Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
AP

Offseason QB moves played big role in NFL schedule

  • Updated
  • 0

When the NFL schedule makers started to dig in after the Super Bowl on putting together the complex puzzle of a 272-game schedule, Tom Brady had just retired, Russell Wilson was in Seattle and the free-agent frenzy hadn't even started.

After sifting through more than 100,000 schedules out of a possibility of more than one quadrillion possibilities, the final schedule that the NFL released on Thursday had Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Wilson and his new team in Denver getting prime-time television windows in Week 1.

The Bucs were given the opening Sunday night spot against the Dallas Cowboys, while Wilson's debut for the Broncos will come against his former Seahawks team in Seattle in the opening Monday night game.

“In the old days, building this thing by hand, we might have been in Week 8 or 9 by the time we got Russell Wilson moving to Denver,” NFL Vice President of Broadcast Planning Mike North said. “Maybe we could have adjusted one or two things, but maybe not a wholesale stop and restart. Now thanks to the the way the technology enables us to attack this process, we could stop, take a break, re-evaluate and talk to our partners, talk to our bosses and start all over again and within a couple of days we had a whole new path and a whole new plan that would maximize each of those Denver games, each one of those Tampa Bay games.

"We probably weren't going to do that before those quarterbacks moved.”

While changes in free agency and the draft are always a factor the schedule makers have to deal with, this year’s retirement switch by Brady and new homes for Wilson and Deshaun Watson were higher-profile ones that had a large impact on the schedule.

The Broncos and Bucs were among the 13 teams that got the maximum five prime-time windows, along with Super Bowl participants the Rams and Bengals, and other big-draw teams such as Buffalo, Dallas, Kansas City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New England and the Chargers.

North said other deals such as Tyreek Hill’s trade from Kansas City to Miami also played a role in the schedule with the Dolphins’ game against Pittsburgh 50 years after they beat the Steelers in the AFC title game in their perfect season solidifying its spot as a Sunday night game in Week 7.

What once was done by hand on a cork board by one NFL executive is now handled by a cloud of computers provided by Amazon that can run through all sorts of permutations each night before the league picks the one schedule it believes optimizes as best as possible fairness to both teams and network TV partners.

The league tries to balance which networks get the most high-profile games. A Bills-Chiefs playoff rematch was given to CBS; a matchup between Brady and Patrick Mahomes will be played on Sunday night for NBC; an NFC championship game rematch between the Rams and 49ers goes to ESPN on Monday night; Amazon gets flashy quarterbacks Mahomes and Justin Herbert for the first game of its new exclusive Thursday night package; and Fox gets what could be the final game between Brady and Aaron Rodgers for its doubleheader package.

The computers also have to sift through about 26,000 “rules” put in place to deal with stadium conflicts, international travel before and after the five games played in England, Mexico and Germany and trying to spread out the “pain” of schedule inequities like long road trips or the amount of games played against teams coming off byes.

“It’s, you know, a miracle, frankly, that we ever got one done by hand,” North said. “The software, the hardware, the technology, the search engine, the AWS cloud computers, they allow us to look at an awful lot more options. We still would have landed on one then hopefully that we would have been proud of. But it’s a very different process and we really couldn’t do it without the technology that’s available to us.”

There were a few quirks to the schedule such as the Bengals playing all three road division games in prime time and the Patriots playing four straight prime-time games. North said the issue with Cincinnati was the league wanted them to play in prime time against Miami and Buffalo and those were at home, leading to the other games going on the road.

The Patriots and Bills were both slotted early into the Thanksgiving schedule with New England playing Minnesota at night. With two of the six teams playing on Thanksgiving typically playing the next Thursday night as well, the NFL opted for a Patriots-Bills game.

The Patriots also requested back-to-back games out West, and the NFL slotted the Arizona and Las Vegas games the following two weeks and picked those for prime time.

Another quirk: The New York Jets open their season with games all against the AFC North: home vs. Baltimore, at Cleveland, home vs. Cincinnati and at Pittsburgh. The only other teams to open a season against an entire division since the league's expansion to 32 teams were New Orleans in 2004 and the Giants in 2002 — both vs. the NFC West.

This year's schedule has a few new wrinkles from a tripleheader on Christmas Day to a staggered Monday night doubleheader in Week 2 with a Tennessee-Buffalo game starting at 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN and a Minnesota-Philadelphia game starting at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.

This is a change from previous years when ESPN aired a Week 1 doubleheader with the games being played back to back with the second game starting at 10:20 p.m. ET

“We’ll learn a little something from this year,” North said. “We’ll see what the fans tell us. And then next year, when we’ve got three such opportunities to have ESPN and ABC side by side, we might try three different ways.”


