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Happy anniversary, 16-game schedule

Kansas City Chiefs v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

It is safe to say there are many, many NFL fans who have never known life without a 16-game NFL schedule.

But the regular season wasn’t always this long.

Thirty-seven years ago today, the NFL expanded the regular season from 14 to 16 games. The league also added a second wild-card team. Both changes took effect as of 1978.

And for nearly four decades, the scheduling status quo has held.

This, of course, could change very soon, with so much speculation about the addition of a third wild-card team, thus increasing the playoff count to seven teams per conference.

There has also been speculation about a move to 18 regular season games at some point. This could lead to change in the preseason structure, which has long been a four-game format.

Well, 37 years ago today, the NFL implemented that four-game preseason slate.

As dates go, March 29, 1977 was a pretty important one in NFL history. The oh-so-familiar rhythm of the NFL game calendar started to take hold.

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13 Responses to “Happy anniversary, 16-game schedule”
  1. nygmann says: Mar 29, 2014 7:59 PM

    Fascinating! Long live the 16 week schedule!

  2. pftisfulloftrolls says: Mar 29, 2014 8:00 PM

    Do you think that they thought 16 games was to many back in ’77?

  3. raiderapologist says: Mar 29, 2014 8:00 PM

    Damn. I’m old.

  4. j0esixpack says: Mar 29, 2014 8:14 PM

    The funny thing is people were saying the same thing about the 16 game season and extra wild card spot “ruining the game” as the league expanded

    Then they said the same thing in 1990 when the team added more teams and another wildcard spot

    “It’ll ruin the game”

    The NFL has since expanded. The cry is the same on a 14 team playoff again today

  5. luz56 says: Mar 29, 2014 8:32 PM

    Increase roster size … Up the salary cap accordingly… Cut the pre season… Increase wild card teams.. and for last measure re-alignment.. Larger divisions with top two teams in each making playoffs … Forgot to get all players set up with a OBGYN with all the complaining that will take place

  6. elliottcovert says: Mar 29, 2014 8:56 PM

    Maybe it’s just because it’s all that I’ve ever known, but I feel that 16 games is the perfect number. I would rather have too little NFL action than too much, but I think 14 would be insufficient. Adding more games would simply mean more pointless, inconsequential games at the end of the season once the playoffs had already been determined.

    Two wild card teams also seems like the right amount to me. Although it’s a bummer to see a team like last year’s Cardinals miss the playoffs, I don’t want to see the NFL’s playoff format mimic the NBA’s format, where more than half the league makes it and sub-.500 teams are a regular occurrence.

  7. patswhatsup says: Mar 29, 2014 9:05 PM

    I am only in favor of expanded playoffs if the league itself expands. If there’s another 4-8 teams then I could see it. 12 teams getting in is already 37.5% of the league.

  8. ytownjoe says: Mar 29, 2014 9:10 PM

    Eliminate two preseason games and schedule 18 regular season games. Start the season in mid-August. Add about 10 players to the roster and require each team to have three QBs on the roster because they’re gonna get banged up. I love football.

  9. Wineshard says: Mar 29, 2014 9:32 PM

    When I started reading this article I couldn’t get Commandant Lassard’s voice from Police Academy out of my head.

  10. sincethesixtys says: Mar 29, 2014 9:38 PM

    When they made the change, there were six preseason games. The tradeoff was four preseason games and an increase to 16 regular games.

  11. j0esixpack says: Mar 29, 2014 10:05 PM

    patswhatsup says: 12 teams getting in is already 37.5% of the league.

    ————-

    nfortunately it’s the “wrong” 37.5%

    8-8 teams currently get in if they play in a weak conference

    11-5 teams are left out.

    This wouldn’t change bad teams getting in – it would only ensure that good teams get in too. And the bad teams have a way of quickly ousting themselves anyways.

  12. edavidberg says: Mar 30, 2014 2:13 AM

    The NFL is perfect as it is. No need to mess with a good thing.

  13. zdravit says: Mar 30, 2014 11:34 AM

    If you calculate inflation, it should be over 20 games by now.

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