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  • Contributors


    Cris Collinsworth

    Former Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals and Emmy-winning analyst from Sunday Night Football and Inside the NFL.
    Dave Lapham
    Has called game for the Bengals radio network for 25 years. Analyst for Big 12 games on Fox Sports Net. Played 10 years in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals.
    Turk Schonert
    NFL quarterback for 10 years with the Bengals and Falcons. Has served as quarterback coach for the Buccaneers, Bills, Panthers, Giants and Saints and Offensive Coordinator for the Bills.
    Phil McConkey
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    Josina "JoJo" Anderson is contributing reporter on Showtime's Inside the NFL and is a weekend co-anchor/reporter/producer for FOX 31 Sports in Denver, Colorado. Josina produces the nightly sportscasts and covers the Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and the Colorado Rockies.
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  • How many games make a season?

    There was some talk that the NFL was making plans for an 8-game season. I think that was probably a bit overblown. They have probably made contingency plans for a season of any length, down to 8 games. But it did get me thinking, at what point should they just cancel the season and start fresh next year?

    We'll start with the 'all is forgiven' total. At what point would you write off the off-season bickering and consider this a full season? Obviously there are some that will say that if the NFL plays fewer than 16 games they will never watch football again, but if we end up with 14 or 15 games I think most would be pretty forgiving. For me, the drop dead number for a 'real' season would be 12 games. Why? I don't know. Completely arbitrary.

    Next we have the 'we'll take it, but not happily' total. At what point would you tell the NFL not to bother? I would say 8 games. An 8 game season would be an aberration, but at least it would keep the NFL from having a lost year and would create some sense of normalcy heading into 2012.

    So what happens if an agreement is reached in December? Too late to play, too early to go home. How would you react to a March Madness style, 5-week single elimination tournament? The NFL is set up perfectly for such a thing. The first 2 weeks would be division games, then 2 weeks of conference games, then a Super Bowl. Would it be too late, or is a little football better than none?

    Comments 18 Comments
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      1, provided the Packers win it. Best two out of 3 if they don't.

      I agree the whole "The NFL is planning an 8 game season" nonsense was blown out of proportion. Of course they have an 8 game plan. They have plans for most everything.

      That said, 9 games seems to be the least amount that could still work without giving us a fluke champion. That gives you time to play each divisional foe twice, plus each conference opponent who finished in your spot last year. For example, the Packers would play the Bears, Vikings and Lions twice, plus the Saints, Giants and Rams.

      I'm not sure what the break down would be for 8 games.. Would teams play each divisional opponent twice plus the NFC and AFC opponent in the respective divisions you're supposed to play based on last seasons standings? For example, would the Packers play their divisional foes twice, plus the Saints and then the Chargers? I suppose that could work, and would give enough criteria to settle tie breakers and such..
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      I think for me the big issue would be how realistic the season was in determining playoff seedings. The NFL could easily do a 12 game season and fairly determine playoff seedings (just get rid of the 4 interconference games) each team plays.

      Reducing that number to 8 makes it a little tougher to determine playoff seedings, IMO. But they could possibly do it. If you reduce the division games from 6 to 3, then the team that has 2 home division games has a slight advantage in determining division champion. If you reduce that to 4 games, then a team might have a slight advantage in winning the division, because they get to play a bad team twice and the other teams in the division once. So from a meaningful season standpoint, you probably have to keep the 6 division games, and maybe redo the playoffs with an 8 team playoff (top 2 from each dviision)
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      So what happens if an agreement is reached in December? Too late to play, too early to go home. How would you react to a March Madness style, 5-week single elimination tournament? The NFL is set up perfectly for such a thing. The first 2 weeks would be division games, then 2 weeks of conference games, then a Super Bowl. Would it be too late, or is a little football better than none?
      Single elimination sounds great, except for the teams that don't get to play the next week. One of the great things about the NFL is the "any given Sunday" nature of it, that even a bad team with a rookie QB can beat a playoff team any given week (Tampa Bay vs Green Bay in 09 for example).

      Mathematically, I think the minimum for a serviceable tie breaking system would be 10 games. 6 games inside your division, and 4 games against the same interdivision rivals. To assure clean tiebreakers, the interdivision rivals would have to be of the same conference.

      For example
      N plays S and W plays E
      The WC will come out of the third best team in each pairing.

