Will two bye weeks return for NFL?

Dallas Cowboys v Pittsburgh Steelers
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In 1993, and only in 1993, the NFL had two bye weeks. The one-year experiment stretched the regular season to 18 weeks.

Now, with the addition of a 17th game, the season permanently becomes an 18-week proposition, minimum. It also feels like a matter of time before the NFL adds an 18th game. At that time, or possibly before then, the league could bring back a second bye week.

The league has resisted returning to two byes because the networks didn’t like it. With every team getting two weeks off in an 18-week season, the week-in, week-out schedule became diluted.

But the circumstances have changed, and they will change some more. For starters, the league has expanded from 28 teams to 32 since 1993, which provides two extra games per week. More importantly, as legalized gambling spreads and as advances in technology allow for robust in-game, per-play betting by projecting images in real time from stadiums to homes and sports bars, the league and the networks will prefer having fewer games played at once.

That’s why it’s likely if not inevitable that the league eventually will expand broadcast windows, with four on Sundays (the London games could begin at 9:30 a.m. ET), two on Mondays, one on Tuesdays, one on Wednesdays, and one or two on Thursdays. (Friday and Saturday are off limits from Labor Day until mid-December, due to the broadcast antitrust exemption.)

A second bye would help to further limit the cluster of 1:00 p.m. ET games that becomes a dizzying experience for those who’d like to focus on one game at a time. Those six, seven, eight, nine, or 10 games played at once also represent missed opportunities to maximize in-game betting on any one contest.

Use of a second bye also would make it easier to justify a creative alignment of gaps between games, making it easier to fill in Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays without having players perform on insufficient rest.

Regardless, more is coming. More than 17 games. More than 18 weeks. Eventually, 18 games. Eventually, two byes.

(Eventually, more teams.)

20 responses to “Will two bye weeks return for NFL?

  1. Not to mention, two bye weeks also solves the NFL’s PR problem of “not caring about player health.” What player wouldn’t want an extra week of rest during the season?

  2. Don’t like 17 or 18 games. But since there is going to be 18 eventually, minus 2 preseason games for 1 regular season game and a bye. I like the idea of 2 MNF games (like they do on opening night) but the second game, since it would have to be a Mountain or Pacific time limits the teams that can be picked to 7 of them since it starts at 10:20 pm ET. Unless you make the first game starts at 6:00 pm ET and then you can have the second game start at 9:00 pm ET. As someone that lives on Pacific Time it doesn’t bother me much but someone on East/Central Time might want to watch both games. Don’t like the flexing from Sunday as now you have to make adjusted travel arrangements. Don’t like the idea of Tuesday or Wednesday. I realized how much more Thursday was interesting after they cancelled a couple of them during this year. Before I used to hate Thursday games.

  3. As a fan, more football is a good thing. Expanding rosters wouldn’t be bad either.

  4. blitzed says:

    April 4, 2021 at 11:16 am

    Not to mention, two bye weeks also solves the NFL’s PR problem of “not caring about player health.” What player wouldn’t want an extra week of rest during the season?
    ———————
    Not not simple. It depends on the player/team and what the 2nd bye is in place of. If just adding onto the season for teams not going to the playoffs it just means their season is extended for an extra week(which is exactly how the NFLPA would spin it) so unless it’s in place of a preseason game(which would bring the preseason to 1 game at that point since the 18th game would replace the 3rd preseason game) the players will oppose this. After all it’s like asking you if you would oppose getting an extra unpaid hour of lunch each day but it would extend your day by 1 hour.

  5. Game is already watered down and at times unwatchable: Jets, Bears, Jags and more. Teams don’t practice like they used to makes September games awful as they get into game shape.
    NFL can go 30 works and make every team a playoff team…fans are dropping just like cord cutting. Heck they should just play 52 weeks a year and crown a champ like soccer in Europe based on wins.

  6. With increased games and potential injuries the NFL should revisit the proposal to eliminate inactive players on game days.

  7. I like two bye weeks. I would have teams play Thursday games coming off a bye week. Then they’d have 10 days rest, a game, and then 10 more days rest. Nobody playing on 4 days rest. That’s ok in non-contact sports, but it’s nuts to do it in football.

  8. I like 2 bye weeks because it will extend the season. I care very little about player safety given they make a tremendous amount of money and not a single one of them is forced to play football.

  9. rcoh says:
    April 4, 2021 at 3:44 pm
    Expansion teams. Two more. But where?

    ———

    If anything they should reduce the number of teams. There are already too few good coaches and a number of teams are not even competitive. Watering down the talent even more is not the answer

  10. play 6, 6 and 5 in no particular order, I never understood the leagues way of starting the byes at 4 weeks until all teams had a bye, the teams at the end of the byes had a distinct advantage especially if they were playoff bound, doesn’t seem like rocket science and making the gameday rosters a bit larger would only promote player health

  11. The CBA won’t allow an 18th game until it expires in 2031, so that’s not happening anytime soon.

    Regardless, a second bye is what the NFL should have done INSTEAD of adding a 17th game.

  12. I would prefer a 16 game season but 18 seems inevitable. Thursday games should be played by teams coming off a bye week. Then they’d have 10 days rest, a game, and then 9 more days rest before the next game. Players get a real rest so the quality of Thursday night games would be greatly improved.

  13. nhpats2011 says:

    If anything they should reduce the number of teams. There are already too few good coaches and a number of teams are not even competitive. Watering down the talent even more is not the answer

    I don’t think the problem with the league is bad coaching. Yes there is bad coaching. But for me the watering down of the product on the field has more to do with rules – lessened defense, protection for QBs that make anyone the GOAT, division structures that have in some cases for years resulted in the same teams emerging. Coaching doesn’t solve that. Neither does fewer teams or more bye weeks. It’s just not the same game I grew up with.

  14. week 8 all AFC teams are on a bye, week 9 all NFC teams are on a bye. The next year switch em up?

  15. Even a football junky like myself would likely not watch as high a % of the games if they add Tues & Wed games. Those games would likely play into a dilution of interest which would begin to effect interest in weekend games as well. Humans do get tired of, and take for granted, things they once loved greatly when they are around it too much (or when it is overly available).

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