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Monday open thread: Should the NFL change to an 18-game schedule?

The NFL made a proposal to change the schedule, but should they?

NFL Draft Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Late last week, it was reported that the NFL has pitched changing the schedule in the upcoming years. We will see if this goes beyond the negotiation stage, since the NFLPA also has to agree to the change. What is the change, you ask?

According to a report from Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, the NFL proposed expanding to 18 games per season. The catch? Each player can only play a maximum of 16 games. This is certainly a bold proposition, and it would implement a whole new aspect of planning when to sit your starters.

There are some positive aspects to this. Firstly, it would give backups ample opportunities to play in regular season games. Developing talent is something that the NFL has struggled with, given the lack of developmental leagues similar to the MLB, NHL, and NBA. Practice squads exist, but their size and restrictions hinder longer-term development. Additionally, playing actual games versus other teams is excellent experience.

Increasing the schedule to 18 games would also net even more money for the juggernaut that is the NFL. Regardless of how you feel about owners and the league, they would certainly benefit.

However, the biggest problem with this is that it forces teams to sit their stars, which is annoying from a coaching perspective and a fan perspective. For the coaches, they have to play a chess game throughout the season. Every week, they’ll have to decide whether to sacrifice starting their best players for the sake of saving them for later in the season. As a coach, your goal should be to have the best players on the field. This goes completely against that.

Meanwhile for fans, you watch games and buy tickets expecting the best available players. Imagine paying hundreds of dollars on tickets expecting to see Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes, and instead you get to see Brian Hoyer versus Chad Henne. Injuries happen over the course of the season, sure. But imagine being robbed of the watching stars because the coaching staff decided to sit them. Not due to performance, not due to injuries, but due to a rule stating they couldn’t.

Today’s Question of the Day:

Should the NFL change its schedule?

My answer: There isn’t really a right answer to how the NFL should manage its schedule. However, there are plenty of wrong ways to schedule your season, and I think having 18 games but limiting players to 16 is an awful idea.

Firstly, roster sizes would have to drastically increase. I’m not necessarily against this, but it would be a huge change from the current status quo. Why the roster increase? Think of positions like kicker, punter, and longsnapper. Teams only keep one of each on their team. As a result, an additional three players would have to be on the roster, unless you opt to sign them the week before sitting your starters. As well, most teams carry two quarterbacks. A lot of teams struggle to find a good starting quarterback, let alone a good backup. Similar problems occur with positions like offensive line and cornerbacks. Finding starters is tough enough.

My opinion is that the NFL’s schedule is in a good state right now. I think 16 games is enough to make the season exciting, but it is also short enough that the players don’t get worn out. Expanding by a game or two seems like nothing but a cash grab by the league. It is also doubtful that contracts will be changed to reflect this, which is tough for bottom-of-the-roster players. I would be in favor of adding an additional bye week to further give players and coaches a break.

If you have to expand the season, I agree with Pat McAfee’s idea:

Your turn.


Should the NFL expand its schedule to 18 games?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    (82 votes)
  • 24%
    Yes, but not with the 16-game player limit
    (151 votes)
  • 62%
    (390 votes)
623 votes total Vote Now

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