An idea for a 17th NFL game. Adding a yearly neutral site "rivalry" game. How would you set this u

Regarding the NFL owners wanting to add a 17th game, there are obviously several issues. These include things like player safety, roster size, whether or not to reduce the preseason, etc. One of the other issues is that the schedule as currently set up is symmetrical and works very well with the way the divisions and conferences as they are currently arranged. The question that naturally arises is how would this 17th game be scheduled? I thought a fun exercise would be to set it up so that every team gets a yearly neutral site “rivalry” game, played against the same team every year. The only rule would be that the rival is not in the same division. One of the reasons I suggest neutral site rather than alternating home games is to avoid scenarios where Team A plays two away games against Team B in the same year if it so happens that Team B would normally fall onto their schedule that year. With that out of the way, which teams would you make rivals, and what would be a good neutral site for each game? Feel free to list as many or few teams and neutral sites as you like.

Here are some of my ideas. Of course not every team has rivalries outside of their division so some might have to be created.

Teams that already seem to play each other most years and already have a rivalry despite being in different divisions.

Steelers vs. Patriots
Cowboys vs. Packers

Regional rivalries.

LA Chargers vs. LA Rams
NY Giants vs. NY Jets
Buccaneers vs. Dolphins
Raiders vs. 49ers
Chiefs vs. Colts

Old franchises vs. their replacements (with a twist to avoid same division match ups)

Browns vs. Titans
Texans vs. Ravens

Bird Fight

Eagles vs. Falcons

Twin Expansion Franchises

Panthers vs. Jaguars

Forming a new tradition

Redskins vs. Bears
Vikings vs. Seahawks
Bengals vs. Broncos
Bills vs. Lions
Saints vs. Cardinals

What do you all think of this idea? How would you assign the rivalries and pick the neutral sites?

I wouldn’t. The system isn’t broke so don’t break it. Plus, the schedule already rotates every division so you’d have years with two rivalry games.

Quite frankly, I’m sick of the London and Mexico games. At least Mexico doesn’t have the same time zone issues as London does. The Sunday night game is often the best of the week and it starts after midnight in London. Kinda hard to ‘grow the game’ that way.

The rivalry thing kinda works in baseball since it’s a much longer season. But, there’s almost no buzz about Cubs vs White Sox these days. Pro sports rivalries just aren’t the same intensity as college sports. Sure parts of the country cares about Yankees/Red Sox, the rest of us are tired of seeing them non stop on ESPN. In the NFL, what rivalries are long standing? Bears/Packers who already play twice a year? Same with Redskins/Cowboys which is already fizzling a bit due to the ‘Skins being pretty irrelevant over the past 20 years. And they’re nothing like the great college football and basketball rivalries.

In what sense is Browns vs. Titans a rivalry? The big rival for the Browns is the Steelers. Or if you want to go the “replacements” route, that’d be Browns-Ravens. I can’t think of any connection whatsoever between the Browns and the Titans.

Real rivalries are with teams in your division. They already play them twice a year. You can’t manufacture rivalries. They happen organically.

I was trying to set up so that teams wouldn’t play each other three times a year, which eliminated a lot of the classic rivalries. As for Browns and Titans, I twisted up the teams / cities that got screwed by franchise relocating (Cleveland and Houston) by those that benefited (Baltimore and Tennessee). Since the Browns and Ravens as well as Texans and Titans are in the same division, I just switched them up.

If they really do add another game, it should be out of conference in a rotation. Easiest would be set it based on standing.

For example, this year every team in the NFC north will play:
6 games in the division
4 games against the NFC East
4 games against the AFC West
1 Game against the opponent in the NFC West that matches their standing in the division
1 Game against the opponent in the NFC South that matches their standing in the division

To add a 17th game, let’s say for this year the NFC North would face the AFC South based on divisional standings.
So it would be
Bears vs. Texans
Vikings vs. Colts
Packers vs. Titans
Lions vs. Jaguars

They wouldn’t all have to be foreign locations. Something like the Steelers vs. Patriots could be played in Philadelphia during a week when the Eagles are away.

It would be unfair because of the match ups. Obviously, the Packers-Bears would qualify, and that is pretty much saddling us with an extra loss every year. On the other hand, the Raiders-Denver match-up would perennially be of benefit to Denver.

The Colts famously abandoned Baltimore, moving everything out in the middle of the night, March 29, 1984.

Pointless trivia: The Colts as they are today, originally existed as the “Dallas Texans.” The franchise was sold to Baltimore in 1953 where they kept the old AAFC “Colts” nickname but also retained the blue and white team colors of the Texans.

I agree – rather than trying to create rivalries that aren’t already regularly played anyway, this would make sense. One of the complaints that some have about the current NFL schedule system (which, IMO, is a pretty well-built thing) is that any given team only plays any given team in the opposite conference once every four years, and only hosts a game against that team once every eight years.

That said: the NFL’s push for a 17- or 18-game schedule is simply a blatant cash grab, and a dumb idea. Given the injury rate in the sport, even 16 games might well be too many.

Yeah, I was pumped to go see the Bears in Vegas, but because the stadium isn’t ready, that won’t be for another 7 years,

Three problems with this.

