According to ESPN, Week 17 games in 2010 will feature solely divisional games. In the AFC North, that means someone will "luck out" and play the Browns in what may be a crucial week for one or more AFC North teams to make the playoffs. That also means the game that doesn't involve the Browns may be a playoff game that decides who will win the AFC North. Bengals-Ravens, Ravens-Steelers, or Bengals-Steelers... talk about a ratings booster for Mr. Goodell's sporting league.
Goodell reminded hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic that in a previous appearance on the show, he said he intended to push as many division games as possible into the last three weeks of the season.
"We actually have 28 divisional games in those last three weeks, as opposed to 15 for the 2009 season, and all 16 of the final Week 17 games will be divisional games," Goodell said on "Mike & Mike in the Morning."
"Whatever. He doesn’t play football. ...(cont.) Always trying to find ways to make it harder on yourself. Nobody wants to play a division team in the last game of the season."
Hopefully at that point the Bengals are resting starters and the game is not a must-win. But imagine if it is? With the Bengals' already daunting schedule, this tidbit may make things a little tougher. Consideration of where to place division games is actually what caused the delay in the first place, according to the ESPN article. Goodell defended the decision as "keeping the integrity of the game in those late-season games," which makes sense considering the prevalence of resting starters in late weeks.
"If this doesn't have the kind of impact we want, we're going to find three or four other things to try to have the same kind of outcome ... but it is a difficult issue."