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A case for 17 games, not 18

We’ve been pondering all week our feelings regarding the league’s plan to “enhance” the regular season by increasing the number of games from 16 to 18.  We hadn’t previously expressed a firm opinion on the move, in large part because it seems to be inevitable that two regular-season games will be added.  Thus, nothing we have to say will really make much of a difference.

But since that has never stopped us in the past, let’s take a crack at it.

We could live with an 18-week game regular season.  But we prefer 17.  Our reasoning and our concerns appear after the jump.

And feel free to drop your comments below.


First, though the shift in the 20-game schedule from 16 regular-season
games and four preseason contests to 18 and two will not result in a
higher number of injuries per se, since the total number of live reps in a
game setting won’t change, starters would see their exposure to
regular-season injuries increase by more than 10 percent, since they’d
be playing the bulk of the two extra regular-season season games.  Though a
50-percent reduction in total preseason snaps would likewise reduce the
number of preseason snaps taken by starters, the net result would be more
opportunities for wear, tear, bruising, and breakage for the key players
on each team.

Over a period of multiple years, the extra exposure would shorten
careers.  And given the importance of the quarterback position, the
increased risk of injury gives us considerable pause, given that there
currently aren’t 32 quality quarterbacks to go around, much less 64 of
them.

Second, the owners apparently believe that increasing the regular season
by more than 10 percent will provide a silver-bullet solution for the ongoing
labor morass.  If the extra two games will trigger linear growth in gate
and television revenue, the pie will grow — and the players could take
a smaller piece of the bigger pie and still end up ahead of the game.

But the players simply won’t want to be where they are in a 16-game
season; they’ll want more.  And they’ll want other stuff, like a reduced
offseason schedule, improved health care benefits, expanded rosters,
and other considerations and concessions.  In the end, adding two games
could simply make a complex labor negotiation even more complicated.

Third, adding games would potentially result in more meaningless games
late in the season.  With no good solution on the horizon to the problem
of playoff teams treating the latter weeks of the regular season
like a preseason for the postseason, more games would mean that dominant teams
could clinch home-field advantage even earlier, resulting in more
frustrating moments for the league office (and the rest of us) in
December and January.

Fourth, an expanded regular season surely would result in more neutral-site
games.  But with an 18-game season, some teams would have nine home
games and those “hosting” international games would have only eight.  In
this regard, 17 games provides the best compromise; every team would
have eight home games, eight road games, and one neutral-site game. 
That’s a total of 16 total neutral-site games, which could be played in England and
Mexico and Canada and in domestic locations where pro football isn’t
usually played.

With a move to 17 games, the preseason would in theory shrink to three
games.  But we think that a drop to two preseason games even with only 17 regular-season games would score
major points with the players and the fans.  While the total length of
the season, preseason and regular season, would then fall to 19 games, the less-is-more approach could
yield significant long-term dividends.

We’d also support a return of two bye weeks, a concept that was used on a
limited basis in the early 1990s.  This would result in 19 weekends of
regular-season football, with 19 Sunday night games, 19 Monday night
games, and various other revenue-generating prime-time contests.  For fans who like to
watch NFL action on their 3D/HD televisions, 19 weekends of regular-season football and
eight home games per team would equate to 11 weekends per season during
which season-ticket holders would still be able to hunker down in their
man caves.

Finally, we like the idea of 17 regular-season games because we prefer an uneven number of games.  The 8-8 record is the equivalent of a full-season tie.  Teams need to have a winning season or a losing season.  So out with the 8-8s and 9-9s and let’s have 9-8 or 8-9 as a way of knowing whether, over the course of a full season, the team was a winner or a loser.

As we recently noted in the first-ever PFT mailbag, we had believed for
months that the NFL was pushing for 18 games with an actual goal of
increasing to 17.  For now, it appears that 18 is the target.  In the
end, however, the best move could be to move to the middle ground of 17.
 

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110 Responses to “A case for 17 games, not 18”
  1. luxm says: Aug 27, 2010 1:43 AM

    That, honestly … Sounds Genius. I sure would love it. And everyone would benefit it seems.

  2. dyhoerium says: Aug 27, 2010 1:44 AM

    Shit. I agree with something Florio wrote.

  3. awr2h says: Aug 27, 2010 1:56 AM

    Its all well and good until a team complains that they got 9 road games and only 8 home games.
    There is a reason all sport seasons have even number of games. Unless you find a way to have neutral week for every team (like playing in Europe or Mexico) it just doesn’t work.

  4. stiller43 says: Aug 27, 2010 1:59 AM

    I clicked on this to see what a fool you made of yourself…
    Actually seems to make great sense.

  5. Deadeye says: Aug 27, 2010 2:00 AM

    The current scheduling formula is as close to perfect as the NFL will ever get, and I don’t want it screwed up by expansion or a different number of games in the regular season.
    The big draw back to this idea is “who gets to play the extra home game?”. A team going 10-7 will miss the playoffs having played 8 home games, while another will go 11-6 having played 9 home games. That crap won’t work.
    Oh wait, maybe every single team could play an extra game in London to even that bullshit. Kind of a two birds with one stone arrangement, 17 could work after all.

  6. JoeJags says: Aug 27, 2010 2:02 AM

    Ditto……

  7. theSTP says: Aug 27, 2010 2:08 AM

    word.

  8. yahoo.com says: Aug 27, 2010 2:12 AM

    I agree and furthermore, feel like the extra game should feature non-conference regional “rivalries” played on nuetral sites. For example, Panthers vs. Titans at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Houston vs. Dallas in Austin, or San Fran and San Deigo at the LA Colessium. Games in these traditional and huge college staduims would generate huge revenue for the NFL and the teams involved. Also the NFL could feature one per week since it would most likely be nationally televised.

  9. Scheer1852 says: Aug 27, 2010 2:15 AM

    Can’t sleep, Florio?

