Earlier this week the 2011 NFL schedule was released and it was a bittersweet moment of sorts for football fans. On the one hand, the schedule release is a great day for fans because we can start planning our road trips, predicting the team's win/loss record and looking at what might become of the 2011-12 NFL season. On the other hand, it's a reminder that, as of now, there isn't a 2011-12 NFL season, thanks to the lockout.
ESPN's Adam Schefter did an excellent job of taking a deeper look at the schedule and discovered the league has made a few tweaks that could potentially extend the lockout deadline of when games would be compromised.
We've previously noted that the league and the players would likely have to come to some sort of agreement by sometime in August in order to save the first week of the season, which comes on the weekend of Sept. 11. They'll probably need three weeks to a month to prepare for the season.
The schedule makers constructed the slate of games in 2011 in such a way that may have bought themselves a little more time to come to an agreement. There are three main things the league has done to prepare for missing games.
First, Schefter notes that every opponent in Week 3 has the same bye week. For the Chiefs, that's the San Diego Chargers. Their Week 3 game is scheduled for Sept. 25 and each team has a Week 6 bye. That means the league has potentially gained a week right there. Those games could be made up later in the year during the originally scheduled bye week.
Second, the league has two weeks between the conference championships and the Super Bowl. They could eliminate that extra week and pick up another week in case the lockout affects the season.
Third, the league has the Super Bowl scheduled for Feb. 5, 2012. They have booked two weeks worth of hotel rooms in Indianapolis and could push the Super Bowl back by a week to Feb. 12, 2012.
So that's three weeks the league could potentially gain without eliminating any games (other than the preseason, of course). This would suggest that the league could potentially take the lockout into late August or early September and still play 16 games.
Again, this is a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand, I like that there are plans in place to prepare for the worst and still not miss any games. On the other hand, I hate that the worst case scenario is even an option.