PDA

View Full Version : Is the schedule biased?



williwonte
07-18-2010, 09:58 PM
The "who plays who" is decided immediately after the Superbowl. However, the schedule from that point is a mystery. Who decides the when? The bias that this allows is appalling. The advantage to "snow teams" in December. The advantage to "hot, humid" teams in September (think big D line). Who decides when a team travels and when they don't. What influence do the networks have, given the schedule and their contracts? Do the NFL schedulers have a biased agenda?

cobber66
07-18-2010, 10:16 PM
The schedule is based on a system that tries to promote parity. At the end of the regular season teams will know all their opponents (6 divisional games, 4 games against another intraconference division (rotating every year), 4 games against teams from a division in the other conference (also rotating every year), and two more games against the teams in the same conference that finished in the same position in their respective divisions, and are not in the division that the team is already playing against. This is why you see the Patriots and Colts play almost every year, for example (they almost always finish first in their divisions). I think the schedule is as balanced as the NFL can make it; any two teams in the same division will play each other twice and have 12 other common opponents. Which you already know, but I'm just pointing out how balanced it is.

Beyond that, I think the NFL does work with the networks (Cris and the guys might know more about this) to get big games every week that they can showcase, and sometimes this hurts teams that were successful the previous year (more short weeks). I think in general they try not to give teams more than two consecutive home or two consecutive road games (though it does happen from time to time). I really don't see bias in how the scheduling is done; obviously some teams are going to catch tough breaks, and others will have it easier. But in general it seems like the teams that finished poorly the previous year have more scheduling advantages than those that finished near the top. Again, this is done to promote parity.

Andy Freeland
07-18-2010, 10:37 PM
I realize that there is some competitive advantage to a cold weather team playing at home in December and a hot weather team playing in September, but I don't consider that a bias. The Bears have to play home games in December, the Cards have to play home games in September. I think it would be more of a bias to say certain teams don't ever have to play in cold weather while others do. I personally don't see any bias, can you give an example?

And while the networks do make requests (I don't know anything about the process), the NFL has the final say.

Arshvender
07-18-2010, 11:18 PM
The schedule is completely unbiased in my mind, and I don't think there is anyone getting a specific competitive advantage at all. All teams have 8 home games and 8 road games, I don't think any one team is favored in the process.

TheLinc
07-18-2010, 11:36 PM
I imagine this conversation will be much more interesting in a couple years when teams are traveling to London and Madrid more frequently.

DannyMilk
07-19-2010, 01:15 AM
They have a couple matchups every year it seems no matter which division they are playing i.e. Chargers Colts, Pats Colts, etc...idk, I don't think there's anything fishy going on or anything like that. You still have to play the games at the end of the day.

GoBigOrGoHome
07-19-2010, 01:46 AM
They are selling a product. If you've ever worked in sales you know that the first thing people buy is the salesman. The NFL has been very shrewd when it comes to booking games. Of course they weight the schedule in favor of the good/popular teams. I hate to bag on my team but, are any of you tuning in to an SNF tilt featuring The Lions V. The Rams? Unless you have Jackson as your starting RB in FF or it is Bradford's first start? Megatron? If not, then no.

There is a reason that crappy teams do not get SNF/MNF/NFLN games -- most regular non-football-freak people don't watch them.

Tinindian
07-19-2010, 06:36 AM
Yeah, I don't think there is any bias to the schedule. Sometimes you get an easy one sometimes you get a hard one. I think the league does a pretty fair job in this.

BearThruThickNThin
07-19-2010, 09:24 AM
I'm not so concerned about when the home and road games are scheduled. I am more interested in how they are scheduled. For instance, last year the Bears played the NFC West and the AFC North. The NFC West home games were Arizona and St. Louis, while the road games were Seattle and San Francisco. The AFC North home games were Pittsburgh and Cleveland, while the road games were Cincy and Baltimore.

The Vikings, the eventual division champs, played Baltimore and Cincinnati at home, while playing Cleveland and Pittsburgh on the road. They played San Francisco and Seattle at home, while playing St. Louis and Arizona on the road.

The Bears had to "waste" home games against the St. Louis and Cleveland, while the Vikings won close home games against good teams in Cincinnati, Baltimore, and San Francisco. The Bears lost the corresponding road games. The Bears did edge Pittsburgh at home while the Vikings lost that road game.

Each year when I look at the schedule one of the keys I look for is "wasted" home games, games that should be won regardless of where they are played. I guess it evens out though, because I really don't see any such games this year. The Bears have the Seahawks and Redskins at home, but those aren't automatic road wins by any stretch; and they do get to play the Bills in Toronto.

