NFL Schedule and Rule Changes: Let's Not Let This Happen Again

Bryan ShipleyContributor IJanuary 5, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 27: Curtis Painter #7 of the Indianapolis Colts tries to pass the football while under pressure from Bryan Thomas #99 and Eric Smith #33 of the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Jets handed the Colts their first loss of the season, 29-15. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The NFL is looking to revamp its competitive balance. Well, I've got the solution.

I'm about to outline for you a proposal to not only add competitive balance to the league, but to make the league more money, expand to foreign markets, keep players in better health, cut down the preseason, help to eliminate Super Bowl blowouts, and to give you more football on your television. 


The Proposal revolves around a restructuring and rethinking of the schedule, but more specifically it centers on what I'll refer to as the "Award Week."

The current NFL schedule is as follows: 4 Preseason Games, 17 Regular Season Weeks comprised of 16 Already Scheduled Games, and 1 Bye Week. 

My proposed schedule would go as follows: 2 Preseason Games, 20 Regular Season Weeks comprised of 17 Already Scheduled Games, 2 Bye Weeks, and 1 Unscheduled Week to end the regular season known as the "Award Week."


The Concept is that at the end of the 17 Already Scheduled Games there is a week left for the league to pit teams against one another who are in search of common goals. Teams that finish with identical records could now compete head to head for playoff qualification, playoff seeding, even draft order.

The Steelers, Texans, Jets, and Ravens could play one another to see who gets into the playoffs. The Eagles and Vikings could play for the Two-Seed. The Lions and Rams could play for the # 1 Overall Pick. The Buccs and Chiefs could play for the Number Three Overall Pick, and so on. Suddenly each of these sub-level teams now gets to experience at least the taste of a playoff atmosphere, which might just prepare them to better compete next season.


The league is thinking about offering teams draft picks for playing their players, but what if in this "Award Week" teams actually do compete for extra draft picks? The winner of each "Award Week" game could be awarded an additional Third Round Draft Choice. So say the Saints and Colts are pitted against one another for an additional pick, or the Chargers and Cardinals or Vikings. Not only are they more likely to compete more heavily, but they'll get to know each other better. Then should they meet in the Super Bowl, the game will be more competitive.

Giving the top tier teams a chance to play each other late will only give them a better chance to prepare for highly possible Championship or Super Bowl match ups. We all know that divisional match ups, no matter how mismatched, are nearly always competitive. When teams have seen each other before it levels the playing field. Refer back to the Giants and Patriots in 2007 if you need convincing. 


The extra Bye Week and fewer preseason games ought to keep players in better health, which is good in its own right as well as the fact that it gives teams less need to rest players. 


Now I bet you're wondering about who gets the Home Field Advantage in the "Award Week" game. Well it's simple. See, each team throughout the regular already scheduled portion of the season will have played 8 Games at Home, 8 Games in Opposing Teams' Stadiums, and 1 Game on foreign soil. That's right. This plan even gives the NFL sixteen games a year to play in London, Tokyo, Mexico City, Montreal, Barcelona, Rome, Moscow, Madagascar, Pap New Guinea...  wherever the hell they want. That's right Roger. You're liking this idea now aren't you?

So by the time we end up at the "Award Week" everyone is on common ground and simply put, the team heading into that point with the better record or tie break edge would get the home field advantage. So now Indianapolis and New Orleans would've been racing each other for home field advantage for this game throughout the season. They wouldn't have just been competing against their own division or conference but against the highest competition, and would have more incentive to play their best players. 


Under this proposal you would get:

✓ 3 More Weeks of televised regular season NFL football every year.

✓ An Expanding Market

✓ Healthier Players

✓ Top tier teams putting their best product on the field for longer in the season

✓ Virtually no need for tie breaking procedures to determine playoff contention

✓ Virtually no need for tie breaking procedures to determine playoff seeding

✓ Teams earning draft picks through competition

✓ Every team in at least a somewhat meaningful game in January

✓ A greater chance at more competitive Super Bowl Match Ups