Time to change the NFL schedule
OK so everyone is convinced that the NFL pre-season is too long at four games. The players and coaches hate it, the fans hate it, but the owners like the money that the ticket sales bring in. So we have to keep that additional revenue in some way, but how to make everyone happy?

So the simple option is to extend the regular season to 18 games. Sounds easy enough, but there are other implications to consider when making this switch.

The first is the schedule each team would play. You have home and away games inside your own division (6), four games with an inter-conference team (10), and four games with a team from a division in your own conference (14). The other two games are against those teams that finished in the same position as you from the other two conference divisions (16).

To go to an 18-game schedule, you would have to add a second pair of games from inside your own conference. Unless you want to switch divisions (again), you cannot go inter-conference. The only other option would be to junk the finishing position pair of games, and go to four against two of the three conference divisions giving your other eight games.

The USFL played an 18-game season from 1983 to 1985 so it has been done before. But to alieviate burn-out and fatigue, you could throw in a second bye week giving a 20-week NFL season. The TV moguls would love this additional week of scheduling and it would give more flexibility as well as an extra home date for the NFL to allow for international games such as the Saints-Chargers' match-up at Wembley next month.

There are other side effects that would benefit the Buccaneers too. The chances of a team going winless to emulate the 1976 Buccaneers would be lessened, and now the Patriots have shut the 1972 Dolphins up forever about their undefeated regular season, we don't have to consider them.

Paul Stewart, TBO.com, 17 September 2008