In case you ever wondered if the NFL is exclusively dedicated to screwing over the Pittsburgh Steelers (and there are a few out there who seem to think that), it turns out that that is actually not the case. In fact, it was actually because of the Steelers specifically that the league scrapped an entire simulation for the 2018 NFL regular season schedule, according to Peter King.
The Monday Morning Quarterback writer recently spoke to members of the NFL’s four-person scheduling team that is responsible for working out the specifics of all 256 games that are to be played every year, and in that conversation was revealed a few interesting tidbits, the most interesting of which being one that I already talked about.
As I relayed the other day, the league for the first time in its history is actively giving consideration to a variable they are calling ‘rest disparity’ in the process of making the schedule. The idea is to prevent teams from being at too much of a disadvantage based on having short rest periods or opponents with long rest periods.
But anyway, back to the building of the schedule itself. The way that the team runs it these days is through a process of computer simulations, which spits out every conceivable result possible given the matches. Only a small handful of these simulations are determined to be ‘playable’.
There were 14 playable schedules that were churned out this year, and one of the 13 that was not chosen was rejected entirely because of a disadvantage that the Steelers would have suffered as a result.
As King writes, ”one of the 13 playable schedules that was turned down by Katz failed in only one regard: It had the Steelers on the West Coast on Dec. 9, a Sunday night game at Oakland, followed by another road game the following Sunday”.
NFL Vice President Howard Katz rejected it because of that because it would be “unfair for the Steelers to play on the West Coast on a Sunday night, get back to Pittsburgh at 7 a.m. or thereabouts on Monday, and then have to prepare to travel Saturday for a Sunday game”.
The writer adds, “that’s what nixed that schedule”. He notes that “Pittsburgh still plays at Oakland Dec. 9. But the Steelers are home the next Sunday. Thank heaven for small favors. The Steelers do get the late Sunday afternoon game. But it’s against the Patriots”.
And so thanks to the benevolence of the league, the Steelers were spared playing a road game immediately following a Sunday night game on the road on the opposite coast. A small victory, perhaps. But it goes to show the level of detail that must go into creating the schedule, and the inevitable reality that it’s impossible to fully appease all 32 teams.