  10. jebdamone says: Aug 27, 2010 2:20 AM

    other then the disparity in home games this seems like a reasonable solution. can’t say i really want more then 16 but i think that 18 is stupid. offseason activities definitely need to be shortened and preseason as well.

  11. PossibleCabbage says: Aug 27, 2010 2:20 AM

    But 17 is odd… and also prime!

  12. S.T. Morse says: Aug 27, 2010 2:20 AM

    Genius.
    Best. Post. Ever.

  13. HennetoMarshallO'my! says: Aug 27, 2010 2:22 AM

    Florio…. I commend you on this article.. I doubt a good amount of c**p that you write, but a 17 gm season makes perfect sense, as well as the 2 bye weeks.. 2 thumbs up

  14. DeVoodoo says: Aug 27, 2010 2:27 AM

    Finally you don’t sound like a complete anus. Great job, Mike!

  15. Larry David says: Aug 27, 2010 2:28 AM

    I wrote this before. 17 games is the most logical solution. 4 preseason games is too much, but 2 is not enough. 3 is perfect and then you have your 20 game schedule.

  16. NoQuarter says: Aug 27, 2010 2:31 AM

    I had the same idea. And if it makes you feel better, it’s clear that your critics don’t even read your work, because two commenters complained about the possibility of some teams having more home games than others, when you clearly said in the article that every team would have one neutral site game.

  17. LewD says: Aug 27, 2010 2:35 AM

    I wish they’d play all year …
    I don’t watch anything else ….

  18. RexR#1 says: Aug 27, 2010 2:45 AM

    Don’t mess with success – leave the regular season at 16. Just how much more money do the NFL owners need to make? If you want to change something for the better just drop the number of pre-season games to 2 including for the teams who play in the Hall of Fame game that could be played one day before the first pre-season games of the other 30 teams are played.

  19. rovibe says: Aug 27, 2010 2:47 AM

    I have to say, I like the idea of no .500 teams. Pitch this to Goodell so we can all hear his lame argument against it.

  20. PiKindaGuy says: Aug 27, 2010 2:54 AM

    Judging from the comments..at least two people so far didn’t actually read the article.

  21. Zinn says: Aug 27, 2010 3:01 AM

    I do like your idea of two bye weeks. My concern with a 17, 18 week schedule is the abuse of the athletes bodies. can they really hold with that kind of physical intensity.
    2 pre-season games will not cut it. I think they can get by with 3 whether they use 17 or 18 games. The problem is with the extra bye week, and 3 pre-season it extends the season 1-2 weeks.

  22. bad asset says: Aug 27, 2010 3:10 AM

    I don’t see what would be wrong with a 48 game season. Once a team was knocked out of the running to compete for a playoff bid, they would move to a lower tier of competition (with the other losers) in which the team with the highest winning margin would be rewarded with the highest draft pick. That would be interesting. Of course each team would need three times as many players as they have now…but that’s their problem.

  23. tommyjcaps says: Aug 27, 2010 3:15 AM

    so…you’ll leave a ridiculously long rant against cowlishaw on the front page fully
    yet…
    a very good post about actual football…you will make us click to continue reading…??
    what gives?
    people like this site for the great football posts such as this…not for the BS drama about other sportswriters…

  24. Route36West says: Aug 27, 2010 3:22 AM

    “Thus, nothing we have to say will really make much of a difference”
    Umm nothing you say ever makes a difference so why do you even bother to state your opinion.
    “But we think that a drop to two preseason games even with only 17 regular-season games would score major points with the players and the fans. ”
    Why would any fan want to go from 20 games to 19 a year. That makes no sense. I watch every preseason game and in enjoy them I even watch other teams play preseason games even if they are the worst teams in the league. I would like 18 or even 17 regular season games but changing the total from 20 to 19 makes no sense to me or for the owners. They still charge for preseason games so they would be losing money that way.
    Owners like Tisch Johnson Jones Lurie etc. wont want there beautiful brand new staduims sitting unfilled. Doing a neutral site game would do that one extra time a year and doing that plus removing a preseason game would do it twice. The owners would never let that fly.

  25. bofarr says: Aug 27, 2010 3:33 AM

    I love the neutral site game but would take it a step farther and try to create some annual inter-conference regional rivalry games to throw in the mix; have the Jets play the Giants every year and split Meadowlands 2.0 down the middle (maybe with Stadium naming rights at stake), the Cowboys vs. the Texans in a major Mexican city, Raiders vs San Francisco @ Stanford’s new stadium (or the new stadium they should go in on together in Santa Clara), The Bucs vs. the Fins in Orlando, The Chiefs vs. Rams, etc . For teams without natural regional rivals you could alternate them into neutral sites around the country and world using the extra bye week to allow recovery from the extra travel.

  26. Crowder911 says: Aug 27, 2010 3:41 AM

    I would prefer to see more playoff games instead of a longer regular season (meaningless games)
    i think the NFL should copy the NHL playoff model – first vs last po team etc etc as in the future the bye week wasnt really an advantage for the top ranked teams

  27. kombayn says: Aug 27, 2010 3:51 AM

    Why not auction the 17th game to other countries and make it the “International Series” where all 32 teams play one time in say London and that makes for their 17th game. You can sell that for a billion dollars for one season where a place like London or Toronto get 16 NFL season games featuring each NFL team. You can just randomize the match-ups for each team every season. I think that would be a great idea. I say give the 17th game to London for 5 NFL seasons and that way the fans can see every team play each week. Imagine a Patriots vs. Saints game followed the next week by Cowboys vs Colts in London?! So many possibilities.

  28. LiLsWISHA says: Aug 27, 2010 3:59 AM

    Perfect… Get it done Florio.

  29. bobbybeck says: Aug 27, 2010 4:04 AM

    The only thing I’m a little concerned about is that it’s going to skew stats a bit. There will have to be asterisks next to record breaking stats that happened historically and stats that happened in the current system. I mean, in the grand scheme of it who the hell cares, but it’ll be the tiniest bit lame for comparing seasons. Though, the same holds true for baseball from the 1900s and we’ve all survived, so we’ll just have to deal with it.

