Mad Dog Sports Radio’s Adam Schein said it, and we don’t think it’s an overstatement: The day the NFL releases the upcoming season’s schedule is one of the greatest days of the year.
That day came this week, and Mad Dog Sports Radio and SiriusXM NFL Radio got to sit down with two of the people who are part of the select group that makes the year’s schedule: NFL Senior Vice President Howard Katz, and NFL Director of Broadcasting Michael North.
From their conversations with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Bob Papa and David Diehl, we learned a number of things about the process, and a few rules that go into the selection process. Six of the most interesting nuggets:
1. This year’s schedule features 19 Super Bowl rematches.
That includes four primetime games, including Kansas City Chiefs-Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football Week 3. And of the 17 weeks on the schedule, 13 of those weeks include a Super Bowl rematch.
2. There are six Thursday Night Football rematches on the schedule.
Why does that happen? As the NFL has tried to make the Thursday night games more compelling, they’ve relied on mid-week divisional match-ups. Of course, there are a finite number of divisional match-ups. That’s why you’ll see the Washington Redskins take on the New York Giants on Thursday night, Sept. 24th, just as they met up on Thursday night of Week 4 during the 2014 season.
3. No teams will follow a Sunday Night game with a Thursday Night game.
Last year, the New Orleans Saints beat the Green Bay Packers, 44-23, on Sunday Night Football in Week 8. Four nights later, they beat the Carolina Panthers, 28-10, on Thursday Night Football. Still, Saints head coach Sean Payton was unhappy with the short turnaround, calling the schedule decision “crazy.” This year, no NFL teams will have to follow New Orleans’ act.
4. Teams with early bye weeks didn’t have an early bye week last year.
Nobody wants the Week 4 bye week. Still, every year, two teams have to deal with it. Those two teams this year: The New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans. There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. Katz told Russo that teams which get the short-end of the bye-week stick one year get a preferred bye week the following year.
5. The NFL gets more requests from teams than they can accommodate.
As North pointed out on SiriusXM NFL Radio, NFL teams spend big money to build big stadiums, then play just 10 games in those stadiums each year. That means there are a lot of days on the calendar to book other events. So if the Pope is coming to town (talking to you, Philadelphia), the local franchise needs to request the NFL keep the home team out of town that weekend. The requests from teams roll in fast and furious, starting as early as February. And while the NFL does their best to take every situation into account, there are too many to please everybody.
6. There are trillions of possible schedules from which to choose.
1,000,000,000,000. That’s one trillion. That’s a big number. And from that big number North and the other schedule makers are tasked with picking one schedule to rule them all.
Listen to Katz and North’s full comments below, then hear Schein break down some of the most exciting games to come on the 2015 slate.