Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Possible Solution for NFL 18 game Schedule

Professional sports is altered mainly because of superior athletes, sophisticated coaching tactics, or the need to generate additional league revenue.

Possible Solution for NFL 18 game Schedule

This New Proposed NFL Schedule & Playoff Format Will:

- Replace the two extra proposed regular season games with two weeks of wild card games, where every NFL team now advances to the postseason.

- Schedule most teams to play 17-18 games total (including playoffs) with a handful of teams playing up to 19-20 games (including playoffs)

- Feature divisional rivalries for the two weeks of wild card games, ensuring maximum fan interest.

- Promote a divisional winner and it's wild card companion to create a sweet 16 of playoff teams.

- Seed each conference by total wins and total points for home field advantage. This ensures league integrity during the closing weeks of the season.

- Add TV and gate revenue for 6 weeks of playoffs (31 total playoff games) compared to the present 4 weeks (11 total playoff games)

- Reduce preseason games to a total of two.

With these changes, the NFL's regular season starts two weeks earlier, and the delay of the Super Bowl by only one week.

TV Networks:
The popularity of the NFL has enabled the league to negotiate billion dollar contracts with television networks.

opularity of the NFL has enabled the league to negotiate billion dollar contracts
What would 2 NFL wild card weekends be worth, in which all 16 games were televised in separate time slots (12:00 - 3:30 - 7:00 - 10:00), on 2 Saturdays and 2 Sundays, on each coast?

NFL Player Acceptance:
NFL players are not against playing more then 16 games a season unless the games actually mean something. 

NFL players are not against playing more then 16 games a season
Tom Brady in the last decade has played 9 postseasons with a total of 19 playoff games. A NFL 17-20 game schedule has been the norm for elite QB's like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. The issue  is not a 18 game schedule, but the notion that players are willing to risk their health for games that mean something (playoffs).

NFL Coaches Acceptance:
NFL coaches will now be rewarded appropriately for the hard work in scouting, preparation, game-planning, and success during the regular season.

NFL coaches will now be rewarded appropriately for the hard work in scouting, preparation, game-planning
Home field advantage and the much sought after playoff byes, will significantly impact divisional matchups.

NFL Owner Acceptance:
Owners can generate more revenue without diluting the quality of the NFL product, which a regular 18 game season would do. 

NFL Owner AcceptanceNFL Owner Acceptance money profits
NFL Players who are lost early in the season due to injury, can re-energize the franchise with a late season surge. Merchandise and tickets sales would stay consistent all season long, at the very least

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
The Playoff format reinforces the importance of winning every regular season game and scoring as many points possible. An ideal competitive situation desired by the NFL commissioner.

ideal competitive situation desired by the NFL commissioner
The Wild Card playoffs can create new future stars that the league can expose and market over the following off season. Add in the possibility of playoff upsets during these two wild card weeks, and now the league has a Cinderella team that gains national attention and following.

Fan Acceptance:
Why would any winning team's fan base object to having the leagues bottom tier teams playing in wild card games? The odds would be stacked against the wild card teams to succeed while giving their favorite team a much needed playoff bye.

Sports fans have had to overcome and accept free agency
Sports fans have had to overcome and accept free agency, wild card playoffs, and salary caps for the health of the their game and rising players income. The idea of an all-inclusive playoff format would follow the same reluctance and then eventual acceptance. How the NFL markets this concept will impact the speed of implementation and acceptance.

Two less preseason games for season ticket holders?  Enough said!

Additional Improvements to the New NFL Format:

The option to modify bye weeks and training camps dates would benefit the league overall.

Bye weeks would be awarded in sequence by total Division win records to properly award tougher divisions with later bye weeks (bye weeks from week 6 - 13, one division bye per week with the weakest divisions starting at week 6 and so on...)

NFL training camps can use  joint practices (Patriots & Saints example) to enhance player evaluation. The joint practices and / or two a day practices can allow the NFL players union the option to negotiate a latter training camp starting date.

What about the NHL, NBA, and MLB?
MLB broke tradition and introduced wild card teams to increase revenue.

MLB broke tradition and introduced wild card teams to increase revenue
The NHL added overtime and shootouts to help increase popularity.

NBA has been constantly tinkering with their playoff seeding to promote league integrity.

The NFL is ideally suited to become the first all-inclusive playoff league, of the four major professional sports. The NFL's one game a week schedule, and the endless thirst in popularity by the public and TV networks, makes the wild card weekends an easy sell.

If the NFL succeeds in fan acceptance and revenue growth, it would be a "when" and not a "if" for the other major sports leagues to follow suit.

