In case the lockout now over 40 days and counting, pushes into the fall and jeopardizes the start of the NFL regular season the league has made some contingency plans.
At this time the NFL could kickoff on Week 4 (Oct 2/3) and still get in all the regular season games and the playoffs with some adjustments to the schedule. After that they start losing games from the schedule.
First they have blocked out the hotels, Lucas Oil Stadium and other facilities for an additional week. Currently Super Bowl XLVI is scheduled for Sunday February 5 in Indianapolis. The league also has the stadium on February 12th if need be.
The second thing that would happen is that the normal week off between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl would be cut as it was in the case of the 9/11 tragedy in 2001. The AFC and NFC title games would then be played on the original date of the Super Bowl February 5th.
Those two changes would allow for the missed games in Week 1 (September 8-12) and Week 2 (September 18-19) to be made up at the end the regular schedule.
In the case of the Patriots here would be the potential last two weeks of play under this scenario:
- Week 15 January 9 @Miami 7p MNF
- Week 16 January 15 SAN DIEGO 4:15p
This must leave the Chargers wondering how they can get this season started on time as no west coast team, especially a Norv Turner team, wants to be in Foxboro in mid-January with a potential playoff spot on the line.
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The third thing that would happen is that all the teams who would have faced each other in Week 3 (September 25/26) were scheduled with the same bye week. So the Week 3 games would be made up over the course of the normally scheduled six bye weeks.
So your rescheduled Week 3 would look like this:
- New England @ Buffalo moved to Week 7
- Jacksonville @ Carolina moved to Week 9
- Denver @ Tennessee moved to Week 6
- Houston @ New Orleans moved to Week 11
- Detroit @ Minnesota moved to Week 9
- New York Giants @ Philadelphia moved to Week 7
- Miami @ Cleveland moved to Week 5
- San Francisco @ Cincinnati moved to Week 7
- New York Jets @ Oakland moved to Week 8
- Baltimore @ St. Louis moved to Week 5
- Kansas City @ San Diego moved to Week 6
- Atlanta @ Tampa Bay moved to Week 8
- Green Bay @ Chicago moved to Week 8
- Arizona @ Seattle moved to Week 6
- Pittsburgh @ Indianapolis moved to Week 11
- Washington @ Dallas moved to Week 5
The losers in this scenario are the players who would no longer have that much needed and waited for bye week plus two television networks, NBC and ESPN. Normally Pittsburgh and Indianapolis would have been the Sunday Night Football game on NBC while Washington and Dallas would be the Monday Night feast on ESPN.
Obviously in Week 11 and Week 5 there are already games scheduled for Sunday Night and Monday night. So a few things could happen. Week 11 is the first week of the flex games, NBC could chose to flex the Week 11 Sunday night game Eagles @ Giants for the Steelers and Colts. I don’t see that happening as both games have potential to be huge in playoff battles. So NBC may have to look at either a Saturday night game or a Sunday night doubleheader of 7p and 10p. The issue with this is that the 7p kickoff would interfere with broadcast windows of the 4:15p games. But NBC would have to be willing to make some kind of concession in order to avoid missing revenue from a missed game.
In ESPN’s case it is a little easier even though Week 5 isn’t a flex week and MNF games are locked into the schedule. The best way for ESPN to not miss the revenue from a missed game is to have the NFL allow them to schedule the game for a Monday Night Football doubleheader with a 7p and an 10p start like they do in Week 1. The currently scheduled Week 5 MNF game is Chicago @ Detroit. The Lions play in the Eastern Time zone while Dallas is in the Central. So they would give the Bears and Lions a 7p start and move the Redskins and Cowboys back to 10p eastern which is a 9p kickoff in the Big D.
While the NFL didn’t say what would happen with those affected Sunday and Monday night games I am sure they have some sort of plan in effect with the networks.
Hopefully it doesn’t come down to all of this and we have football on time this fall. But when the ego’s of billionaires and millionaires are battling each other over money and other issues I am choosing to remain pessimistic to an on time start to the 2011 NFL season.