Time to shorten the NFL season to 14 games

There’s quite a bit of talk about expanding the NFL season from 16 games to 18 games per team. the primary driver for the expansion talk seems to be that the league currently has a pre-season that consists of four games played overwhelmingly scrubs that aren’t going to play much or at all during the regular season. So why not turn two of those games into competitive games that actually have some meaning?

The main counter argument is that two extra games will increase the wear and tear on players and also increase the risk of injury. While I agree with those concerns I have a different objection: I don’t want to spend more time watching games. I want to spend less time. The amount of time required to follow an NFL team can be reduced in two ways: One is to reduce the number of games and the other is to reduce the length of each game. Both are very doable, or would have been had not owners and players been so greedy.

Reducing the regular season to 14 from 16 games would have a couple of benefits besides saving fans time. For one thing it would reduce the risk of injury simply by reducing the number of plays. For another, it would increase the importance of divisional games and most rivalries are of the intra-division kind (for example New England v New York, New England v Miami, Green Bay v Chicago, Cleveland v Cincinnati, Chicago v Minnesota etc).

It is rarely the case that it takes 16 games to figure out which teams deserve to go to the play offs and which don’t. Besides, the expanded wild card format means that almost half of the play off teams have no business playing in the post season, so the risk of a worthy team not making it is quite frankly minimal.

The other way to reduce time sucked up by games is to reduce their length. That can most easily be done by getting rid of challenges, by getting rid of TV timeouts – it’s not as if football doesn’t have enough game breaks as it is – and also by getting rid of the network programming promos and the pompous transitions from live action to commercials and vice versa.

Fewer games means less revenue for the league and its franchises. Isn’t that just too bad?