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Possibilities for the 17th game

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With the potential of having up to 8 London games each year, the NFL could have incentive to sell these games as a separate TV package with the idea of all of them being played at 9:30 AM ET (1:30 or 2:30 PM in London) as a lead-in to the regular Sunday slate on CBS and Fox. The network most likely to get such a package is ABC who more or less currently lacks NFL rights.

By having the games on ABC it avoids the possibility of overtime pre-empting the start of the 1 PM games on CBS or Fox (the Skins-Bengals game went to OT a few years back, but my local Fox affiliate was not allowed to televise a 1 PM game that day because the Browns were at home at the same time).

Other games in Europe would have a 9:30 AM ET start time for broadcast on ABC. Games played across the Pacific (like in Australia, China or Japan) could also air on ABC, but they'd probably be Friday night games starting at 10 PM ET (at least it would be Friday night when they air in the US). And since these games are played outside the US they would be OK to air in competition with US high school football games.

The 17-game schedule also brings the opportunity for markets without an NFL team of their own to host an occasional NFL game.

I had this idea well before the NFL thought of it. Some teams can play games in other markets which are part of their territory, like these:

Atlanta - Sanford Stadium (Athens, U. Georgia)
Carolina - Carter–Finley Stadium (Raleigh, NC State), Kenan Memorial Stadium (Chapel Hill, UNC)
Chicago and Indianapolis - Notre Dame Stadium (South Bend, UND)
Cincinnati and Cleveland - Ohio Stadium (Columbus, OSU)
Dallas - Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium (Austin, U. Texas)
Detroit - Michigan Stadium (Ann Arbor, U. Michigan)
Green Bay - Camp Randall Stadium (Madison, U. Wisconsin)
Houston - Kyle Field (College Station, TAMU)
Jacksonville - Doak Campbell Stadium (Tallahassee, FSU)
Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa Bay - Camping World Stadium (Orlando)
Kansas City - Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, NE, U. Nebraska) and Dome at America's Center (St. Louis)
LA Chargers and LA Rams - SDCCU Stadium (San Diego)
New Orleans - Tiger Stadium (Baton Rouge, LSU)
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh - Beaver Stadium (University Park, PSU)
Seattle - BC Place (Vancouver)
Tampa Bay - Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Gainesville, U. Florida)
Tennessee - Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (Memphis) and Neyland Stadium (Knoxville, U. Tennessee)

Many of these stadiums host college football, and being able to host a game from these teams would bring in extra revenue for the universities hosting them. In Camping World Stadium's case, they can sell their NFL games (hosted by the Bucs, Fins, and Jags) as either individual games or a package. I also believe a lot of Lions fans would love to go to The Big House for a Lions game.

Many of the colleges listed here can have their football traditions take place at the NFL games too (like "dotting the I" at Bengals and Browns games held at OSU).

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Honestly, with a 17 game schedule, there should be 16 neutral site games a year and every team has to play one.  Be they international, or in the US in a non-NFL city.  Actually, that is how LA should be used, host a couple marquee matchups a year and not have it's own team.

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Canada can also be used for NFL games. The Seahawks would play games in Vancouver, the Vikings in Winnipeg, the Bills in Toronto (again, but now not losing a home game), and the Patriots in Montreal. If these games are part of the International Series, these games would likely air on Monday Night Football as part of ABC/ESPN's proposed exclusive rights to the International Series (ESPN already airs the Mexico City game). These games could also be negotiated by the individual teams like the original Bills Toronto Series.

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Posted (edited)

But playing games at a neutral field will often essentially be a ninth home game. Like in all of the examples above those fans are very likely to favor the regional team, giving them an advantage in crowd noise, crowd silence, and energy of the stadium. I'd think that in most neutral locations in the USA the Steelers would have the advantage.

I think it could be good for growing the audience if say there were four international cities the 17th game (this game needs a nickname, I vote for "The Jimmy Game") that rotated yearly through a teams schedule like the divisions they face do. So it would be Mexico City, Toronto, London, and??? (But Toronto would be a home game for the Bills...) Teams no longer lose a home game to London and you could make the whole division play in that city in a year.

Are there any rumors about how that 17th opponent would be determined? At first I thought maybe first in the AFC plays first in the NFC, second in the AFC plays... But that would make it so sometimes a team would play a non conference opponent twice the same year. I'd also thought home field would alternate each year with NFC teams having 9 home games in odd years, and the AFC having 9 home games in even years. That way the conference you were competing for playoff spots all had the same advantage or disadvantage.

Or I thought that 17th opponent could be determined with a formula like schedules already are. In 2021 the AFC North plays the NFC North. So the 17th game would be against the team in the opposite division (north-south and east-west) that had the same division rank the previous year. AFC North 1 plays NFC South 1, AFC North 2 plays NFC South 2, etc.

Idk, just thoughts I had about how to keep a 17 game schedule as balanced and fair as possible based off how the 16 game schedule does it.

Edited by otg
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