      I think that would be the minimum "fair" schedule. Going down as low as 8 is possible, but you'd see a scen straight out of Baseketball

      Dan Patrick: With the first nine months of the Baseketball postseason out of the way, the playoff picture is starting to emerge.
      Kenny Mayne: So, with last night's victory over Boston, next week the Milwaukee Beers must beat Indianapolis in order to advance to Charlotte. That's in an effort to reduce their magic number to three.
      Dan Patrick: Right, and then the Beers can advance to the National Eastern Division North to play Tampa.
      Kenny Mayne: So, if the Beers beat Detroit and Denver beats Atlanta in the American Southwestern Division East Northern, then Milwaukee goes to the Denslow Cup, unless Baltimore can upset Buffalo and Charlotte ties Toronto, then Oakland would play LA and Pittsburgh in a blind choice round robin. And if no clear winner emerges from all of this, a two-man sack race will be held on consecutive Sundays until a champion can be crowned.
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      Any football would be better than no football. In '82 they played 8 games and had a "Superbowl Tournament" or some such thing. It was great till the Bengals lost their first round game against the Jets and their Sack Exchange. If they don't play until December, a single-elimination tournament would be better nothing at all and might actually be pretty exciting. Is there any talk of pushing the Superbowl date back if the season is delayed? If they move it to, say, mid-March all the road construction around Indy might be finished and the possibility of crippling ice storms will have receded ever so slightly
    1. Dave Lapham's Avatar
      Goodell has said the NFL has contingencies for contingencies. I think this is where the 8 game season talk came from. In 1982 we played a 9 game season after a strike and the playoff teams were seeded by overall record. No division champs, wild cards, etc. A tie-breaker system of some sort has to be in place. In keeping with the first tie-breaker being division record, which makes sense because each team plays division opponents twice...the NFL could play a 6 game season, all division opponents. You sure would much rather compete in the AFC or NFC West wouldn't you? How would teams that have a whole new coaching staff or teams playing QBs new to its system do? Talk about an uphill climb. Cleveland and Cincinnati with new coaches and young, inexperienced QBs going vs. the Steelers and Ravens? Carolina having to face the Saints, Falcons and Bucs twice? The list of experience and continuity mismatches goes on and on in a shortened season of division games only. I am with you Andy a 12 game season has the right feel to it if some are missed. My minimum feels like 10, a season of less than 10 games feels like a youth football season. The NFL could eliminate by weeks if games are missed. It could play the Super Bowl the week after the conference championship games. There is a plan in place for the Super Bowl to be played a week later if necessary as well. I agree the NFL would look at a missed season as a travesty.
    1. Russell S Baxter's Avatar
      I'm also on board with a 12-game season, hopefully keeping the 6 games within the division...That way you could keep the current playoff format (although the tiebreaker situation could be comical)...If this is the case, that Week 17 (or whatever it would be) slate of all games within the division could be even more interesting...
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Ironic that in a year when the NFL is contemplating an 18 game season, they'd settle for an 8 game season.
    1. Jerry Jones's Avatar
      Should the NFL season be shortened, there would appear to be no way to drop certain parts of the schedule such as intra- or inter- division portions.
      The 2011 NFL schedule is already in print with the dates, times and sites already set. There would be tremendous difficulties creating new arrangements.
      If the NFL had a fixed system that had all division teams doing the same thing every week, such a thing would be possible. If, for example, each division played their two standings-based games on the same week and also matched up on the inter- and intra-conference and the division weeks, it could be done. Unfortunately, the 2011 schedule does not fit this plan.
      A small example from the AFC North:
      BYE WEEKS
      Baltimore – 5
      Cincinnati – 7
      Cleveland – 5
      Pittsburgh - 11
      INTER-CONFERENCE (AFC VS. NFC) WEEKS
      Baltimore – 3, 8, 10, 12
      Cincinnati – 3, 8, 15, 16
      Cleveland – 7, 8, 10, 15
      Pittsburgh – 2, 7, 15, 16
      Other segments of the schedules are similarly mismatched.

      The bottom line if they miss games scheduled in the regular season-
      They will just have to start playing from where they are on the calendar. It would not be an equal situation.
      The only possible out would be to try to reschedule the games later in an extended season.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Jones View Post
      Should the NFL season be shortened, there would appear to be no way to drop certain parts of the schedule such as intra- or inter- division portions.
      The 2011 NFL schedule is already in print with the dates, times and sites already set. There would be tremendous difficulties creating new arrangements.
      If the NFL had a fixed system that had all division teams doing the same thing every week, such a thing would be possible. If, for example, each division played their two standings-based games on the same week and also matched up on the inter- and intra-conference and the division weeks, it could be done. Unfortunately, the 2011 schedule does not fit this plan.
      A small example from the AFC North:
      BYE WEEKS
      Baltimore – 5
      Cincinnati – 7
      Cleveland – 5
      Pittsburgh - 11
      INTER-CONFERENCE (AFC VS. NFC) WEEKS
      Baltimore – 3, 8, 10, 12
      Cincinnati – 3, 8, 15, 16
      Cleveland – 7, 8, 10, 15
      Pittsburgh – 2, 7, 15, 16
      Other segments of the schedules are similarly mismatched.

