Finally some news from the NFL that is not pertaining to the rapidly approaching draft or the off-field antics of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I mean, we all love hearing Todd McShay and Mel Kiper duke it out on which man has more knowledge on the way the draft will turn out, or watching Ben Roethlisberger’s big dome answer questions regarding harassment. In this instance though, there is a nice change of pace. We are talking scheduling for next year. This evening, the NFL schedules will be released in the form of a television program. What is next, a baseball season scheduling show? But this is besides the point and a topic for another day.
The main premise of this and the actual importance. All week 17 games will be divisional games! This is a great thing for the sport, and really should help mend some of the complacency that teams typically demonstrate during the final week. Thank you Mr. Goodell and the NFL Scheduling staff. I have been waiting for the League to institute something to this effect for years.
Divisional games always hold a higher level of importance for any team whether you are in contention or not. They are typically full of fierce rivalries, generally getting the fans and teams excited whether the game has playoff implications or not.
This is really a fantastic move by the League in every way. Most team’s first goal of any year is to win a divisional title. This will get a team an automatic bid into the playoffs and also will ensure that you outdid the majority of your rivals in the regular season. In addition, say a team like the Bengals is out of contention hypothetically come week 17. If they are scheduled to play the Steelers. Fans will get hyped and the city will be excited. Divisional rivals have really become a defining feature of this League. So why not play to the strengths that this great League already has. Lastly, this is great for television ratings. People will be more apt to watch games during the final week even if they have no playoff indications if they are matching up rival teams.
Another interesting fact. There will be 28 divisional games in the final 3 weeks. There were only 15 last year. I feel like teams generally improve as the year goes on. So why not play your divisional opponents, who are normally your biggest rivals as your team is continuing to improve? It goes perfectly with the famous expression of “saving the best for last.”
Do not forget that the draft will be on primetime this Thursday. It will drag on for 3 days this year rather than the typical 2. Should be a big weekend for the NFL.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.