As the first day of the playoffs concludes, there’s one last item of business to consider as to the final weekend of the regular season.
And the key word is indeed business. For every successful business, there is constant pressure to increase revenue. At some point, however, there’s nowhere else to jam cheese into the crust of the pizza.
For the NFL, plenty of opportunities for ongoing growth exist. Here’s one, as it relates to the final weekend of the regular season.
In recent years, the ongoing quest for more has caused the league to deviate from its prior obsession to play all games of the final weekend on the same day, ideally with games connected by playoff implications played at the same time. That has ended, with the decision to give (sell) a pair of last-Saturday games to ESPN.
So why not fully lean into a two-day slate for the last weekend of the year? It’s an idea that was mentioned at an NBC dinner last Saturday night. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes.
It’s simple, which is always one of the hallmarks of a not-bad idea. For Week 18, the league would play half the slate on Saturday, and the other half on Sunday.
The obvious line of demarcation would be games within a given conference. Since every game in the last week of the season is a division contest, the league would stage, for example, eight AFC games on Saturday and eight NFC games on Sunday.
Three windows each day. Six windows for the weekend. More football for fans to consume, at a time when college football is, but for the national championship game, over.
To give all playoff teams a fair shake to prepare for the wild-card round, the two Saturday games would be played by the conference that played its last regular-season games on Saturday. And maybe the third one could be played on Friday night, giving the NFL four days of prime-time playoff football, from Friday to Monday.
Whether the league does it or not, these are the kinds of ideas that will help grow a pie that is currently bursting from the pan. Short of expanding the season or adding teams to the league (and the playoff field), this is the kind of easy tweak that adds revenue without increasing expenses by a single penny.