You know, I'll be the first admit that I'm not a huge fan of most of the "tinkering" that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell likes to do to make the game "better."
An 18-game regular season? Terrible idea.
Expanded Playoffs? Even worse.
16 lousy Thursday night games? Why would anyone want...never mind.
However, there's one thing that Goodell has done that has made sense (for fans, at least), and I'd like to see it done more.
Should "Flex" Scheduling be Expanded?
For the past several seasons, from Week 11 on, the NFL can "flex" the scheduling in an effort to move more interesting lineups later in the day, including potentially changing out the Sunday night game.
That last practice will be implemented in Week 16, as a thrilling contest between the flailing New York Jets and bumbling San Diego Chargers has been replaced by an NFC West showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
On behalf of America, thanks for that.
I understand that "flex" scheduling is a very complicated endeavor that involves attempting to placate at least three television networks at the same time, but is there any reason why we can't have more of it? When did Roger Goodell and the NFL start caring what anyone, even TV bigwigs, think?
There are a few reasons why with "flex" scheduling more could be better.
First, let's start doing it earlier. Granted, the NFL and NBC have done a pretty good job of keeping the Sunday night games, as the "showcase" game of the week, compelling, as last week's slugfest between the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots aptly demonstrates.
However, occasionally a stinker of sorts slips through, and if we're going to start messing with the schedule in Week 11, why can't we do it in Week 6?
Second, while we're "flexing" the Sunday night games, can we also occasionally get a Monday night game that's worth watching? Yes, the Patriots and Houston Texans in Week 14 was a treat on paper, but any more the Monday night games are more likely to feature matchups like Week 15's barn burner between the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans.
Should Thursday Night Games be Eliminated?
I know that "flexing" a game to a day later could pose some problems, but I have an idea. Create a "pool" each week of the top four matchups. Each network would then, a few weeks in advance, pick one of those games, either for prime time or a late afternoon game. The first pick would rotate.
Yes, it means that the players and actual ticket-buying stadium-attending fans might get hosed, but the NFL has already made it abundantly clear that they don't care about them anyway.
Finally, since we're jackstomping the schedule in favor of improving the viewing experience, can we please just "flex" the Thursday night games out of existence?
All they serve to do is increase the chances of players getting hurt playing in an ugly game that makes the owners a few extra bucks.
I guess two out of three is better than nothing.