  30. huthutHUT says: Aug 27, 2010 4:08 AM

    One of the by-products of expansion of the schedule will be the expansion of the rosters. Teams simply won’t be able to field the same quality product with two extra games that matter. So you’ll see a push to expand the roster, spreading out all the wear and tear – and let’s be honest, the damage done to their bodies – over more players.
    If the rosters are expanded to 62, that’s another 10 men sharing the load. That way the NFL can keep its high level of intensity without jeopardizing the health of its employees any more than it does at present. I imagine that the NFLPA would be receptive to the idea.
    And this wouldn’t cost the owners a nickel. After all, if 59.6% of revenue (or whatever the number ends up being) is shared with the players it doesn’t really matter if you are spreading it over 1600 men or 2000 men or whatever.
    So I’m all for expanding the number of “real” games, whether its 17 or 18, so long as the number of players goes up too.

  31. wintermoonrising says: Aug 27, 2010 4:14 AM

    No one will get more home or away games than others. Read the ENTIRE article before popping off! Sure Florio is a liberal schmuck, but he actually did right by this one. Hell must be frozen!

  32. BerlinRaider says: Aug 27, 2010 4:14 AM

    That idea actually isn’t exactly new, Peter King was lobbying for this solution months ago. But better steal a good idea than come up with a new but dumb one – 17 should be the way to go, I agree. Put two or three games a season into Europe (can anybody explain to me why in the end 4 out 6 teams in the NFL Europe were based in Germany, with the stadiums in Dusseldorf and Frankfurt always packed and the London Monarchs even faltering prematurely and still Germany never gets a sniff for a NFL game? Just wondering…) and the others into Canada, Mexico, Los Angeles… There surely will never be a shortage of locations lobbying for one of the neutral site games.
    And it would actually surprise me if this solution were not a fallback option for the league anyway in the negotiations with the union to fall back to if the union demands too much for 2 more real games.

  33. Slow Joe says: Aug 27, 2010 4:22 AM

    Great idea, Mike. But let me add two things:
    1. Increasing the regular season by one game while simultaneously reducing the preseason by two games AND having one game in a “neutral site” means each owner only gets revenue from nine home games each years (eight regular season, one preseason). That’s a huge loss of revenue, which the owner will never vote for–UNLESS the added TV revenue from the additional weeks of regular season TV broadcasts make up for it.
    2. If they do add a seventeenth game, they need to make it a “rivalry game”. Two teams that play each other every year. It’s the one thing college football has that the pros really don’t. Just a few examples:
    Giants-Jets
    Eagles-Steelers
    Redskins-Ravens
    Bucs-Dolphins
    Falcons-Jags
    Rams-Chiefs
    49ers-Raiders
    Cowboys-Texans
    Panthers-Titans
    Chargers-Cardinals
    Bears-Colts
    Those are the easier ones to pair up, but other rivalries can be built just by the teams playing every year. Geographical proximity helps, but is not necessary. If the Seahawks and Broncos play every year, their old AFC rivalry will be rebuilt. ANY two teams that play every year will eventually hate each other, and become rivals.
    Get it done, Goodell.

  34. eaglealan64 says: Aug 27, 2010 4:26 AM

    Love the plan but it’s not going to happen as every team would lose a home game – at the moment they get 2 pre-season and 8 regular season for a total of 10, in your plan they only get 9; no way owners vote for that.

  35. lawless says: Aug 27, 2010 4:37 AM

    I’ve been saying for years about schedule expansion:
    17 game season with two bye weeks. The “17th” game should always be inter-conference (AFC vs NFC). This way, the game do means little in tie breaking scenarios. All games are played in a non NFL city. Teams split the gate 50-50. Cost of putting on the game in the non NFL city is covered by the league.

  36. bbq says: Aug 27, 2010 4:42 AM

    16 game schedule is perfect. Ridiculous to add to it in the violent NFL.
    But, then again, Goodell is in favor of passing a rule that eliminates the 3-point stance. Yeah, you read that right.

  37. dEV says: Aug 27, 2010 4:47 AM

    I’m a proponent of the 17-game season for all the reasons you mentioned. I actually also agree with the two bye-week formula.
    The only issue that I disagree with is the two-game preseason/19 total games deal. I don’t see owners going for this, purely from the asses-in-seats perspective. The preseason is an opportunity to charge full-price for a ticket, even when it’s a sub-standard product. I just don’t see the owners going for less than 20 total games for this reason.
    (I should note that, as a fan, the less preseason the better… but I don’t think the people who profit from asses-in-seats see things the same way.)

  38. pfft says: Aug 27, 2010 5:21 AM

    I hate two bye weeks. Hate when My team is off for one week. I don’t mind watching other teams play but I look forward to seeing my team every weekend.
    On top of that the teams with only 8 home game would get two home preseaon game and one away (if tere are 3 preseason games). This is what is making season ticket holders complain. They don’t want to pay full price for meaningless games.

  39. Aether says: Aug 27, 2010 5:37 AM

    The clue was in the article, guys.
    “In this regard, 17 games provides the best compromise; every team would have eight home games, eight road games, and one neutral-site game. That’s a total of 16 total neutral-site games, which could be played in England and Mexico and Canada and in domestic locations where pro football isn’t usually played.”
    I think the bigger problem is who is the 17th game played against. There is a definite formula each season for which teams play which, and there doesn’t seem to be a natural way of extending that to 17 games.
    Other than that, I’m all for a 17-game season (I was just telling a friend that the other day), it definitely seems to make most sense.
    The other suggestion of having 2 preseason games instead of 3 would reduce the ability of teams to scout those low-draft picks and undrafted free agents in games against other teams.

