"We want to do it the right way for everyone, including the players, the fans and the game in general," Goodell said. "There's a tremendous amount of momentum for it. We think it's the right step."
I'm not sure what to think about the NFL's idea of converting two preseason games into regular season games, giving them a total of 18 in the season.
Sure, it sounds good. Fans that would normally pay for two preseason games, enjoy those games converted into regular season games. Well, at least some would, considering that season ticket holders would retain their own regular season seats. Would NFL teams charge more for two preseason games and 18 regular season games? Or would they leave the rate the same? Money, baby. It's the heart of all affections. But who wouldn't like to have more regular season games?
Then you think about it. Does eliminating two meaningless preseason games really matter? Consider that by week 17, a majority of the NFL playoffs are already determined and most teams that have their seeds slotted, possibly putting out a product that's not much better than the preseason. Look at the Bengals every year they've reached the playoffs during the Marvin Lewis era. Against Kansas City in 2005, Carson Palmer was pulled after the first two series on their way to a meaningless 37-3 loss. Against the New York Jets, with a football field turned skating rink, most of the first team offense took the night off at half time due to a 27-0 deficit. In fairness, a win and the Bengals could have clinched the third seed and played the Baltimore Ravens instead of the Jets during the Wild Card weekend. Did they try to make a comeback? No. Week 17 logic, and in some team's cases (see Colts, Indianapolis) week 16 logic, you pull your starters when you can, because a major injury during a meaningless week 17 game could be seen as a bigger disaster than losing someone during the preseason due the playoff implications the following week(s).
True. The dynamic does change with two additional regular season games. The Ravens were breathing down our necks towards the end of the 2009 regular season. And how we were playing with next to little momentum, it's possible that the Bengals would have made the playoffs with a Wild Card berth and not a division crown.
In the AFC last year, seven AFC teams had a shot at the final two Wild Card spots. The Jets and Ravens controlled their own destiny and each won. The Broncos, Texans, Steelers, Dolphins and Jaguars, all either a game over or under .500 heading into the final week, could have made it based on many scenarios. In the NFC all six playoff spots were already clinched, and all that remained was determining where the teams would be seeded after the Saints long ago clinched home field advantage.
Sixteen games would seem like a fair spectrum to determine the playoffs. This is similar to what Carson Palmer said during Mike and Mike in the Morning, basically that the importance of the regular season would slightly diminish. It's the same argument many misguided friends use as to why college football shouldn't have a playoff system.
Then there's compensation with the players. Don't expect existing contracts to be honored when two more regular season games would theoretically be played for free, compared to the current system. What about the NFL records that exist? How many will fall?
I understand with time, things change. And I love change. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have 18 regular season games. Hell, give us 20. Why not 22? But would they be meaningful, or would many fans be forced to watch meaningless games like they would the preseason? Sure, seeds can be swapped and a team that's barely won more games than they lost could slip through the backdoor. Most likely, however, we're talking about a small minority.
If money weren't an object of everyone's affection, would this even be an option? Does this enhance the game, or are those arguing that two extra regular season games would be more meaningful than two preseason games, when in fact, I believe most of the NFL teams would already be eliminated from the playoffs or have their postseason itinerary filled out. Furthermore, how likely are those teams playing must-win meaningful games playing other teams with must-win meaningful games? Would friendly coaches agree that since Team A is already eliminated, that Team B will have an easier time? Alright, so I'm getting conspiratorial. We'll strike that from the debate.
In all honesty, I'm on the fence. Many Bengals players are also. Would the league be better if it went with 18 games, or stuck with 16? If the idea is to limit the preseason games to only two, then eliminate the two and keep the 16 regular season games.
Your turn. What are the benefits of the league going to an 18-game season and would you support it?