More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

0 Comments
0
0
0
0
0

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

The Biden administration is taking the first steps to release $45 billion to ensure every U.S. resident has access to high-speed internet by roughly 2028. The administration is inviting governors and other leaders Friday to start the application process. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is overseeing the distribution. Raimondo is traveling to North Carolina and says universal access to broadband internet would be akin to the electrification of rural America during the 1930s, a recognition the internet is a utility needed for U.S. residents to function in today’s economy. The funding is part of the $65 billion for broadband in the $1 trillion infrastructure package President Joe Biden signed into law last November.

Stocks ended another bumpy week with a gain Friday, but not enough to keep the market from lodging its sixth weekly drop in a row, the longest such streak since 2011. The S&P 500 climbed 2.4%, led by more gains in the highly volatile technology sector. Markets have been slumping since late March as traders worry that the Federal Reserve may not succeed in its delicate mission of slowing the economy enough to rein in inflation without causing a recession. Twitter sank after Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he was putting his deal to acquire the social media company on hold. 

Elon Musk has put his plan to buy Twitter on temporary hold, raising fresh doubts about whether he’ll proceed with the $44 billion acquisition. In a tweet early Friday, the Tesla billionaire said he's skeptical that the number of inauthentic accounts presented by Twitter is as low as the company suggests. The issue of fake accounts on Twitter is not secret. In its quarterly filing with the SEC, even Twitter expressed doubts that its count of bot accounts was correct, conceding that the estimate may be low.

During a week in mid-May, broadcast television networks traditionally unveil their fall plans in flashy presentations before advertisers in New York. Fox is no different, but this year the network is trying something new by announcing some programs but not its schedule. NBC, which had its first large-scale programming announcement in three years because of the COVID break, emphasized its place in the larger media conglomerate with the Peacock streaming service and cable networks. Fox says the absence of its schedule is an effort to try something new and give equal weight to its Tubi streaming service. Fixed schedules are slowly becoming obsolete as viewers decide what to watch and when.

Asian shares have bounced back after losses earlier in the week, shrugging off the latest data showing U.S. wholesale prices soared 11% in April from a year earlier. Oil prices and U.S. futures also were higher. Investors are puzzling over what's next with inflation and the U.S. central bank's response to it. The S&P 500 erased most of an early slump to end down just 0.1%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.3%. The Nasdaq eked out a gain of 0.1%. The sizzling producer price index for April followed a hot report on inflation at the consumer level on Wednesday.

The name “FIFA” can bring to mind images of the World Cup and soccer’s greatest players. Pele, Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi among them. The acronym for the sport’s governing body may also remind some of shameless bribery and corruption. But for many it’s the video game that is synonymous with FIFA. The Switzerland-based soccer body has enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with EA Sports for three decades with the annual edition of the video game raking in billions of dollars. But FIFA severed the licensing deal partnership with Electronic Arts Inc. on Tuesday. They are now becoming opponents.

It’s often said that fans at live concerts give the band a jolt of electricity. Coldplay wants to literally harness it. The pop superstars have added kinetic dance floors and energy-storing stationary bikes to their latest world tour, encouraging fans to help power the show as they dance or spin. It’s part of a larger push to make the tour more environmentally friendly. The band, whose songs include the appropriately titled “Higher Power,” has pledged to be as sustainable and low-carbon as possible, hoping to cut their CO2 emissions by 50%.

Broadcast television networks, inundated with competition from cable and streaming services, have learned the power of franchises. Last week's Nielsen company list is a stark reminder: 12 of the 20 most popular scripted series last week were parts of existing franchises — the three “Chicago” dramas on NBC and the three “FBI” shows on CBS, for example. ABC, in announcing its new fall schedule on Tuesday, said it will try to create its own franchise by spinning off a companion version to its show “The Rookie” in the fall. CBS won the week in prime time last week, with NBC coming in second.

An aquarium and environmental organization are working together to collect better data about shark sightings and help keep people informed of when the animals are nearby. The New England Aquarium in Boston and Chatham, Massachusetts-based Atlantic White Shark Conservancy said Wednesday their expansion of the conservancy’s “Sharktivity” smartphone app will help protect both the humans and the sharks. The conservancy has used the app since 2016 to collect information from the public about the presence of sharks. Now, the conservancy is contracting with the aquarium to employ a shark expert to verify shark sighting reports that arrive via Sharktivity.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News