Andy Freeland
07-19-2010, 09:28 AM
They have a couple matchups every year it seems no matter which division they are playing i.e. Chargers Colts, Pats Colts, etc...idk, I don't think there's anything fishy going on or anything like that. You still have to play the games at the end of the day.

The Patriots and Colts have played every year since 1970 except 2002, which does seem fishy but there is a legitimate reason. Of course they were in the same division from '70 through '01. They didn't play in '02, the first year of realignment, I'm not completely sure how they did the schedule that year. From '03-present they have played every year because they have finished in the same place in the division every single year. They were both in first place every year except '08 when they were both in 2nd.

If they ever went off-schedule to create a specific match-up, someone would notice and it would become a huge deal.

Kosar19
07-19-2010, 09:46 AM
All I can say is if you, or anyone you know, has had to try and make up a schedule for work (my wife used to do this for nurses in a unit) then you realize how difficult it would be to actually commit acts of bias. You have certain minimum requirements that have to be met, and a time frame to squeeze it into. I'm sure there is more than one person working on it which actually complicates the process. I just think they would have to try too hard to play with the locations and make it favorable one way or the other.

GoBigOrGoHome
07-19-2010, 11:07 AM
All I can say is if you, or anyone you know, has had to try and make up a schedule for work (my wife used to do this for nurses in a unit) then you realize how difficult it would be to actually commit acts of bias. You have certain minimum requirements that have to be met, and a time frame to squeeze it into. I'm sure there is more than one person working on it which actually complicates the process. I just think they would have to try too hard to play with the locations and make it favorable one way or the other.

To expand on this a little I'll start by saying that I concur fully that writing a schedule that accomodates the needs of everybody is a cast-iron *****. That said, one of the most important concepts that schedulers must embrace is this: Aces in Their Places. You have to have your best people in the spot where they can have the biggest and most positive impact on your business.

Why do we see Colts v. Patriots nearly every year despite the fact that they are non-divisional opponents? It is because when those two teams play, the ratings dial goes up considerably.

Fixing the schedule to insure the continued revenue stream provided by TV dollars is a neccesity. It's the gas in the engine.

Bengals1181
07-19-2010, 01:02 PM
well when the schedule gets delayed weeks because of the Roethlisberger situation and the stealers start with a bunch of easy games....

GBPKS
07-19-2010, 01:24 PM
I think the schedule is so difficult to put together that there are going to always be some unintended consequences (like 3-game road trips or weird travel patterns for West Coast teams). Certainly, the NFL is going to work with its television partners to spread out the really juicy games and make sure everyone gets a piece (i.e. Fox is going to get one of the Favre vs. Packer games).

It does look a little fishy when the Vikings and their elderly quarterback only have one outdoor cold weather game in back-to-back second halves of the season.

williwonte
07-19-2010, 01:27 PM
I guess I did not make myself clear. Who they play is set by the previous years results and the rotation. I have issue with how do they decide when two teams scheduled to meet will meet. Who decides which day and what time? Who decides who gives up a home game to play overseas? Why do western teams go East and play in early games? All the points made by early contributors not withstanding, someone works out a schedule. There are also network contracts that are in play. But has anybody checked for equity?

ncoolong
07-19-2010, 01:43 PM
The Patriots and Colts have played every year since 1970 except 2002, which does seem fishy but there is a legitimate reason. Of course they were in the same division from '70 through '01. They didn't play in '02, the first year of realignment, I'm not completely sure how they did the schedule that year. From '03-present they have played every year because they have finished in the same place in the division every single year. They were both in first place every year except '08 when they were both in 2nd.

If they ever went off-schedule to create a specific match-up, someone would notice and it would become a huge deal.

Yeah, I mean, their schedule process is the most transparent in all of sports. It's set in stone to the point where each team knows now who they're playing in 14 of their 16 games. The remaining two are only decided by where each team finishes in each division, and that's not exactly something the league can rig - and even if it did, what is it gaining? Odds are you'll play an evenly matched franchise within your conference once every two years at minimum. They're looking to develop rivalries and maintain other rivalries at the same time, and they do a pretty damn good job of it.

ncoolong
07-19-2010, 01:46 PM
I think the schedule is so difficult to put together that there are going to always be some unintended consequences (like 3-game road trips or weird travel patterns for West Coast teams). Certainly, the NFL is going to work with its television partners to spread out the really juicy games and make sure everyone gets a piece (i.e. Fox is going to get one of the Favre vs. Packer games).

It does look a little fishy when the Vikings and their elderly quarterback only have one outdoor cold weather game in back-to-back second halves of the season.

Therein lies the challenge...I'm sure no one posting without the name Collinsworth has any real insight to the entire political process of hammering out times and networks, but the sites are pretty much set in stone (barring hurricanes and the like).

