This isn’t the first time the NFL has had an 18-week regular season. In 1993, the NFL spread 16 games over 18 weekends, with each team having two byes. The experiment ended after one year, because the networks didn’t like the dilution of the quality of the weekly slates of games.
This year, it’s 18 weeks with 17 games. (Before too long, I’ll be typing that it’s 19 weeks with 18 games.)
It’s even more of a grind than usual. Injuries will be more of a factor than usual. Teams will have more time to turn around a bad start than usual.
And that’s all the more reason to not freak out about the outcome of the Week One games. It’s only worth fretting if/when a team loses at home to a division rival to start the season, because those two teams will play again with the team that lost being the visitor. It makes a sweep more likely, and it dramatically complicates the ability of the team that gets swept to win the division.
Only two teams fall into that potential category today: New England at home against Miami, and Houston at home against Jacksonville. For the Texans, a win or a loss won’t matter. For the Patriots, losing to the Dolphins would definitely throw an early wrench in the plans to get back to the postseason. Especially with the Bills in the AFC East.
Regardless, enjoy the first Sunday of the season. We’ll be with you every step of the way. As we always are, whether it’s Week One or Week Eight or Week Eighteen or the postseason or every day in the long drought between the Super Bowl and the start of the next season.
The next season starts now. Except for the game that was played on Thursday night. But you get the point. Have fun today.