With the NFL apparently barrelling down to an 18-game season (bad idea), now the thinking is how they should schedule those extra two games. Who should they play? How will it work?
The first idea makes the most sense. However, I like my final idea a lot more.
KEEP THE SCHEDULE SOMEWHAT THE SAME: Right now, a team plays the other teams in their division twice (6 games), one complete division in their conference (4 games), one complete division in the other conference (4 more) and the two teams in their conference that finished in the same order in their division standings (2).
It would make sense to just schedule the teams in the other divisions that are near your standings. Dallas finished 1st in the NFC East. So they play the entire NFC North this year and the entire AFC South ... as well as the first place teams in the NFC South (Saints) and NFC West (Cardinals).
With my thinking, the Cowboys should have to also play the 2nd place teams in the NFC South and NFC West. So all 1st and 2nd place teams should face off against each other while the 3rd and 4th place teams do the same. Seems fair, right?
Or you can be a little more fair and make the division champ schedule the 1st place team in the other divisions AND the 4th place team. You get the best and worst ... while the 2nd and 3rd place teams get each other. Sounds like making the schedule a tad more fair, right?
Well, let's get unfair and a bit more fun.
SCHEDULE RIVALRIES: I'd love to see this. Screw having the schedule fair. It used to not be very fair so it isn't like we're going to something totally alien to the NFL.
Schedule natural rivalries. Have everyone play someone else in the other conference every year.
Have the Cowboys-Texans game every year. Redskins-Ravens. Giants-Jets. Eagles-Steelers. Buccaneers-Dolphins. Niners-Raiders. Rams-Chiefs.
Other ones that make sense are Bears-Colts. Lions-Bills (especially if the team moves to Toronto). Panthers-Titans. Falcons-Jaguars. Cardinals-Chargers. Seahawks-Broncos.
Some won't make sense. The Packers, Vikings, Saints, Patriots, Bengals and Browns don't have a natural cross-conference rivalry. Figure out some rotation between those six or just force a "rivalry" down their throat (Pats-Saints? Bengals-Vikings? Browns-Packers?).
That would mean that everyone would play 5 non-conference games. So where is the 13th conference game?
Just figure one out. Don't pre-ordain it. If the Colts and Patriots happen to not play one year, schedule them. Maybe there is a key trade or free agent move and you'd like to see if you could schedule them to play against their old team. Think LaDainian Tomlinson wouldn't want a crack at the Chargers?