Would 9 Division Games make for Better Football?

As I read all of the opinions tossed back and forth in the article discussing the trade deadline, I decided to write an article reguarding the current scheduling system for the NFL. As fans may or may not know, the current system has a team play 6 division games, 4 games from another division within their conference, 4 games from a division in the other conference, and two games against the other two divisions not in the rotation within their conference, based off of the previous years finish. I.E. the AFC East team that finished 1st would battle both 1st place teams from the the two AFC divisions that weren't included in the other 10 conference games. Whew, that was confusing to write.

This system is good because at a minimum every team gets to host every other team from the opposite conference at least once every 8 years. This is great for someone like me, as I live in Seattle and I'm guaranteed to see the Dolphins play here at least once every decade. Beyond that, it's kind of a vanilla system that leaves too many variables for the playoffs.

I'd like to see a scheduling change that would have 9 division games. Everyone loves a great rivalry game. I think most fans would rather watch any good rivalry game than see a team play a game that has no territorial-charged anger and little to no value determining potential tie breakers going into the post season. I hate the tie breaker system.


If, at the end of the regular season, two or more clubs in the same division finish with identical won-lost-tied percentages, the following steps will be taken until a champion is determined.

Two Clubs

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  5. Strength of victory.
  6. Strength of schedule.
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  9. Best net points in common games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss

(borrowed from

It's silly that it even has to be projected out this far. It's also lame that around week 12 every season I am once again forced to "google" the NFL's tie breakers because I can't and won't memorize past #2. I realize the NFL wants all teams to travel to all sites to maximize interest in the sport, but there is potential for so many variables left at the end of season. I would sure hate for the Dolphins and Patriots to finish 10-6 next season only to see Miami get a wildcard or, worse yet, miss the playoffs completely. Especially, when you found out they didn't make the cut based on "strength of victory". I've never researched what the furthest into the tie breakers they've ever needed to go. It seems reasonable to conclude it could easily get to strength of victory.

Ideally, I'd like to see the preseason reduced to 3 games and a 17 game regular season. Then they would play 9 division games and all the teams from 2 other divisions on a rotating schedule. I'd have the last 3 weeks of the season all be division games to help avoid those meaningless week 16 and/or 17 games we see regularly. If they eliminated regular season games from being able to finish in a tie, they could throw out the whole stupid tie breaker list and all the confusion along with it. I'd love seeing those 3 extra games against the Bills, Patriots, and Jets, instead of seeing how the AFC East stacks up against the NFC West every 4 years when these teams are basically on opposite sides of the country and don't play often enough to have good ol' fashioned rivalry hatred.

I think everyone benefits from this. Now there's less long distance (time zone) traveling for the players. The last three weeks of the season could really be a climax rather than a plateau. Increased division hatred and actual bragging rights every year. Imagine never hearing, "Yeah, we split with them last year" again. I don't see many negatives with my scheduling system, but I realize there will always be potential flaws. The worst that could happen would be this: the three teams not throwing games in the AFC South gets to pad their win column with an extra game. Since division games are usually not too lopsided, I don't think it would be an issue except once every 5-10 years.

Any comments, critiques, additions, ideas how expand on this (or why you think this would ruin the NFL altogether) are welcome.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.

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