You have to go back to 1978 to find the season when the number of games played over the course of an NFL campaign was last changed. Back then, the season went from fourteen fixtures to sixteen. But now, forty-three years later, the NFL will run for eighteen weeks, and seventeen games will now take place.
In March last year, the NFL owners agreed on a fresh collective bargaining agreement, known as a CBA. It not only made the decision to extend the season to seventeen games, but it also means this will be the case for the next eight years, as the CBA will run until 2030.
To make way for what is, this season, an extra fixture, the preseason schedule was changed. Instead of teams playing four games, they instead played three, and there was still a bye available for each side during the regular campaign. So, you could suggest that the switch up in the preseason makes the extra game one that teams can more than handle, with the schedule not really that much out of sync with the norm.A positive of the NFL and its scheduling has always been its symmetry, and naturally, a lot of this has gone out of the window this season, so there have been frustrations from some. It’s understandable, too. And there are suggestions that adding the extra fixture is nothing more than a cash grab.
So, how will this affect teams, players and others? The reality is, playing an extra fixture can lead to further injuries and fatigue. Which, at the business end of the season as the playoffs approach, isn’t a good thing. But many fans will tell you it’s a case of the more football, the better for them, which makes sense.
Something else that many feel will become apparent is that it could be the top teams who suffer on the field where results are concerned. For example, you can rewind to a point where the Arizona Cardinals were undefeated. The Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers only had one reverse to their names. But what’s happened since? Yes, they all suffered unexpected losses.
And it’s not just teams and players who could suffer due to the extra fixture. The NFL betting odds have naturally been affected as a result. The surprise defeats and so on have shaken up the market. And this will continue to be the case as we head towards the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
However, it is worth noting that this is the inaugural season where there are now seventeen fixtures in the regular campaign instead of the traditional sixteen. There will always be teething problems and the need for adjustments. And, because the CBA is set to run until 2030, things will improve and become seamless as time goes on before seventeen fixtures become the norm.