NFL 18-Game Schedule – Is It Really Worth It?


The NFL owners meeting in Atlanta could conclude with an 18-game schedule beginning in the 2012 season (pending approval from the NFLPA). For fans, a once far fetched idea has become a very real possibility. For owners it means more revenue as well as more expenses – including expanded rosters . Finally, the players are faced with earlier training camps under more extreme conditions, greater risk for injuries, but there will be increased revenue sharing with the owners.

Who are the winners and losers here?

As a fan I would love to see the season expanded but an 18-game regular season isn’t the way to go. I agree that four preseason is overkill, so why not go with a two game preseason and expand the playoffs.

Why you ask?

In 2008 the New England Patriots went 11-5 and MISSED THE PLAYOFFS. There’s no way that should happen in today’s NFL. If the regular season is expanded by two games with no change in the playoff format, you increase the chances of an 8-10 division winner and a 10-win division runner-up missing out.

The expanded season will lead to increased rosters which will almost certainly increase the salary cap and may also call for additional rounds in the draft. I think it’s about time that a stateside NFL Development League is considered.

One issue that cannot be overlooked is the historical significance of an 18-game season and what it does to the record books. Single-season records like Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 rushing yards and Dan Marino’s 5,084 passing yards will fall by the wayside. Dickerson did have two additional games to break O.J. Simpson’s record of 2,003 (the NFL expanded to 16 games in 1978.) .

The average life span of an NFL player is 3 1/2 seasons while that of a running back is 2.7 seasons (and declining), with the increase of concussions an expanded season will prove disastrous. The NFL will certainly have to improve on its healthcare situation for former players – the NFL for all of its revenue and popularity has THE WORST health benefits for its players. A retired player only has health benefits for the first five years of retirement after that he’s on his own. We already know the well chronicled stories of Johnny Unitas and Mike Webster and how they suffered after their playing days. It’s a story that I’m sure can be told a thousand times over.

One question that I have is will existing contracts be pro-rated for two additional games? I don’t believe the NFLPA will agree to an expanded season, I think the Union is wisely considering health over money. And that’s not a bad thing.

While we will have more games, I think that an 18-game schedule will ruin the parody that exists in a league at the height of its popularity.

17 Responses to “NFL 18-Game Schedule – Is It Really Worth It?”

  1. GrandNubian says:

    @Ron G

    I completely agree. They should nix 2 pre-season games and expand the playoffs. Instead of 6 teams getting in, increase it to 8 and get rid of the 1st round “BYE”.

    Also, just a minor correction: Dickerson actually broke O.J.’s record in 15 games with 2007 yards. However, I understand the point you’re making…..records will eventually be “re-written”. I don’t like it at all. If it aint broke, don’t try to fix it.

  2. […] NFL 18-Game Schedule – Is It Really Worth It? | The Starting Five […]

  3. […] NFL 18-Game Schedule – Is It Really Worth It? | The Starting Five […]

  4. […] NFL 18-Game Schedule – Is It Really Worth It? | The Starting Five […]

  5. JAG says:

    18 truly competitive games are too many if we expect players to remain healthy. I would expand the roster from 53 to 55 and expand the practice squad from 8 to 10+. I would then only allow players to participate in 16 of the 18 regular season games. Ineligible players for a given week would be placed in a “phase B” practice squad and traditional practice squad players could move up for that week and be paid the pro rata league minimum. Granted, this would reward teams that have a deeper bench vs key player talent. But this will be a necessity if you want to preserve the long term (and short term) health of the players.

  6. […] NFL 18-Game Schedule – Is It Really Worth It? | The Starting Five […]

  7. HarveyDent says:

    I hate this idea of 18 games but since I’m losing my love of the NFL I may be biased. That doesn’t mean that the sport isn’t a violent game and two more regular season games played at a high level is going to lead to more broken bodies, stunted careers, and shorter life spans for these guys. The NFL truly is turning into a bloodsport/gladiator league and it won’t surprise me when I see Russell Crowe on the 50 yard line of the Super Bowl screaming, “Are you not entertained!”


  8. Ron Glover says:

    @HD, I’m going to do my best to pull you out of this rut.

    Question: Would it be fair to take the best eight records from each conference.

  9. GrandNubian says:

    Yes….I think that’s fair.

  10. GrandNubian says:

    Hmmm…2-face losing his love for the NFL and my person losing his love for the NBA. Sports just aint what it used to be. 🙂

  11. GrandNubian says:

    Sorry for the thread-jack, but I thought you guys might enjoy reading this:

  12. HarveyDent says:

    RG & GN

    It’s not a rut with me and the NFL just a combination of all the outside stuff that surrounds sport today and the fact that we as the public are learning more and more about the physical toll the sport takes on athletes. I understand that these men make their decisions to live this kind of life but me being a willing fanatic in their slow deaths is drawing to a close.

    That trade in Philly only hastened that process too.

  13. HarveyDent says:

    Props to Pipp

  14. Ron Glover says:

    HD, the trade took more out of me as far as sports in Philadelphia is concerned, the tide is slowly beginning to shift to Ryan Howard.
    GN, KB24 and the new blood in the NBA is keeping me around, other than that they can have it.

    You have to immortalize the dunk over Ewing.

  15. mapoui says:

    harvey dent is absolutely right. football is a ridiculously violent sport, the violence of which ought to be seriously muted or the game eliminated altogether.

    can the physical destruction of football be evolved into super efficient tackling that leaves the players intact?

    can the competitve aspects of the game maintain dominance over gladiatorial aspects?

    can the grand olympian achievements of wide receivers catching outrageous passes, be maintained… in a humanised football?

    and I will bet good money that the owners decide for an 18 game season over the very good sense of internal expansion of the present set up, to accomadate more play-off teams, while eliminating the play-off by-week.

    greed and disbursing of their ‘chattell’ as they see fit is what drives those guys, not concern for the health of the gladiat…er, I mean players!

  16. Burundi says:

    @HD: Gotta cosign on the sheen and luster coming of the sport for me, as well. Donnie Mac’s (Aaron Brooks, Doug Williams, etc.) treatment, as well as others, coupled with the carnage is letting the wind out of the sails. Additionally, for me, it was New England’s (Patriot Act Era) run, rife nonexistent holding calls against their O-Line and a now nauseating glorified system-qb, that helped break the NFL’s hold over me. College football still has me somewhat enthralled. Your points were well taken.

  17. Matthew Fudge says:

    I totally disagree with this. It’s simply not worth the extra money. The players already risk their lives playing football. This isn’t helping. At all.