  40. mkdave says: Aug 27, 2010 5:51 AM

    I’ve been saying 17 games is the way to go for a while and to this point the only drawback I can see with it is that the owners might not go for it. Losing 2 preseason games and replacing it with only one regular season game means you lose a whole game of ticket fees. That said the international game could feasibly make up the difference with the surge in purchase of merchandise and increased ticket prices.

  41. luckyram says: Aug 27, 2010 6:13 AM

    @ Deadeye:
    You got it at the end……The NFL will be doing this will the intention of “going global” to further widen the audience…..Not that they particularly care about having global acceptance of the game, just lining their pockets with more moolah.
    And it won’t just be London…..different teams in a season going to Mexico, Japan, China, probably even the tiny island of Nauru if there’s something in in for the money men – “If they can make money from it, they will go”

  42. mike_311 says: Aug 27, 2010 6:18 AM

    you could make the 17th game some sort of regional a matchup at a neutral site. Giants/Jets, Eagles Steelers, Dallas/Houston, Rams/Chiefs.
    and play a bunch of them in another country., plus adding a second bye. this could work.
    I think the season is perfect how it is though, i dont want to see a lesser quality sport due to injury becuase they think they aren’t making enough money, when in fact compared to 99% of society, they are making a killing.

  43. thepretender1984 says: Aug 27, 2010 6:19 AM

    I’ve been saying this for months… but never thought it out enough to realize there was a disparity between home and road games. The London idea is interesting, though… but it wouldn’t just have to be London. The NFL could make every team play a game at a neutral site. That would allow the NFL to expand beyond just the hometown. you could start out on a national level and then start playing games in japan, germany, etc.

  44. faulkn22 says: Aug 27, 2010 6:30 AM

    LMAO, stick with me here. I say 19.
    Joking. I agree, Florio. Jesus, that sounds weird to say.

  45. dedhed says: Aug 27, 2010 6:34 AM

    i agree with most of what you said….. i am not a fan of 16 domestic neutral site games…. this gives cities that dont have football the reason to poach well established franchises to move. please remember how the baltimore browns were stolen from cleveland by a greedy owner and a rabid fan base

  46. Real Football Fan says: Aug 27, 2010 6:46 AM

    I’ve suggested that same idea of playing an uneven schedule with the extra games being played in hungry football markets like L.A., Columbus, Omaha, San Antonio, as well as the international sites, so obviously I’m in agreement. It would be an event for markets that don’t have professional football year round…win, win for the league and players because the pre-season would be reduced.

  47. gdionne says: Aug 27, 2010 6:50 AM

    Go to NFL.com and vote!!!!!

  48. agenice says: Aug 27, 2010 6:56 AM

    Season ticket holders would only “have” to buy tickets. Fir 9 games each year. Instead of 10. A permanent drop of a full game of ticket revenue will never fly with the owners.
    It was a nice try though. And you tried so hard.
    (pats Florio on the head)
    Now run align and make fun of another sports writer for reporting something and getting it wrong.

  49. BP says: Aug 27, 2010 6:59 AM

    One: Oh well. If they don’t like a shortened career in pro football they could always be a Walmart greeter.
    Two: The whole gist of this is the players get too much of the pie. They are employees, not partners, despite their desire to be such. The owners have positioned themselves to reassert that condition, just as the players positioned themselves to methodically become partners in previous years.
    Three: There will always be close races around the league right to the wire. Last year a plethora of teams were in the mix for the playoffs even in the last week.
    Four: Better yet, just stop beating around the bush and play 20 games.
    Finally: There is nothing wrong with finishing .500. If we can stomach the absurd NFL tie-breaker system for playoff berths we can easily live with a 10-10 season. The pre-season is pointless for the NFL. A couple simulated games incorporated in training camp (as the Pats and Saints did this year) can accomplish just about all that four preseason games have. These days the teams know who they will keep based on the training camp performances. The days of needing to look at rookies for 4 games are long gone. Neither do vets need that kind of prep anymore. The pre-season is now an anachronism. Play 20 games and be done with it. If they go to 18 you know in 10 years they will want 20.

  50. shaunypoo says: Aug 27, 2010 6:59 AM

    I know I am in the minority, but I personally think that the current system is as close to perfect as you are going to get. 32 teams, 4 teams in each division, 16 games with perfect scheduling equations. Playoff determination is relatively easy but still leaves room for the talking heads to discuss scenarios. I feel sorry for the number cruncher in the back office who has to figure out the new schedule whether it is 17 or 18 games. I just think it in numerically perfect and see no reason to change it.

  51. zoinks says: Aug 27, 2010 7:01 AM

    I’ve wondered all along whether this was the NFL’s ulterior motive…..create the illusion that they’re pushing for an 18-game season, but eventually “compromising” by adding one so-called international game to each team’s schedule.
    Hell, I hope they do it. Let ‘em have one international game on the schedule every week. Within a couple years, the novelty will wear off, ticket sales will plummet, and the league will be forced to acknowledge what everyone else has known all along: international audiences don’t WANT American football.
    By my estimation, the support for NFL football in non-US markets will be comparable to the market for professional soccer in American markets. Sure, you’ll have a few diehards that will support it….but it won’t be long before games are being played in half-empty stadiums week after week.
    The real kicker will be the international games at the tail end of the season, when good teams are resting starters and bad teams are just playing out the string. Two lackadaisical teams going through the motions for a bunch of disinterested and ill-informed fans in a half-empty stadium.
    If you think Jacksonville was failed experiment in NFL marketing, just wait’ll you see the train wreck that awaits NFL International.

  52. steelerfan9598 says: Aug 27, 2010 7:02 AM

    Mikey, congrats. Smartest thing you’ve said in a while. Although I don’t love the idea of 2 bye weeks. Cutting to 2 preseason games would be great (they are still full price).

