New Thursday night arrangement could create a problem for two teams

The new Thursday night arrangement between the NFL and CBS contains plenty of intriguing quirks and wrinkles.  For two teams, one complication could be referred to as a pain in a place where pains tend to be more painful.

In recent years, the NFL staged 16 total Thursday games after the first Sunday of the season.  With every team playing in one of those games, the competitive disadvantage of playing on a Thursday after playing on a Sunday was spread evenly among all teams.

This year, with the NFLN/CBS package including 14 games instead of last year’s 13-game slate on NFLN, the league will conduct a total of 17 Thursday games after the first Sunday of the season.  (Three short-week games are played on Thanksgiving, but not televised by NFLN.)  The change means that two teams will play an extra Thursday game after Week One.

The fairest (or perhaps more accurately least unfair) approach would be to park the extra Thursday game immediately after a mutual bye week for the two teams that will play in it.  While that would necessarily shrink the bye for the two teams playing in the extra Thursday game, it would avoid a pair of four-day turnarounds for any NFL team.

Of course, the league doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about the four-day turnaround, continuously citing the notion that the injury rate is no higher for games played on a short week.  But that misses the real point; for players with pre-existing injuries, it’s harder to get ready to play in the Thursday night game.

That said, player opinions are decidedly mixed on whether short-week games should continue.  While several articles over the years have focused only on those who don’t like it, the reality is that for every player who doesn’t like playing on Thursday night, there’s at least one player who relishes the mini-bye that comes on the back end of it, along with the less intense work week preceding the game.

Regardless, Thursday night football will continue, because the league realizes that it makes sense to play as many games as possible in an exclusive national window without competition from other NFL games being played at the same time.

That’s why one of the London games will be played early on a Sunday morning this season — and why the league will keep looking for ways to spread its 256-game slate into as many nooks and crannies on the calendar as possible.

26 responses to “New Thursday night arrangement could create a problem for two teams

  1. Player considerations are secondary. What puts the must bucks in the league coffers is what matters most.

  2. I’d rather forget Thursdays except for opening night and Thanksgiving.

    Make up the money by playing Saturday tripleheaders, starting the first Saturday in December and running until the end of the season. College football’s grip on Saturdays is over by then, as they all have December off to get ready for bowl games.

  3. Thank goodness the players have a respected union representing their interests, you know, one that puts player safety above the short-term financial focus of the NFL owners. Never mind, the players are represented by the NFLPA. What was I thinking.

  4. Dallas and Detroit should play the 2nd Thursday game since they always have the advantage of playing at home on Thanksgiving

  5. It may have been spread evenly but not fairly. Only one team had to play an away Thursday game after an away Suday game last year.

  6. they are greedy son of bitches , The players should strike if this is what the players voted on then they get what they deserve .

  7. You want fairness? How can that happen?

    Look at 2013. The Broncos played only two 1pm est games all season.

    The Raiders and Chargers who are in an even worse time zone played 5 games each.

  8. The posters here are smart, they know it is all about money. For me, unless my Packers are playing, these Thursday games are just background noise, as I have my sewing club over, making lampshades from my neighbors.

  9. I like Thursday night games just because it gives me two more times to see Packer games. I live in Bears territory in NW IN. I now get to see 2/3 to 3/4’s of their games. The only ones I don’t see are when the Bears and Packers both play on Sunday on Fox in the early time slot.

  10. Although I don’t agree with the London franchise thing the games are staying. As regard for getting direct tv just shows how educated some of you guys are on what’s going on in the world outside of the states. The UK has enjoyed years of live football 4 games a week and are very aware of the Xs & Os. But in the end what will probably stop the total globlelisation of the NFL is that the sport fan masses in Europe especially will not stand for the amount of stoppages / add breaks. How 60 minutes can turn into 3 hrs might be the savour in the end for traditionalist football fan of America.

  11. I think the NFL should kick off the season at Seattle with the Seahawks playing the 49ers on Thursday night. Obviously its a big rivalry, its a rematch of the Championship game and I think it would be an all around awesome way to kick the season off. On that note, neither of those teams will have a “short” week because they won’t be playing anyone the week before, so they should play at San Francisco on the last Thursday night of the season. Problem solved. Odds are, that final Thursday night game (if it’s between San Fran and Seattle) would probably determine the division and could even determine home field advantage throughout the playoffs. A lot of people will be tuned in and the NFL will make their money without handing a disadvantage to two teams.

  12. Obviously the two teams that play the Thursday opener should be the ones to get a later Thursday as well, since the opening game doesn’t screw up their schedules as much as later games do.

  13. I can’t stand the “player safety” arguement. There are 53 guys on an NFL roster and only 25 get real playing time. That leaves 28 players per team that just collect a check for watching the game with everyone else.

    How about holding GM’s and coaches accountable for overplaying guys due to their inability to draft players outside of obvious first round picks (Bill Polian) or building their gameplan around specific players (Mike Shanahan).

    Its one thing for a freak accident to cause an injury but a lot of football injuries are wear and tear which is completely preventable if teams were forced to put in their backups once a minor injury is reported.

  14. Not sure where the”competitive disadvantage” is for the teams playing on Thursday.

    The 2 teams playing have the same amount of time to prepare for each other (except the road team may have to hold one of their practices on the plane).

    Looks likes the Thursday teams would then have a competitive advantage for their next game because would have extra time to prepare.

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