Is NFL Scheduling Part Popularity Contest or a Glimpse into the Future?
So, the NFL announced their 2019 schedule of games to some--but not as much fanfare as they have in the past and it raised---at least to me, more than a few questions.
No, the questions don't involve things that most of the "Sports Blogs" and websites are analyzing, I don't really care who has the "Toughest" or "Easiest" schedules.
Well, much like other sports, analyzing a Professional Sports teams schedule without knowing how good or bad either team is really going to be is an exercise in futility. Truthfully, it's an excuse for Sports Talk hosts to keep the NFL at the top of the Topical list because there really isn't much to get excited about.
"Strength of Schedule" is arguably the most overrated phrase in sports today. Okay, maybe next to College Sports and their "Preseason Polls".
Why do I say this?
You can hypothisize the opponent of "Team X" may or may not be good. You can say they were really good last season so they must be good this season. But really, you don't know. You can guess. Success the season before can be attributed to a lot of things, more than I care to get into here.
But until the games start being played, you don't really know who is going to be as good as they are hyped up to be or not. You can't know.
I say all of this for a reason---I'm getting to the point of this whole diatribe.
Popularity is a wonderful thing. You want proof---
See Browns, Cleveland. AFC Central basement dweller for pretty much the last 20-years.
The Brownies have become the darlings of everyone because for the first time in 20-years, they showed signs of life in 2018. After winning 41 games over the past decade, suddenly the Browns are the "Trendy" pick to win the Central.
Don't get me wrong---they are a much improved team. G.M. John Dorsey has helped breathe life into a nearly dead franchise with some savvy Free Agent signings and most importantly, the selection of Baker Mayfield to play QB.
And yes, he managed to acquire Odell Beckham Jr. too. Which I suspect when combined with Mayfield is the reason for the hype.
The Browns have gone in a span of a few months from a team with 11 "Prime Time" TV games in 10-years to having at least 4 in the 2019 season alone. Three of them will be in the seasons first five weeks.
Hey, maybe the hype will be spot on and Cleveland will rock. Maybe the Browns will win 12 games and make the playoffs for the first time in seemingly forever. It's a great story for a franchise nearly given up for dead and the source of endless punchlines for well, an eternity.
It certainly appears the TV Networks feel it. The league is apparently on board as well.
The NFL is not necessarily like MLB and the NBA where you almost weekly will see some combination of teams from Los Angeles, New York, Boston or Chicago playing in the National games at the expense of everyone else.
No, the Shield will go where they think the trend or hype seems to lead them.
In this case, it appears that will take them to the shores of Lake Erie somewhere near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame building.
Enjoy it while you can Cleveland fans---it has been a long time coming.