  53. brasho says: Aug 27, 2010 7:05 AM

    Good job on slamming the 18 game season, Florio. You basically reposted every point I’ve made at earlier points on here. I still don’t want the number of regular season games to be touched and I don’t care if there are 8-8 teams.
    As for cutting the preseason back to 3 or 2 games, many players wouldn’t want it cut. Players trying to make rosters:
    http://www.tampabay.com/sports/football/bucs/tampa-bay-buccaneers-news-and-notes/1117778

  54. habibfromnewdehli says: Aug 27, 2010 7:10 AM

    Only Donavan McNabb’s team is forced to go 9-8 or 8-9. Any other team is still perfectly capable of having a “seaosn-long tie” by going 8-8-1, 7-7-3, etc., etc.

  55. SDW2001 says: Aug 27, 2010 7:11 AM

    “…hunker down in their man caves”
    Love it. Count me in.

  56. 8man says: Aug 27, 2010 7:11 AM

    I’ve been a big proponent of two bye weeks and extending the season that way for a long time. And the rotating extra home game idea isn’t a bad one at all.
    This is a pretty good plan. And it works because even if we can’t see our favorite team play on a given weekend, we will watch whoever is on. Because we are fans of the NFL.
    That being said, I’ll back virtually anything that makes the regular season longer in weeks, not necessarily in game teams play, eliminates some pre-season games AND plays the Super Bowl on President’s Day weekend. How nice would that be to have a national holiday after it?

  57. salmen76 says: Aug 27, 2010 7:22 AM

    Just because you play an uneven amount of games that won’t gaurantee no ties. Cuz if a team loses 8 and wins 8 and ties one they will be 8-8-1. I don’t know where yall learned math, but that’s still a tie dawgs. Leave the damn season alone. Leave overtime alone. Goodell is ruining the league. He has a God complex. But, the Saints are still World Champions, the Vikings still suk, and the Saints are gonna win the SB again this year. So get used to it. Ha! Ha! Geaux Saints!

  58. Ralph Gre Nader says: Aug 27, 2010 7:37 AM

    I have been posting this in the comments ever since the 18 game schedule was brought up. Where’s my credit? You piss and moan about other news sources not giving you credit and they you write this article as if this epiphany came to you overnight. every time the question of an 18 game schedule gets brought up my answer is 17 games with two byes. This whole idea of 18 games was never about getting rid of two preseason games it was about giving fans two more weeks of “watchable” football. And if there’s more watchable football then there’s more big money commercials and that means everybody wins.
    So of you have to go back through your archives and look at your articles about 18 game schedules. and when you peek at the comments you’ll see I’ve been saying this for a long time. Now do the right thing and give someone credit for your supposed “idea” or you’re no better than the people you trash for using all of your leg work for their own benefit

  59. jonG80 says: Aug 27, 2010 7:49 AM

    Actually there would be a pretty simple way to pick the 17 th game under the current 16 game equation. Have each division from the NFC match up against a second division from the AFC, but instead of playing against the whole division you play the team that finished in the same position. So this season the NFC north plays the AFC east. So the north then gets matched up with the AFC north, west or south and the division winners play each other, second place plays each other and so on.

  60. igor79 says: Aug 27, 2010 7:54 AM

    I love the idea of having a 17 game season. I have been talking about it for months.
    You would have 8 home and 8 away and one neutral game. The scheduling of the neutral game could be tricky but you could do a lot of things like instate rivalry games like having the Eagles and the Steelers play at Penn State or the Jets and Giants playing each other in the Meadowlands but with tickets available on a first come first serve basis.
    You could play more games in Canada and London… Do games in Mexico possibly send some West Coast teams to Japan. You could do a Super Bowl rematch each year. Play some games in LA and other markets that don’t have pro clubs.
    There would be insane amount of logistics to work out but it could be a really cool thing.

  61. TheDPR says: Aug 27, 2010 7:58 AM

    I’ve been for 17 all along. Welcome to the bandwagon, Florio.

  62. Larry says: Aug 27, 2010 8:06 AM

    You make a very compelling argument for 17 games. However, if you think the owners would give up a game….I don’t think so. An extra couple of prime time games won’t make up for 16 missed regular or even preseason games…
    On the other hand, perhaps this IS what the owners want (17 games) and they will ‘negotiate’ down to from the 18 they are broadcasting…

  63. b-rad says: Aug 27, 2010 8:11 AM

    AGREED
    One extra game at a neutral site and two bye weeks is a great idea. It will give us two more weeks of football and make more money for everyone.
    The owners probably asked for 2 extra games thinking they can negotiate down to 1 extra one.
    LA can get one team now (Jaguars or Raiders) and have neutral site games played there the away weeks to help pay for the cost of a new stadium.

  64. Complete Fan says: Aug 27, 2010 8:24 AM

    Let’s introduce Interleague play with the CFL for the 17th game.
    Every four years, each NFL team for their 17th game would go to Canada for a game which would count in the standings for both teams.
    Sample schedule:
    Year 1
    Bills-Argos, Patriots-Alouettes, Jets-Tiger Cats, Dolphins-Blue Bombers, Seahawks-Lions, 49ers-Eskimos, Rams-Roughriders, Cardinals-Stampeders
    Year 2
    Cowboys-Argos, Redskins-Alouettes, Eagles-Tiger Cats, Giants-Bombers, Broncos-Eskimos, Raiders-Lions, Chargers-Stampeders, Chiefs-Roughriders
    And so on. All games CFL rules.

  65. griblets says: Aug 27, 2010 8:39 AM

    BerlinRaider says: August 27, 2010 4:14 AM
    That idea actually isn’t exactly new, Peter King was lobbying for this solution months ago.
    ————————————————–
    Florio has been pimping this idea for about a year. Peter King was likely trying to expose the idea and get some momentum behind it.
    Do you think they had the same debate when the league expanded from 12 to 14? Or when it expanded from 14 to 16? The league has always expanded, and probably always will. I just hope they don’t go too far to make the regular season meaningless like it is in MLB, NBA, & NHL. I can’t remember the last time I watched a regular season game in any of those leagues.