I know Baltimore cried afoul a few years ago, having to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh in primetime two years in a row (Steelers throttled them both times), so last year's game in Baltimore was primetime, and I believe it is this year as well.

I think it's really just determined by a case-by-case basis, but the teams/game needs to be marketable. They don't just put the Rams on primetime cuz they haven't been on in five years (or whatever it is).

FessJL0861
07-19-2010, 02:21 PM
I imagine this conversation will be much more interesting in a couple years when teams are traveling to London and Madrid more frequently.

Completely. I could not BE MORE against the globalization of games. I can understand it is rooted in financial's (there is that word again), but...

Cris Collinsworth
07-19-2010, 02:26 PM
The remaining two games I am a little fuzzy on too. It can't be just coincidence that NE and Indy play every year. Maybe it is because they have finished first in their division year after year, but it is more likely because it is the best game every year. If that is the case, the fact they don't get a weaker team to play does hurt those two. I really am asking, I don't know the answer.

brauneyz
07-19-2010, 02:45 PM
Yeah, but none of this addresses the when and where. Let's take the Pats/Colts situation, since they do meet virtually every year. In the past decade, have half the games been played in NE & half in Indy? When during the year does that great matchup take place? If NE wins it one year, is the next year played in the dome? Vice versa, from dome to frozen tundra. Is that game, always a huge TV draw, saved for the slower part of the season to draw back in the casual fan?

Let's face it. We're all starved right now and will watch whatever game the NFL opens with on that Thurs. in Sept. Same for Dec. as playoffs loom. What about those games scheduled from Halloween to Turkey Day?

Lastly, there's no way something as important as scheduling is scratched out by hand by some guy behind a curtain. There's clearly some algorithm used that incorporates the top criteria that must be met; who meets who based on prior year's standing and equal # of games home and away. For the integrity of the game, I sure hope the rest is randomly computer generated.

The network broadcasting of games is a whole 'nuther beast and certainly revolves around $.

FessJL0861
07-19-2010, 02:47 PM
a whole 'nuther beast and certainly revolves around $.


is rooted in financial's (there is that word again), but...

You are right as rain.

Andy Freeland
07-19-2010, 03:12 PM
The remaining two games I am a little fuzzy on too. It can't be just coincidence that NE and Indy play every year. Maybe it is because they have finished first in their division year after year, but it is more likely because it is the best game every year. If that is the case, the fact they don't get a weaker team to play does hurt those two. I really am asking, I don't know the answer.

It is completely legit and above board. Every team plays every other team in their conference that finished in the same place the year before (i.e. 1st place teams play the other three 1st place teams, 2nd place play the other three 2nd place, etc). The Colts and Pats have both finished 1st every year since realignment ('02) except '08 when they both finished 2nd. I will put this out as a challenge, anyone can pick any game since '03 and I will show you that it fits the scheduling formula.

brauneyz brings up a great point, and the only part about the scheduling I don't understand. Of the 2 'place' games, one is home and one is away, but I don't know how it's determined which is which. I'm sure there's a formula, but I don't know what it is.

Bengals1181
07-19-2010, 03:12 PM
The remaining two games I am a little fuzzy on too. It can't be just coincidence that NE and Indy play every year. Maybe it is because they have finished first in their division year after year, but it is more likely because it is the best game every year. If that is the case, the fact they don't get a weaker team to play does hurt those two. I really am asking, I don't know the answer.


as far as the scheduling rules go, its because they've finished in the same place in their respective divisions so often.

GoBigOrGoHome
07-19-2010, 03:20 PM
Assuming all the info posted on this thread regarding the way the schedule is made is accurate, maybe we all need to give kudos to the NFL for developing a scheduling model that will never give us Lions v. Rams on Sunday Night Football and opts instead for Colts v. Pats or Vikings v. Saints. Just sayin'!

DannyMilk
07-19-2010, 03:32 PM
what about the Thanksgiving games...are those specially scheduled or all the appropriate conference games each year too?

GoBigOrGoHome
07-19-2010, 03:38 PM
This year the Lions get an AFC team so CBS has a game and the Cowboys get an NFC team so FOX has a game. Next year the Lions get an NFC team and the 'Boys get the AFC matchup. The actual teams selected, I assume, are determined by the overall scheduling system (rotating divisions and all that). I have no clue how the NFLN Turkey Day game is picked.

DannyMilk
07-19-2010, 03:47 PM
Gotchya...yeah I was just curious...same as with Europe games or overseas games that are gonna become more common I think

GoBigOrGoHome
07-19-2010, 03:53 PM
If you look at the Thanksgiving game's history in Detroit, you will notice that we get either divisional matchups or a marquee team from the rotating division of the conference we are playing that year (the Patriots are making their third Turkey Day visit to the 'D' in 11 seasons this year).

