Who Does the NFL's Scheduling, and Why Is It So Screwed Up?

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Who Does the NFL's Scheduling, and Why Is It So Screwed Up?

I’m lucky enough to be married to a woman who is a die-hard football fan. My wife may be even more of a gridiron junkie than I am. So when the Giants kicked off the 2008 season with a win over the Washington Redskins, it should have been a festive evening in my home. But only part of my household was happy that night.

You see, my wife’s favorite team is the San Francisco 49ers. She hasn’t had a truly happy season since the Niners beat the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. But these days, she’s downright livid.

She’s not mad about San Francisco’s 16-32 record over the last three years. She’s not upset over the uncertainty at the quarterback position, or at the fact that the team’s owner, John York, is one of the worst in professional sports.

OK, she is upset about all those things. But right now, something else has her fired up.

The San Francisco 49ers went 5-11 last year and missed the playoffs, placing third in the NFC West. Their schedule, however, does not appear to reflect their 2007 record. This season, the Niners play six teams that made the playoffs last year, including the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, the Dallas Cowboys, and the New England Patriots.

That, in itself, would be bad enough. But I made the mistake of telling my wife about the New England Patriots’ schedule.

To recap the Pats’ 2007 season, they were the first team to have an undefeated regular season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Along the way, they rewrote the offensive record books. Quarterback Tom Brady broke the single-season record for touchdown passes. Wide receiver Randy Moss enjoyed a career renaissance, breaking the single-season record for touchdown receptions and re-establishing himself as one of the elite wideouts in the game.

The Pats also came agonizingly close to winning a Super Bowl, and despite losing that game, they are widely considered to be the best team in the NFL.

Guess how many 2007 playoff teams New England will face this year?

Four.

They don’t play against a playoff team until Oct. 12, when they visit the San Diego Chargers.

Seems a bit unfair, doesn’t it?

My wife asked me to write a brief article about the disparity between the two schedules. When I asked her, specifically, what I should say about this, she answered thusly:

“We’re getting screwed!”

I can’t say that I disagree.

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