  66. Danwhitmer says: Aug 27, 2010 8:41 AM

    I logged onto PFT today and seen this topic, Clicked on it to see all the butchering comments. When i seen the length of the article i did not even bother to read so i went straight to the comments section to see Florio crucified lol Much to my suprise he was being praised. Figured i had to read the post then!
    Good job Florio. I had been thinking 17 would be good for basically the same reasons you have up there. I like the 2 bye week idea and this will give the NFL an opportunity to expand EVERY team into other contry’s and even states that do not have Pro football teams. I think this is a brilliant solution to what is turning into a tug of war….

  67. EverybodyGotAIDS says: Aug 27, 2010 8:54 AM

    I’ve been pitching this for a year. Play a neutral site game once a year (internationally), sandwiched between two bye weeks. It’s win-win.

  68. Strick says: Aug 27, 2010 9:09 AM

    Excellent post, Florio.
    But awr2h nailed it:
    awr2h says: August 27, 2010 1:56 AM
    “Its all well and good until a team complains that they got 9 road games and only 8 home games”
    If that team is the Colts of the Patriots… god forbid.

  69. cause you are the same says: Aug 27, 2010 9:20 AM

    Very good article. Can we vote for this?

  70. FloriosHairHat says: Aug 27, 2010 9:21 AM

    Is there such a thing as a “neutral site” for Steelers games?

  71. Get A Job says: Aug 27, 2010 9:35 AM

    my only concern that some teams will have 9 home games and 8 away games versus teams that have 8 home games and 9 away games. gets sticky with team revenue, season ticket sales, etc… home field advantage imbalance is also worth mentioning.
    overall, i like the idea. no one likes ties.

  72. Really? says: Aug 27, 2010 9:38 AM

    Beyond dumb. In a league where home field advantage is huge, you’re going to make half the league have a major disadvanteg by playing an extra road game. Dumb. Next idea.

  73. Gautam says: Aug 27, 2010 9:42 AM

    what happens if a teams wins 8 games, loses 8 games & ties 1 ? will you change the rules then Florio ?

  74. psmylie says: Aug 27, 2010 9:46 AM

    Great stuff Florio, just one correction. With a 19 week regular season, the NFL would not allow 19 MNF games. Remember, the last week in the NFL season ends on Sunday night as there is no MNF game to end the season.

  75. Captain Jack says: Aug 27, 2010 9:47 AM

    Rosters don’t need to be expanded. There are already 53 players, but only 45 can be active on game day. Let all players be active (since the owners are paying them anyway) and you get 8 extra players for game day. Plus, you have 8 players on a practice squad that you should be able to move some of them up and activate for game day as well.

  76. roboninja says: Aug 27, 2010 9:50 AM

    # awr2h says: “Its all well and good until a team complains that they got 9 road games and only 8 home games.
    There is a reason all sport seasons have even number of games. Unless you find a way to have neutral week for every team (like playing in Europe or Mexico) it just doesn’t work.”
    Dude, that is the whole point of the 17 game schedule. Every team gets one neutral site game. This game cannot really be considered a road or home game; it is at a neutral site. Luckily, an NFL game can truly be at a neutral site, as there is no inherent home-field advantage, as seen in baseball and hockey.
    17 games sounds so good, there’s no way it happens. They’ll screw it up with an 18-game sched.

  77. Chapnasty. says: Aug 27, 2010 9:51 AM

    WAIT!!!! Why do the players care about health care? I thought Obama made it so everyone gets it anyways? It shouldn’t be a part of the new CBA.

  78. danj0306 says: Aug 27, 2010 9:52 AM

    This might be the best idea you have ever come up with. OK.. 2nd best.. I am counting PFT as 1, but this is for sure the 2nd best!!

  79. jfuz says: Aug 27, 2010 9:53 AM

    stunningly sensible, especially for Florio.

  80. Vikings2010 says: Aug 27, 2010 10:02 AM

    I like it. Give the neutral sites a game without losing a home game. As for the preseason, teams could have 1 home game this year, 2 home games next, etc.

  81. BigBear123 says: Aug 27, 2010 10:05 AM

    luxm says:
    August 27, 2010 1:43 AM
    That, honestly … Sounds Genius. I sure would love it. And everyone would benefit it seems.

  82. BigBear123 says: Aug 27, 2010 10:09 AM

    Would also be a good way to test new markets. Can play 6 games in LA and even give Toronto a better team than the Bills to watch.
    Not the same have a revolving door of teams play in your city, but get some good matchups and tickets will sell.

  83. damnvarmint says: Aug 27, 2010 10:14 AM

    An expanded season means waterd down games and watered down talent. If you think there is a problem with “off field issues” now, wait until the pool of players is so diluted that teams have to seriously consider signing Maurice Clarrett or Michael Vic…….nevermind.

  84. Sophocles says: Aug 27, 2010 10:15 AM

    I had always thought that the 18 game proposal was just a negotiation ploy to implement the 17 game season. The 17th game played as a regional interconference rivalry game for those who have such rivalries: NYG/NYJ, Redskins/Ravens, Chiefs/Rams and SF/Oakland. The others can have it done by formula rotation.
    Fiorio’s plan differs from that espoused by the NFL: two preseason games instead of three. This would be a financial mistake.
    Considering that attendance at the preseason games is currently a mockery, going to a home-away-neutral format for the three preseason games could mitigate losses, e.g. fans in neutral Portland or San Antonio or Omaha might actually fill the stadiums and hang around for 4 quarters, consuming concessions and buying NFL licensed products. The revenue loss from playing the third game at a neutral site would be small compared to the huge revenues from the extended season and overseas games.