18 Game Schedule or Wild Card Games?
An 18 game schedule for every team in the NFL will result in more meaningless games at season's end, star players being rested for the playoffs, and the majority of playoff matchups already decided well in advance. The 18 game schedule will reduce the preseason games by two, but make most of the season ending games as an extended exhibition of  unimportance.

18 Game Schedule or Wild Card Games
As a NFL fan, if I have the option of a diluted 18 regular season schedule or an extended wild card playoff, then I would prefer this new NFL format. The integrity and competitiveness of the NFL schedule remains intact throughout the regular season.

The Future is Now?

The pivotal question is whether this format could be supported today by the NFL fanbase? If every team could make the wild card playoffs, would NFL stadiums sell out this January? Would TV networks pay exorbitant fees to cover these wild card games? I think we already know the answer to these questions.
NFL stadiums sell out this JanuaryWould TV networks pay exorbitant fees to cover these wild card gameswild card teams, best of five, and free agents were unheard of in major professional sports
Years ago, wild card teams, best of five, and free agents were unheard of in major professional sports leagues. Today, the thought of an all-inclusive league playoff system is still a far fetched notion.

Or is it?

Projecting New NFL Schedule & Format:

Based on the NFL final 2010 Season standings and the home team winning each playoff game:

Training camp opens July 25th
Preseason game 1: Sat, Aug 14
Preseason game 2: Sat, Aug 21
Week 1 Opening game: Thursday Aug 26
Week 17 Last Regular Season Game: Sunday Dec 26th
Wild Card Week 1: Sat Jan 1st
Wild Card Week 2: Sat Jan 8st
Conference Quarterfinals: Sat Jan 15th
Conference Semifinals: Sat Jan 22nd
Conference Finals: Sat Jan 29th
Super Bowl Sun Feb 13th

Sat Jan 1st Wild Card Week 1:
Imagine that every NFL team is playoff bound for the New Year's holiday weekend kickoff.
Santa at NFL games
Divisional games are easier to market with intense rivalries. Consider how much more interest the last place Vikings game would have received, with a well rested Brett Favre in a wild card game?

AFC East - Bills @ Dolphins (Jets ,Patriots Bye)
AFC North - Bengals @ Browns (Ravens , Steelers Bye)
AFC South - Titans @ Texans (Jags, Colts Bye)
AFC West - Broncos @ Raiders (Chargers, Chiefs Bye)
NFC East - Redskins @ Cowboys (Giants, Eagles Bye)
NFC North- Vikings @ Lions (Packers, Bears Bye)
NFC South - Panthers @ Bucs (Saints, Falcons Bye)
NFC West - Cardinals @ 49ers  (Rams, Seahawks Bye)

Sat Jan 8th Wild Card Week 2:
All the second seeded teams earned a bye and are now hosting week one wild card divisional winners.

AFC East - Dolphins @ Jets ( Patriots Bye)
AFC North -  Browns @ Ravens ( Steelers Bye)
AFC South - Texans @ Jags ( Colts Bye)
AFC West - Raiders @ Chargers ( Chiefs Bye)
NFC East -  Cowboys @ Giants ( Eagles Bye)
NFC North-  Lions @ Packers (Bears Bye)
NFC South -  Bucs @ Saints ( Falcons Bye)
NFC West -  49ers @ Rams (Seahawks Bye)

Sat Jan 15th Conference Quarterfinals:
Each conference will now have 8 teams remaining that are now seeded by wins and points scored.
integrity and competitiveness of the NFL schedule remains intact
Divisional winners with poor regular season records are not rewarded with a home playoff date. The Chiefs, Colts, and Seahawks would have all opened on the road in this format.

AFC
Jags @ Patriots
Chargers @ Steelers
Chiefs @ Ravens
Colts @ Jets

NFC
Seahawks @ Falcons
Bucs @ Saints
Packers @ Bears
Giants @ Eagles

Sat Jan 22nd Conference Semifinals:
Winners are reseeded for home field advantage.

AFC
Jets @ Patriots
Ravens @ Steelers

NFC
Eagles @ Falcons
Bears @ Saints

Sat Jan 29th Conference Finals:
Winners are reseeded for home filed advantage.

AFC
Steelers @ Patriots

NFC
Saints @ Falcons

Sun Feb 13th Super Bowl
The Super bowl ends one week later and the season started two weeks earlier.
uper bowl ends one week later and the season started two weeks earlier
Every team has played a minimum of 17 games and the divisional winner played the identical 20 games (if they win the Super bowl), as previous Super Bowl Champions.

Falcons @ Patriots

The NFL season is now officially over. The NFL fan base, who spent their hard earned money on tickets and merchandise during the season, can at least take the taste of playoff football to the off season with optimism and excitement.
NFL season is now officially over

What's wrong with that?
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