First, the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas.

Second, where would they play? The closest thing to a stadium that’s large enough and would let them play is Stanford, and that’s a shadow of its former self. (Both the university and the city of Berkeley have made it quite clear that NFL games at Cal is out of the question.)

Third, the Raiders and 49ers used to play each other every year in the preseason (including back when the Raiders were in the AFL), but one year, some major fighting broke out between the fans after the game, and it was cancelled; I don’t think they want to bring it back more than the once every four years that it is now any time soon.

The Raiders have beat Denver 3 of the last four times they played.

I would set it up so the Redskins would play the Dolphins 17 times. That way they might finish over .500.

Uh… did you just miss one of the biggest rivalries in the NFL? Falcons v. Saints needs to be a rivalry game.

I think the rivalry games need to be played at college stadiums. Otherwise, nothing would make sense.

Falcons and Saints are already in the same division. They play each other twice a year.

Why set up a rivalry game and make it difficult for the fans of the two teams involved to be there? The best part of a rivalry is that it takes place in one of the teams’ home stadium. A neutral field essentially gets rid of the best part of the game; either coming through for the home crowd or silencing the other team’s fans in their house.

Having said that, rivalry games are best when they happen organically. There was a great rivalry between Indy and New England that (mostly) went away when Peyton Manning left. It would be unproductive to elevate that to a formal position when it can disappear one season to the next.

Is there, in fact, any actual rivalry between any of the OP’s pairings?

The Packers and Cowboys have not particularly liked each other for a long time, and the Cowboys were on the losing end of the Packer franchise’s signature win (the Ice Bowl), but for both teams, it’s probably not a rivalry on par with what they have with their divisional foes. Speaking as a longtime Packer fan, and having grown up in Green Bay, once you get past the Bears and the Vikings, the team that Packer fans has always disliked the most has been the Cowboys.

Raiders/49ers and Giants/Jets probably would make some sense, due to their regional proximity, and, as I have always understood it, some level of rivarly between their fans. Though, as That Don Guy noted, the Raiders are moving away.

This is a feature, and a vast improvement compared to how it was before realignment. In 1998, the Dolphins and Broncos played each other for only the second time in the entire careers of both Dan Marino and John Elway, and the first time was in 1985. Imagine if Tom Brady’s Patriots never faced Peyton Manning’s Colts, and that’s what it was like.

I disagree that the 17th game should be out of conference. 25% of the schedule is already out of conference, which is more than enough. Better would be to add another non-common strength of schedule game inside the conference (for wildcard race excitement), but that’s where it gets tricky.

6 divisional
4 out of conference
4 in conference

14 no-brainer games, so we need 3 more, and we have 8 teams to work with. My brain already hurts. You want to keep the 4 in-conference games (playing an entire division, rotating every 3 years) to ensure everyone plays everyone, avoiding another Elway/Marino debacle.

Using any notation other than team names gets confusing, so let’s go with a generic power rankings based on general recent performance:

E1. Cowboys
E2. Eagles
E3. Giants
E4. Redskins

N1. Packers
N2. Bears
N3. Vikings
N4. Lions

S1. Saints
S2. Falcons
S3. Panthers
S4. Bucs

W1. Seahawks
W2. Rams
W3. 49ers
W4. Cardinals

Let’s further say that in the hypothetical sample year, East plays North and South plays West, so all 3 matchups have to be outside that. I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around it mathematically, so I’m going to just throw examples against a wall and see if anything sticks:

E1 Cowboys play S1 Saints, W1 Seahawks, S2 Falcons
E2 Eagles play S2 Falcons, W2 Rams, W1 Seahawks
E3 Giants play S3 Panthers, W3 49ers, S4 Bucs
E4 Redskins play S4 Bucs, W4 Cardinals, W3 49ers

N1 Packers play S1 Saints, W1 Seahawks, W2 Rams
N2 Bears play S2 Falcons, W2 Rams, S1 Saints
N3 Vikings play S3 Panthers, W3 49ers, W4 Cardinals
N4 Lions play S4 Bucs, W4 Cardinals, S3 Panthers

Let’s see if this works. All NFC strength-of-schedule games should already be covered by the above two lists, meaning I should be able to plug in those values to get the West and South schedules, hopefully with 3 games for every team:

S1 Saints play E1 Cowboys, N1 Packers, N2 Bears (checks out)
S2 Falcons play E2 Eagles, N2 Bears, E1 Cowboys (checks out)
S3 Panthers play E3 Giants, N3 Vikings, N4 Lions (checks out)
S4 Bucs play E4 Redskins, N4 Lions, E3 Giants (checks out)

W1 Seahawks play E1 Cowboys, N1 Packers, E2 Eagles (checks out)
W2 Rams play E2 Eagles, N2 Bears, N1 Packers (checks out)
W3 49ers play E3 Giants, N3 Vikings, E4 Redskins (checks out)
W4 Cardinals play E4 Redskins, N4 Lions, N3 Vikings (checks out)

Holy shit, that actually works! If they go to a 17 game schedule, the above “formula” would be my vote.