  85. FinFan68 says: Aug 27, 2010 10:24 AM

    I love the season the way it is. The scheduling works out as fairly as possible and the numbers work out perfect (div/conf/non-conf games). The teams use the pre-season to evaluate talent and adjust their rosters.
    That being said, i would prefer a 17/3 season over 18/2. I don’t buy the injury argument (how many players are severely injured in playoff games? it should be at a higher rate than the reg season due to higher intensity and extended wear/tear but in reality it is not)
    I CAN’T STAND THE FOREIGN GAMES but if each team were forced to do it then it would be fair. Might as well build a superstadium in Las Vegas and play all super bowls there while they are at it.

  86. Jon says: Aug 27, 2010 10:50 AM

    [/b]Personally, I like staying at 16, but you make a better argument for 17 than the league can for 18.

  87. BernieMac says: Aug 27, 2010 10:54 AM

    first…Hopefully you continue to use the source of this idea for more of topics
    second…. I dont care that much for preseason myself but lets be honest here. Not every one can come out and have years like peterson, flaco, ryan, johnson,etc. That being said I believe that the preason is very important for the devolpment of young players and those that dont get the chance to play as much.
    Third…. do you really think that if you offer these guys the same money to play a few more games than they are now that they willl choose to sit at home. well maybe the first year but not after that.
    In short the ones that play the most make the most and injuries can happen at any time and they dont get paid to worry about getting hurt they get paid to play football. So they can go try out for the NBA or MLB that play even more games than they do and see if they like it….. if they can make it. Preseason should not change and the season should be longer. For players like farve, 85 and TO who claim to play only because the enjoy the game and not for the money the should be in support of more chances to do what they like to do best. PLAY FOOTBALL

  88. SoFlor Steeler says: Aug 27, 2010 10:55 AM

    What is fascinating is reading through the comments and counting the number of people who did not get your neutral site idea….
    No wonder this country is in trouble – these people actually are allowed to vote!!!!
    8 home – 8 road – 1 neutral site is what we are talking about folks…
    That is NOT the same as 8 home and 9 road….
    And I do think it has the best chance of delivering the incremental revenue that the league is looking for – let London – Tokyo – Mexico City – Rio – Bejing all bid for the rights – could be awesome….

  89. Eustus says: Aug 27, 2010 10:58 AM

    It’s an interesting proposition. But it’s not perfect.
    Even with neutral site games, one team is the home team and the other is not (although arguably, being at a neutral site should dramatically diminish the home field advantage).
    More importantly, but cutting from 4 preseason games to 3, you end up with half of the teams in the league with 2 home preseason games and half the teams in the league with only 1. Not a huge deal, if you’re not an owner counting on the season ticket base to pay full freight for preseason games. If the owners go for a 17 game schedule, they’ll want to keep 4 preseason games – which means they would have to come up with a way to increase compensation for the players for the season expanding from 20 to 21 games.
    18 games works for the owners (especially in cities where the entire stadium isn’t sold out as season tickets). They can throw away the two preseason games and exchange them for regular season games (and sell more tickets and justify a higher price for local TV and radio rights).
    So, even though 17 games makes more sense, from a competitive standpoint – it doesn’t make more sense for the owners pocket books. And for that reason alone, I just don’t see it happening.

  90. BostonISaChraphole says: Aug 27, 2010 11:09 AM

    This may be the only thing you have ever wrote that is any good. You should frame it and hang it in your office.

  91. bub4lyfe says: Aug 27, 2010 11:37 AM

    This is the best article I’ve read on this site in the past three years. I have hated the idea of expanding the regular season until reading this article, because I think your plan covers many of the problems a lot of people have with expanding the regular season (or at least compromises on them), with the added bonus of making every team a winner or a loser (ties are for soccer).

  92. NJ28 says: Aug 27, 2010 11:43 AM

    I am sure this has been mentioned but I am too lazy to read every post. That 17th game would fall right into Goodel’s master plan to have regular season games played out of the country. This would assure no one was losing a home game if each team played a game in England, Canada, Mexico or where ever.

  93. Jack Coyote says: Aug 27, 2010 11:47 AM

    The regular season is already meaningless at 16 games, not to mention diluted by all the injuries. Expanding to 17 or 18 games pushes the regular season closer to irrelevance. Not to mention the added health risks to athletes. If expansion is basically a done deal, then the bulk of the additional revenue should go into a trust fund for the retired athletes pensions and to cover their medical costs and other related health issues. After all, the owners and the NFLPA aren’t the ones putting their health and their lives on the line.

  94. DJSlyBri says: Aug 27, 2010 11:52 AM

    17 games plus two bye weeks would give the league 19 weeks of football on TV. I would be good with that.
    The neutral site game is the way to go, whether in America or elsewhere, and the 2 bye weeks would allow players more time to heal in-season and would allow teams that have to travel to, say Germany or Japan, for a game to still have a normal bye week at home.

  95. Neoplatonist Bolthead says: Aug 27, 2010 12:11 PM

    I think an extra cross-conference game is a great idea.
    1) It helps make Strength of Schedule really matter if you’re facing an equally-placed cross-conference team.
    2) You know for sure that teams can alternate home/away year after year, because conferences don’t change much.

  96. Danwhitmer says: Aug 27, 2010 12:27 PM

    PEOPLE READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE, THE EXTRA GAME WOULD BE A “NEUTRAL SITE GAME” NO TEAM WOULD HAVE 8 HOME AND 9 AWAY, OR 9 HOME AND 8 AWAY. THEY WOULD HAVE 8 HOME 8 AWAY AND 1 NEUTRAL SITE GAME.

  97. kirddes says: Aug 27, 2010 12:32 PM

    this whole article is Florio’s wet dream, as well as most of the comments. The new schedule will be 18 games, because the NFL does what it wants AND YOU WILL LIKE IT ! That’s why they are not totally afraid of a work stoppage – because you will all be there when they return.

