If you have ever wondered if the league has paid any thought to the fact that there are instances during a season in which one team will be far less rested than their opponent when making the schedule, they answered that question this offseason indirectly by revealing that they are now taking that into consideration in their scheduling procedure.
Termed “rest disparity”, the number of additional days between games that one team might receive over another in advance of any one particular game, and over the course of a full season, is now one of the many variables that are a part of the intricate formula for creating the schedule every season.
This information comes courtesy of Peter King writing for Monday Morning Quarterback, who spoke with one of the members of the four-person scheduling team about the inclusion of rest disparity in the matrix for the 2018 season and beyond.
King pointed out that the New York Giants were unhappy with their own rest disparity from a season ago. When you add up the total differential between the number of extra days of rest they had on their opponents versus the number of extra days their opponents had on them, they came away with a net deficiency of 22 days.
In case you were wondering, the Pittsburgh Steelers this season are one of the most fortunate teams in the league in this regard. The only team with a greater surplus of rest days built into their schedule for the 2018 season is the Arizona Cardinals, who have a rest disparity surplus of 12 days. The Steelers and the Houston Texans both have 10 additional days of rest in comparison to their week-by-week opponents.
The Steelers will be in the hole one game in Week Four as they play a Monday Night game the week prior to that, while the Baltimore Ravens will play on Sunday. They will gain a week on the Cleveland Browns coming out of their Week Seven bye, putting them at plus-six by that point.
For their rematch against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Steelers will have three extra days of rest, playing on Thursday the week prior. Finally, they pick up a 10th additional day of rest headed into their Week 16 game against the New Orleans Saints, as their opponents will play on Monday night the week prior to that game.
The majority of teams fall within the range of plus or minus five days of rest—19 of the 32 teams in the league, to be exact. Only three have 10 or more additional days of rest, while only one has 10 or more days of rest fewer than their opponents. Only a handful of teams have a negative disparity greater than five.
The Steelers may have to travel more than they have the past couple of years, but at least they will have a longer time to rest than three of their opponents, while only one has an advantage of just a day on them.