So as most of you have heard by now, be it in the news, on various sports sites, or even here at Stampede Blue, it looks like the 18 game season is where the owners want to go. You have seen countless posts here at Stampede Blue that are updating you on the story across the media ( BBS - Howie Long, DR97 - Bill Polian, Every fan should oppose, BBS - Bill Polian Future). If your article isn't up here, it's nothing personal. I tried to find informational posts with good debate. I'll be happy to add.
It appears that across this great country of ours, it's a split on what we, the fans, want. Every one of us wants more football, but do we want it at the expense of potentially significant injury risks, higher prices at games for everything, and to continue watching the league screw us over? I love football, ever since I was a kid. I've always watched, played, or video gamed this great game as often as I could. I've been a Colts fan since the team moved here when I was 3. My grandparents were some of the lucky few who had early season tickets.
However, the very tiny part of me that has a shred of sanity tells me this push for an 18 game season is a bad idea. Not only are there a ton of variables that have to be factored in, it also could damage one of the absolute best postseason formats in all sports.
18 Game Season
More Football. Obviously, the REAL season becomes longer, so we'll watch more games.
Expanded rosters. Regardless of the money deals, this is going to be one of the most critical and important factors in expansion. Teams already run thin on players through out the season as it is. There will have to be a major adjustment to rosters to make this work. I made a suggestion that I think would be the best for teams in another blog post here at Stampede Blue. Do away with the practice squads and add another 12 players to each team. This allows for more flexibility and diversity among players. Guys like John Chick or Tom Brandstater would still be on our active roster right now.
- Diversity. This is a huge leap, but the added 2 games could significantly impact the playoffs more. Think of how the Broncos self destructed in the final week of the season and lost the division to the Chargers, or last year's "Not It!" of teams who with a win in the final week would have been in the playoffs. The extra 2 games could potentially boost teams who struggle with injuries in mid season such as last years Texans.
- Scheduling. Could more rivalry games become a part of this?
- Injuries. Football is a violent, bone crushing sport. It's simply a matter of physics. Players have gotten faster, bigger, and far more capable of unleashing absolutely beautiful train wreck hits. However, that comes with a very significant impact to teams who lose players (Colts lose Edge for the year, go 6-10 in 2002). Injuries are a part of any sport, as you can hurt yourself just getting out of bed, washing the dishes, or jumping for joy after a FG. Ultimately, in the current format, teams simply do not have the resources to bring in players. There are no farm teams, no development leagues, and certainly the only kind of junior league is the college teams.
Prices. Fans are already paying a lot of money for tickets, concessions, sports gear, etc. Adding more games will certainly increase pricing. How much will this impact the average fan?
- Money. Players want more of it, fans want to spend less of it, and owners don't want to split any of it.
- On field product. Do fans want to continue seeing more teams going 2-16, 3-15, or dare I even say, 0-18? How does increasing the amount of games benefit the teams? Especially when teams have already managed to maintain a mediocre level of achievement.
- Roster increases. Even though I listed this as a positive, I think it's by far the most important thing that has to be done for teams. Consider the guys the Colts have had to cut over the last few years who were great but couldn't unseat starters. Or even guys we've had to let go because we couldn't afford to sign them back and fill our roster.
- Development league. I have a lot of doubt that this ever sees the light of day, but I think this is something the league has to start considering. This could be a league that could play during training camp and even end right at the start of the NFL season. Those players could then train with their respective teams. There are countless possible ways to do this, so I won't list them.
Stats. I know many of you have mentioned how stats are going to become meaningless with the added 2 games. Guess what? The game has evolved. Even now, with the current format, stats and records of old are falling left and right. Think about it: Peyton Manning broke Young/Rice's TD to WR record set back in the 90's with Marvin Harrison by about 30 TD's. He's now moving up that record list again with Reggie Wayne (63? TD's). Offenses are more efficient, defenses are far better, and training is at an all time high.
- Rookie Pay Scale. Regardless of the CBA, there is no way the league gets the 18 game season it wants without a rookie pay scale. Veterans are tired of being underpaid while watching unproven fodder get twice as much money. For all the owners crying of splitting up more money, if teams weren't paying 70 million dollars to a rookie player who has not proven a thing, while offering a 4 time Pro Bowler chump change, they wouldn't be losing this kind of money on a regular basis. Every major sport league except the NFL has a rookie scale setup. It's time the NFL adopted one.
6 games in conference + two full AFC divisions (8) every year, rotated every year so you play every division two years in a row then skip them for one year and so on. + one full NFC division every year (4) rotated through all four divisons every year. = 18 games.
You would play every AFC division for two years in a row , playing each team home and away, instead of just moving on to a new division every year.
So every losing team would get a rematch the next year.
Year one- AFC North (2 home, 2 away) and AFC West ( 2 home, 2 away)
Year two- AFC North (2 home, 2 away) and AFC East (2 home, 2 away)
Year three- AFC East (2 home, 2 away) and AFC West (2 home, 2 away)
and then begin again with that progression.
This is a very well thought out idea. I'm just not a fan of this suggestion, as I think it resembles too much of the "divisional" aspect that teams already deal with. However, what this does is open the door to potential "rivalry" games that could be scheduled any time of the year regardless of the schedule. Imagine the Colts playing the Patriots, Ravens, Steelers every season....or imagine the Buccaneers being able to play the Packers every season. It's a potential cash windfall, as teams always show up for rivalry games. Now obviously the question is what do you do when the divisions rotate? Well there are 2 possible choices. Let the teams play twice.....which would allow a "home" and "away" game option, or you can alter the schedule every 3 years. I personally like option 1. I'd love to kick the crap out of a team at home and on the road....that could put them completely out of the playoffs on tiebreakers...
All this is going to do is prolong the season and give scrub teams more of a chance to make the playoffs. Instead of the Colts resting starts in week 15 and 16, they’ll be resting their starters for week 15-18, basically twice as many useless games for teams who lock stuff up early. It’s going to be really lame and the NFL is going to realize very shortly that it’s a stupid idea.
If anything, they should make the playoffs long by adding two more teams per conference. Who gives a shit about watching the freakin Lions play two more regular season games. I’d rather watch some exciting playoff do or die football.
Would the additional 2 games impact the postseason format? Could the league be gearing up to add additional teams? I think it has a potential to do so, especially with adding 2 more games to the mix. You could easily have a good 8-9 teams all with 10+ wins every year, in each conference. Regardless of the quality of their wins, it would still be 10-12 wins for teams.
If that is indeed the case, the best way I see to do this is simple. Toss out the current format. It will not work because you'd have to add either an additional set of bye weeks, or earning the top seed won't matter anymore.
Current format: 6 teams
Top 2 seeds get a bye
Remaining 2 divisional winners get home game
New format: 7 teams
Arrange teams according to overall record, not division
Top seed gets bye week
Remaining 6 teams play each other, with the divisional winners still getting their home game.
Seeding goes 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, and 4 vs. 5
Lowest ranked team plays #1 seed following week.
Now, for some, it's pretty obvious why I arranged teams according to record, not division. I don't want to see another team who is 9-7 or 8-8 get to be a higher seeded team despite producing less on the field. The league will never strip away a home game for a division winner, which is why I just said screw it. You give the division winners a home game, BUT they will play according to how they finish the season, not the division. Also, with the additional ONE team, it doesn't make the playoffs any different really. You still have what amounts to Wild Card weekend. You still have the Divisional round, and you still have the Conference Championships.
As always, thanks for reading.