  98. Fogs77 says: Aug 27, 2010 12:56 PM

    There aren’t 32 decent Quartbacks to go around?? Say’s who? The Pat’s didn’t know what they had in Tom Brady until Drew Bledsoe got hurt. Ram’s were thinking of cutting Warner and hiring him to wash jock straps before Trent Greene got hurt….
    Bottom line – The extra reps in the tw0 games might expose players to extra injury risk…..but that is a risk they take in order to make multi-millions of dollars a year as a professional football player. Nobody has a gun to there head. They should be thankful for having the opportunity that they have.
    The salary cap has created tremendous parity in the league. These extra games, extra injuries, and possible expansion of rosters will just put more of an emphasis on teams having to be much better about evaluating their talent, having depth, and having players that can perform multiple rolls. They will have to draft better, retain talent better and maximize that talent better. The cream will rise to the crop, their will be less parity and the league will be a better place.
    I vote for 18 regular season games and wish there were more. I could watch the NFL all year long.

  99. Cephas120 says: Aug 27, 2010 1:03 PM

    I’ve liked the 17 game idea since expanding the regular season was first talked about a few years ago. My idea was that the 17th game would be for a cross-conference “rival,” so that the schedules would rotate similarly to how they rotate under the current scheduling system.
    For example, the Redskins would play the Ravens every year, rotating between Baltimore and Washington. The Giants would play the Jets. Eagles would play the Steelers, etc.
    Sadly, this will never happen because there is an uneven number of home and away games.

  100. kitchn says: Aug 27, 2010 1:05 PM

    Holy Crap Florio !!!! You actually made sense for once!!!

  101. SoFlor Steeler says: Aug 27, 2010 1:31 PM

    I do think you can make the case for adding one more wild card team from each conference as part of this – would help make the end of the season more meaningful – two more slots for 4 teams or so to chase down to the wire…

  102. sportsgenious says: Aug 27, 2010 2:55 PM

    you SOB, you stole my idea and published it. I sent you the post below weeks ago…
    OK, so what about this… it is all about money, TV ratings, advertising revenue etc, right? To compromise not having each team and players play an extra 2 games, why not extend the season (not each team’s games, just the “NFL season) by 1 week to get an extra week of TV revenue but give teams an extra bye week and just schedule accordingly. So you play 16 games over 18 weeks, the NFL gets 18 weeks on TV with less games per day instead of 17 weeks with more games per day. This way, all the records stay intact (of course this is already debatable given the 14 game schedule back in the day). To make the scedhules even, you give every team 8 road and 8 home game and then schedule each team a non NFL city game such as Mexico City, Canada, Las Vegas etc.

  103. steelers rule says: Aug 27, 2010 3:54 PM

    I been saying for YEARS, play 17 games and 1 week every teams plays at a nuetral site! Play in London, Germany, Toronto, Vancouver, Mexico, Alberquere, L.A. Sacremento, Portland, Boise, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Birmingham to name a few. Even play some in a college stadium with 90,000 fans! You could have Dallas-AZ in Alberquere, Pitt- Buffalo play in State College!

  104. rmm9090 says: Aug 29, 2010 7:33 PM

    A 17 game regular season (1 neutral game) and 3 pre-season games is the perfect season.
    The problem is, that it makes so much logical sense from too many perspectives. That of course means that the powers to be (GODell and the owners) will never go for it. Their track record for making any type of logical decision regarding the league is pretty damn poor of late…example being the new overtime rules….kinda sad really.
    I for one would love to see the end of an 8-8 season.
    Dammit, either you have a winning season or not!
    Which would include doing away with the new OT rules. Bring back the old sudden death OT rules!!!!

  105. TheSleepness says: Aug 29, 2010 9:09 PM

    i like it…seems fair..nice job on this.

  106. RedskinsRT says: Aug 30, 2010 5:50 AM

    I must say that I agree, if it’s going to happen.

  107. theravenlives2 says: Aug 30, 2010 2:03 PM

    I love the 17 game Idea, and advocated it in an earlier post. Two points to ponder.
    1. The neutral site game should never be a divisional game (Eagles/Giants) and should never be a rivalry game (Ravens/Redskins). Those should be saved for the home markets, with the rivalry game being alternated between the two cities (Baltimore in even years, D.C. in odd years).
    2. Neutral site games should never be allowed to serve as defacto ‘home” games for one team. As an example, if the Eagles play the Broncos in State College, PA, where do you think most of the fans will come from and who will they be rooting for? If its a “neutral” site game, make it truly neutral. Make the Broncos play the Falcons in State College.

  108. steelers rule says: Aug 30, 2010 4:58 PM

    For the 17th game, it MUST be a conferance game. If AFC East is scheduled to play AFC North and lets say Miami and they are to play Jacksonville and SanDiego, they would play Houston in Alabama! You could not have some teams play AFC VS AFC and some play AFC VS NFC, has this will mess up playoff tie breakers.

  109. Codebeard says: Aug 30, 2010 5:38 PM

    Required international games make me cringe at the idea. Neutral sites, okay, but as is I already think it’s a stupid idea to play regular season games in Mexico and England.
    As for this:
    Slow Joe says:
    2. If they do add a seventeenth game, they need to make it a “rivalry game”. Two teams that play each other every year. It’s the one thing college football has that the pros really don’t. Just a few examples:

    Yes, yes they do have rivalry games. They’re called divisional games. Or are you not all that interested in Cowboys v. Redskins/Eagles, Bears v. Packers/Vikings, et al. College rivalries come from history, not simply from being close to each other.

  110. theravenlives2 says: Aug 30, 2010 6:36 PM

    Yes, yes they do have rivalry games. They’re called divisional games. Or are you not all that interested in Cowboys v. Redskins/Eagles, Bears v. Packers/Vikings, et al. College rivalries come from history, not simply from being close to each other.
    ———————————————-
    So the Jets and the Giants play in the same stadium, while the Ravens/Redskins and Raider/Niners are 30 miles apart. You wanna give me a rational explanation as to why they play every four years? You can’t…it’s idiotic!

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