Translation -- If your team's division has the NFC North on its schedule and is a playoff team, your guys may get stuck playing on Thanksgiving against the Lions.

The turnaround to play a game with only three days to prepare is brutal. But the quiet bonus of playing on Thanksgiving is that you get a 'mini-bye week' afterwards. I think if you look at the following week's records of good teams that play on the holiday, you would find similar win % to bye-weeks.

DannyMilk
07-19-2010, 03:54 PM
Yeah, it seemed like the Bears used to play a lot on Turkey Day, but now they never do...it stinks, I miss those games.

GoBigOrGoHome
07-19-2010, 04:06 PM
Some of my best childhood holiday memories occurred while watching Lions/Bears or Lions/Packers games in front of the tube with my extended family on Thanksgiving.

We haven't had the Bears over for a holiday visit since 1999. We've had the Pack over 4 times since 2000. Friggin' Favre. You know TV is why the Pack got the nod over the Bears/Vikings (who also have not been over this century). You watch. If there is any indication he's coming back in 2011, it will be Lions v. Friggin' Favre on Turkey Day. I hate that guy.

crustycrab
07-19-2010, 05:39 PM
Vegas has as much to do with making the schedule as the nfl does, otherwise they get their clocks cleaned. All pro and college teams have highs and lows thruout the season, and the traveling that these teams do plays a big part in it. It does'nt matter how much $ these players earn, they can not perform 100% of the time for 16 weeks. And to create parity they manufacture trap games to give weaker teams a better chance. When a team plays allot of prime time night games, the day games become less important unless against a division opponent or other rival. I go to vegas every weekend during the season and most of my studying is done this time of year. Once that schedule comes out I'm busy.

Colts01
07-19-2010, 05:45 PM
They have a couple matchups every year it seems no matter which division they are playing i.e. Chargers Colts, Pats Colts, etc...idk, I don't think there's anything fishy going on or anything like that. You still have to play the games at the end of the day.

yes yes and yes

williwonte
07-19-2010, 07:28 PM
Now the issues start to clarify. We all agree it is difficult to make a schedule. By the way, how are the Bye weeks scheduled? Who needs one early. Teams with older players benefit the most with later Byes. Since we all know the problems, why not make it more transparent. They should release the method used to put out the schedule. It may seem like a small point, but ???

Andy Freeland
07-19-2010, 07:51 PM
Don't really know how byes are scheduled, I would hope it's random. I just charted all the byes for this year and couldn't find any pattern. I do know that before the Browns rejoined the league and there were 31 teams, therefore a bye every week, the week 1 bye would always go to one of the worst teams. I might try to chart all the byes since realignment, see if there's any pattern.

TheLinc
07-19-2010, 11:29 PM
Don't really know how byes are scheduled, I would hope it's random. I just charted all the byes for this year and couldn't find any pattern. I do know that before the Browns rejoined the league and there were 31 teams, therefore a bye every week, the week 1 bye would always go to one of the worst teams. I might try to chart all the byes since realignment, see if there's any pattern.


They're plotted according the Goodell's fantasy league and his match-ups. Main reason why he insists everyone draft their teams in March.

Kosar19
07-19-2010, 11:37 PM
I know starting this year there is more of an emphasis to put divisional game at the end of the year. They're doing this to try and make the games more meaningful and not have a situation where a team is say, I don't know, 14-0 and decides to rest all their players the last two games.

TheLinc
07-19-2010, 11:53 PM
I know starting this year there is more of an emphasis to put divisional game at the end of the year. They're doing this to try and make the games more meaningful and not have a situation where a team is say, I don't know, 14-0 and decides to rest all their players the last two games.

As a fan I appreciate the league trying to do that, but as an Eagles fan I would like the league to remain out of it and let the teams pick their own strategies.

GBPKS
07-20-2010, 09:38 AM
Therein lies the challenge...I'm sure no one posting without the name Collinsworth has any real insight to the entire political process of hammering out times and networks, but the sites are pretty much set in stone (barring hurricanes and the like).

I know Baltimore cried afoul a few years ago, having to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh in primetime two years in a row (Steelers throttled them both times), so last year's game in Baltimore was primetime, and I believe it is this year as well.

I think it's really just determined by a case-by-case basis, but the teams/game needs to be marketable. They don't just put the Rams on primetime cuz they haven't been on in five years (or whatever it is).

Sites are set in stone but not dates - I think NFL scheduling has gotten a lot easier now that there are much fewer multi-use or shared stadiums out there. I assume one of the first things the NFL has to figure out is which New York team is going to be at home each week.

Every year, there are a handful of premier games that have to be allocated across the various networks. With the advent of Thursday games late in the season, that's yet another variable to consider...