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Instant Debate

To our experts, 16 games -- not 18 -- seem just right

Should the NFL expand from its current 16-game regular season to an 18-game regular season (with two fewer preseason games)?

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  • Jason La Canfora NFL Network
  • Grow revenue in other ways than adding games

I'm not a fan of the 18-game season. I fear for the safety of players, what it will do to the depth of teams and how that could then relate to a poorer quality of play.

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  </table> The idea of reducing the preseason -- that component of the 18-game arguments -- I'm totally on board with. And by all means, let's shorten the OTA period and not have offseason workouts starting three weeks after the Super Bowl anymore. The demands of the sport are already great enough.  

There are other ways to grow revenue beyond playing more games -- putting one and then maybe two teams in L.A., continuing to tap into the European fanbase, finding ways to best fund new stadiums.

But the risks to both the men who play the game and the quality of play itself makes me hesitant to add anything to the schedule.

The 16-game season works. It's part of statistical history (and, yes, I realize that it was 14, and then fewer games before that, but this modern era of football is synonymous with this length of schedule). The symmetry of divisional games, and divisions playing roughly the same schedule, with the other two games based on record of finish -- that formula works, it's fair and it's part of the competitive balance that makes the league so great.

I'm cool with the status quo on this one.

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  • Vic Carucci
  • All for replacing meaningless games

I don't know if I truly like the idea of 18 regular-season games, but I know I don't like four games in the preseason. On that basis, I am in favor of converting two meaningless games into two extra games that matter. I do have some concerns about whether we'll begin seeing an increase in less important games in the final few weeks of the regular season, but that can be helped somewhat by loading up the latter part of the schedule with division games. I realize there will be plenty of debate over players more exposed to injury, although the NFL and NFLPA can figure out a way to mitigate that by cutting back on offseason and training-camp workouts (unfortunately, the lockout has provided a pretty good preview of how that might look).

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  • Steve Wyche
  • More games might make division games less meaningful

I'd keep things the way they are at 16 games. I'm not so sure the 18-game schedule would have the desired effect of keeping games competitive at the end of the schedule. In fact, I think the final game or two could end up looking like preseason games in which teams aren't even dressing starters because playoff berths would be clinched.

Also, an 18-game schedule could diminish the value of division games. Right now, each team plays six division games, which factor into tiebreakers and playoff position. If you add two more games, those would be non-divisional games. So teams could lose all their division games and hypothetically finish 12-6. It's not a huge difference than the way things are now, but you can see the point.

The expanded schedule could definitely increase the possibility of injuries, especially for teams that advance to the playoffs. Players and teams would adjust, especially if they're allowed to increase rosters or expand them at the end of season, or players on injured reserve could return to the active roster for the postseason.

I'm old enough to remember when the NFL went from 14 to 16 games, and some of the same arguments were made then and things turned out OK. That would happen again. I'm just good with the way things stand.

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  • Adam Rank
  • Sometimes more is better, but not here

I'm a supersize guy, which is no surprise by looking at me. Beverage refill? More chips and salsa? Twenty extra minutes to "Hot Tub Time Machine"? Yes, yes and, hell yes.

I'm not even opposed to 18 regular-season NFL games (keep in mind, the NHL's Bruins and Canucks had to play like 100 games this year; take your sad tales of a long season somewhere else, NFL players).

But the NFL is a bit misguided in its quest for more games. What NFL fans (for which I am one of) really want is cheaper ticket prices for preseason games. You could have six preseason games if you capped the price at $20 a ticket. NFL fans should not be forced to pay full price for games featuring less talented players.

The only flaw in that logic is that Bengals fans would want that $20 cap to extend to the regular season.

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  • Charles Davis NFL Network
  • Don't interrupt what has a good rhythm

I totally dislike the idea of an 18-game season. Despite my lack of scientific and empirical data, my gut tells me that the fans are not clamoring for more regular-season games. Would they accept more games? Sure, but the rhythm of the NFL season is a good one already, and the last thing that is needed is more games and more injuries to key players. Let's keep playing 16, and then bring on the playoffs!

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  • Bucky Brooks
  • Every week matters in 16 games

I don't like the notion of an 18-game schedule. That is too long for players and you will see the quality of play go down due to more injuries, etc. Also, the beauty of the 16-game season is the importance of each game on a team's playoff prospects. With only 12 postseason berths and a tight schedule, the NFL regular season has the kind of significance that makes everyone tune in on a weekly basis.

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  • Dave Dameshek
  • Might just be too much of a good thing

Everyone knows that an 18-game schedule is a bad idea for the short- and long-term health of the players. End of debate.

The thing I can't figure out is, why are we fans all so against it? One hypothesis is that over the last 33 years (when the league moved to the 16-game schedule), we've all become comfortable with the existing empirical measures of a player's production -- we collectively understand the meaning of individual single-season numbers like 2,000 yards rushing, 100 receptions.

Or, maybe it's that we've finally accepted the cliché about too much of a good thing, a.k.a.: The Indiana Jones Syndrome. For two decades, we all pined for a fourth installment of Harrison Ford/Han Solo/Deckard-as-Dr. Jones. Then we got it. I wish I could just close my eyes and unsee "The Crystal Skull" ... kinda like Indy instructs Marion to do at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" while the Nazis' faces melted off because God was mad about something or other.

Anyhoo, 18 games would be bad.

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  • Elliot Harrison
  • Let me count the ways why I don't like it

Completely dislike it on almost every front imaginable.: a) The players don't want it.
b) It looks like a money grab in an industry that's in a fight over revenue sharing already.
c) Fans have almost zero interest, so there's no demand from the peanut gallery.
d) It waters down the regular season.
e) The possibility of teams clinching early and rolling Jim Sorgi and Peter Tom Willis out there at quarterback becomes a likely scenario.
f) All the records I know and love become moot. Dan Marino's 5,084 passing yards and Eric Dickerson's 2,105 rushing yards (both set in 1984) will get toppled.
g) Careers could be shortened even further in a league that already is getting lambasted -- fairly or not -- for not taking care of its ex-players who need medical help.
h) Do we need an "h" at this point?

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