NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has consistently stated that he’s troubled by late-season games in which teams that have already clinched a playoff seed decide to rest their top players rather than play to win.
As a result, Goodell said today at the annual league meetings, he’s hoping to arrange the schedule so that the last two weeks of the season are heavy on games featuring divisional opponents playing each other.
“It is still an issue and I spoke to the Competition Committee about it on Sunday,” Goodell said. “One of the key things we’re doing in the short term is in our scheduling. We’re trying to schedule, potentially, Week Seventeen will be all division opponents. And maybe even a large part of Week Sixteen.
“So we think that will address this to some extent. It will not necessarily eliminate the issue but the Competition Committee — and I’ve stressed to them — we need to continue to look at this because it’s important to the quality of what we do, the integrity of our game.”
Goodell is right that this proposal wouldn’t eliminate the problem of Week Seventeen becoming irrelevant to most teams. Re-arranging the Colts’ schedule, for instance, wouldn’t have done anything to change the fact that they benched Peyton Manning during Week 16 and sacrificed the chance at a perfect season.
But it’s a step in the right direction. A final Sunday in which all 32 teams are playing divisional opponents sounds like a more exciting day of football than the NFL has given its fans in Week Seventeen the last few years.