.5 percent of the schedule.
I’ll use the Patriots as a quick example since they’re the Super Bowl champs and a team I follow closely. Here’s a look at their games aside from the obvious six divisional ones against the Jets, Dolphins and Bills. They face the Steelers, Jaguars, Redskins, Eagles and Titans at home, and the Cowboys, Colts, Giants, Broncos and Texans on the road.
Sure, the road schedule is no piece of cake, but it’s certainly not much of a challenge for the defending champions. And their home schedule is going to be like going through lay-up lines, especially when you factor in the divisional games. The point is, with so few games, we want to see some elite match ups!
Yes, the NFL has a system with the way they rotate which divisions play each other. That’s fair — and really, people are going to watch football on Thursday/Sunday/Monday (and sometimes Saturday) no matter what’s put in front of us — but the schedules should be built more around how good a team has been/is expected to be. Randomness works in every other sport, but we don’t have time to waste on this in the NFL.
Let’s see a rematch with the Seahawks on the Pats schedule. You think that wouldn’t be good for the NFL? The next time they face off the way the schedule currently rotates, both teams might not even be good anymore. The AFC East teams might be New England’s “rivals,” but try getting the Pats and Ravens together every year for an actual competitive rivalry.
And the best part of adding more of these elite games, is that you eliminate the game when the Jaguars fly up to Gillette to get whooped up on and sent back home and replace it with a huge draw. Yes, this also means bad teams play each other more, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. More close games, and closer races for the division.
The way things currently are, the Patriots are going to lose Darrelle Revis and still go 14-2 this season.
I’m not going to offer any solution as to how to arrange this. That’s for much smarter people. An 18-game season is ridiculous, so I’m not proposing that. But there are ways for the NFL to give us more elite regular season match ups and improve the league even further.
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