      The bottom line if they miss games scheduled in the regular season-
      They will just have to start playing from where they are on the calendar. It would not be an equal situation.
      The only possible out would be to try to reschedule the games later in an extended season.
      I don't know the commitments that go into NFL scheduling, or in the case of a strike shortened season, NFL rescheduling of games. So I would like a better understanding of the difficulties. What are the limitations put into place that prevent NFL rescheduling? I imagine some issues is that the stadium is in use when the teams are away. So you have to work around that. And you also have ticket holders who make plans based on when their team is at home. Other than that, what are the difficulties? Have the 2011 tickets been printed and sent out already? If so, I imagine that is an additional difficulty.

      In the case of season ticket holders, I imagine NFL owners could just make those tickets fully refundable.
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      No way can it be played as the schedule states if games are missed. They would have to re do the schedules at that point. Not that I would argue if it happened. Pittsburgh would get to skip the away game with Baltimore and playing indy. It would destroy parity in the divisions. Pitt and bmore would be guaranteed playoff spots almost w the winner of their one head to head game winning the division. Here's hoping cooler heads prevail and no games are missed and this thread was just a good way to keep us football junkies occupied while there was no real football news to keep us occupied!!
    1. Polishguy00's Avatar
      I don't know what this game football is that you talk about; but, in baseball, a game is official after either 4.5 or five innings. So after five innings, I say, or 9.44 weeks of a NFL schedule. The late games would have to be skipped in week 10, sorry West Coast. You get good weather and bikini babes all year. Us Easterns have to find a way to be turned on by parkas. Parkas! That would help with tie-breakers since some teams would have less games played. Sorry you missed out since you played 10 and another team played 9. You should have scheduled your bye week later, Champ.



      My real answer is 10 and only b/c of even # H/A games needed. MY ultimate need is 9 or one game past half for all.
    1. Cris Collinsworth's Avatar
      Does the NFL work like the government, do they send up trial balloons to test the water on an 8 game schedule, or to soften the blow if it comes to be?
    1. FrzzerBwler's Avatar
      Every year it seems fans and commentators talk about how sloppy Week 1 and Week 2 games are. And that's w/ mini camps and full training camp.
      If the season doesn't start till say late Oct just how bad will the play be?
      If there is a 8 or 10 game season will there even be a preseason game?
      If there are not any "practice games" will any coaches have hair left when the season starts?
      Or will we see 32 "Hoodies" covering chrome domes on the sidelines? Ok 31, Rex wouldn't care.
      Just be sure to give him his GD snack!
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      Awesome talking point Andy. I think I would be happy with the season being at least 7 games. This can still be a competitive season and make fans happy. Unfortunately, this could take us to St. Patty's Day 2012 when they will play the Super Bowl!
    1. amerigoV's Avatar
      Greetings! I am new to the site - very interesting stuff around here!

      Maybe this is better in its own thread, but if games are missed, I am really curious how that impacts the league's ratings going forward. The area in particular I have not seen much comment on is what portion of the TV rates hang on the Fantasy Football Fan (FFF). I have read one article that did show in recent years that Sunday night and Monday night game have much less viewer dropoff during blowouts, postulating that FFF might be propping the ratings up (in hopes their 3rd WR scores 2 TDs ). The article was awhile back or I would post it. I would love to see some hard data in that area.

      The key is: at what point was the FFF ditch the NFL and use college for their league? It certainly is more scalable with college. If a league with just a couple of your buds, just pick one conference. If you got a ton of people, add in all the Bowl Championship conferences. We all know people that love their fantasy team more than their regular team (especially if you are a fan of a perennial <.500 team). Could some of that precious $9B if some of the FFF switch over and never come back (never deny an addict their drug - they will find a new one).
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      I thought they already had fantasy football for NCAA?
    1. amerigoV's Avatar
      They probably do (I only did FF once and it was linked to NFL) - but if NCAA is all that is available at the start of the season due to the labor strife, will that have any lasting impact?
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by amerigoV View Post
      They probably do (I only did FF once and it was linked to NFL) - but if NCAA is all that is available at the start of the season due to the labor strife, will that have any lasting impact?
      Not sure what you mean by lasting impact, but the NCAA won't try and compete with the NFL in terms of ratings. They'll continue to play on Saturdays and the NFL will play on Sundays.