Over the last several years, there have been rumblings coming from NFL headquarters about adding two more games to the regular season to maximize the amount of profit the league could make. Of course, the NFL Players’ Association was not on board with that, and after all of the research that has surfaced in recent years surrounding CTE, who can blame them.
Extending the NFL season is still something the league seems interested in though. I think I might have a solution here that could actually help the players as well.
First and foremost, scrap the Hall of Fame game. No one watches it and after last year’s fiasco, it is clear that not even the league really cares about it. After doing that, bump the start of the preseason up a week. Coaches won’t love this, but it will pay off down the line.
What does that do? It creates room for another bye week in the NFL schedule without pushing the Super Bowl any later, adding any games to the schedule or sacrificing any preseason games that teams use to evaluate talent.
The NFL regular season will now be 18 weeks long instead of 17. Each team would have a bye week some time during weeks 4-7, with two divisions, one from each conference, taking the week off. This makes scheduling easier and allows for last week of the season division games to still take place. That means that eight teams are off each week, across four weeks that gets us to all 32 teams getting a nice early season break.
Everyone plays during weeks 8 through 11. Then in week 12, the second round of bye weeks start. Once again, two divisions, one from each conference, take the week off during weeks 12 through 15.
Weeks 16, 17 and now 18 wrap up the regular season and lead to wildcard weekend being the same as it always is.
It may seem like a pretty trivial move, but giving players an extra week off could limit the wear and tear an NFL season takes on a player’s body. The hope is that this would lead to a higher level of play throughout the season with players being better rested.
An extra week also gives the league another week of prime time marketing opportunities. An additional, Thursday, Sunday and Monday night football game means another week’s worth of advertising revenue for networks, which means that the relative worth of a television contract increases for the league.
For a league looking to show concern for player safety and find increase revenue, this seems like a solid option on paper.