The NFL schedule follows a pretty simple formula:
Home and Home within you division.
Rotating playing full NFC and AFC divisions.
And the other two same-conference teams that placed similarly in their own divisions.
The proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NFL and NFLPA is suggesting a 17th game being added to the current model. This throws a wrench in the traditional model, but I think the NFL can use the week to develop new rivals. Because of the way the conferences are set up there are teams playing in close geographic location, but will only face each other every four years. Planning the extra game properly should feature matchups like the New York Jets vs. the New York Giants, the Texans and Cowboys, or the battle of Los Angeles between the Rams and Chargers.
In the Steelers case, that team is the cross-state Philadelphia Eagles. I believe a yearly series with the Eagles would be great for football within Pennsylvania, and it could feature a matchup that would bring out the best in both teams in the battle of state superiority.
They could even take a page out of college football’s playbook and give the rivalry some sort of fancy name and put a traveling trophy on the line. Not that it’s necessary, but it could make for an interesting sub-plot throughout each season.
When it comes to locations of these games I would say let the owners decide if they want to rotate the home stadium or play at a neutral site, in this case it could be at a place like Penn State.
As for years when the AFC North faces the NFC East they could play in a Super Bowl rematch against Seattle, Arizona, L.A. Rams, or Minnesota.
Here is my full 17th week cross conference rivalry slate:
LA Rams-LA Chargers
NY Giants-NY Jets
New England-San Francisco
Only two teams miss out on a this kind of proximity rivalry play (New England and San Francisco) but they can spin that one as 11 combined titles.
What do you think? Is this a good idea for scheduling game 17? Let us know in the comments below!