It’s Rivalry Week at SB Nation, and we have so many angles to explore. For NFL teams that have a rival within their own division, getting to face a rival twice a year can add a little extra fire to those weeks on the schedule.
We asked the experts from our team sites what impact the NFL’s scheduling protocol and playoff structure have on league rivalries. Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The Week 17 games
It’s a shame when those Week 17 games end up being meaningless for either one side or both teams. Maybe that’s something the league needs to adjust. On a separate note, I’d be interested to see what new divisions would look like if the NFL went that route at some point. Even just to try out on a temporary basis. Could be fun to make some new rivalries.
- Brandon Lee Gowton, Bleeding Green Nation
I love the idea of scheduling divisional games for Week 17 each year. Even if the two teams aren’t each battling for a playoff spot, there’s a decent chance one of the teams is playing spoiler.
- Lester Wiltfong Jr., Windy City Gridiron
On playing teams twice a season
If you hate a team, you’re going to have to deal with them twice a season. I think rivalries are really resilient and will only get stronger over years rather than dissipate.
- Bill Williamson, Turf Show Times and Silver & Black Pride
The AFC East’s rivalries have been down some because of the Patriots’ domination. That said, Jets Week twice a year is great, and the Bills are looking stronger, so maybe some of the old-school hatred from the Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas era will come back. This year will be fun because the schedule has the Dolphins and Jets playing each other back-to-back, with a bye in between, meaning Jets week basically becomes three weeks long. I think Brandon has a point, though, that some of the Week 17 meetings that are supposed to enhance the rivalry have lost luster if one of the teams is out of everything or has clinched everything. It has been fun when the Dolphins have had a chance to keep the Patriots from a bye or home field advantage though.
- Kevin Nogle, The Phinsider
Having guys punch each other in the mouth twice a year is going to brew some serious hatred, especially when both teams are annual playoff contenders. Just look at what Bengals vs. Steelers has become since 2004. That’s become the most violent rivalry in my lifetime (31 now), and having them play twice a year (and twice in the playoffs) only helped their hatred of each other grow more and more to the point every matchup became a bloodbath for several years.
- Jason Marcum, Cincy Jungle
And for playoff contention?
I would like to see the NFL get rid of the automatic home game and instead make it an automatic berth. Rivalries are important, but a 9-7 team should not be awarded a home game over one that is 11-5.
- Pete Sweeney, Arrowhead Pride