One NFL executive agrees, telling USA Today Sports if the league could do it over, it would tweak the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers schedules.
Raiders, Bucs to spend 6 weeks away
Five teams have schedules in which they have only one home game over a six-week span: Raiders, Bucs, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.
It’s especially brutal for the Raiders and Bucs, both of whom won’t actually play at their home stadiums in that six-week stretch due to international games.
The Raiders are on the road for weeks 3 and 4 before playing the Chicago Bears in London as the “home” team. After an open week they head back out on the road for two weeks. They won’t host a game at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, where they agreed to a final season last month, any time between Sept. 22 and Nov. 3.
The Bucs host in week 3 before a two-game road trip and serving as the host in London against the Carolina Panthers. Then it’s an open date and two more road games. They’re away from Tampa from Sept. 22 to Nov. 10.
The NFL will have five international games this year, starting with three at Tottenham’s new stadium and a fourth at Wembley Stadium in London. A fifth is scheduled for Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. All teams receive an open date after the international game.
Related: See where each team stood at the start of the league year:
NFL video president of broadcasting Michael North told USA Today Sports the night before schedules were released the league seeks to find “that magical, mythical one [league] schedule that is going to be as good as possible for everybody.”
While he admitted in the same sentence it isn’t possible to make everyone happy, he did tell the site the following day the league wants to remedy the bigger issue.
“This is one that the NFL would love to have back. It’s certainly not unusual for an NFL team to have one home game over a six-week stretch. But when that one home (game) isn’t actually home, this is likely something that the NFL would seek to avoid in the future.
“I’d love a redo on that one.”
North said the NFL is always looking out for “statistically significant” issues that impact scheduling and attempt to fix them in future seasons. The league tries to make fair, balanced schedules for each time while incorporating stadium availability and broadcast partners’ requests, among other things.
It recently started formatting schedules so that a team didn’t play more than two road games against opponents coming off an open date. Years ago it began using a flex format late in the season to move more competitive games to the Sunday night slot on NBC.