Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Apr 2017

2017 NFL Schedule Announced

OK folks, the full 2017 regular-season schedule is out. Go ahead and discuss which teams you think got screwed by the distribution of road games or how often they have to play teams coming off bye weeks. Kansas City gets the fun assignment of kicking off the season in New England on Thursday night, September 7.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 20 Apr 2017

21 comments, Last at 25 Apr 2017, 12:38pm by The Powers That Be


by Theo :: Thu, 04/20/2017 - 5:52pm

Maybe start with a what division is playing which?
Those are set.
You're playing your own division 6 games, some other in your own conference 4 games and another division in another conference 4 games.
Leaves 2 games of strength of schedule, but the rest is set.

ps and your title is too long to respond to.

by PatsFan :: Thu, 04/20/2017 - 9:45pm

NE's schedule is bizarre -- 5 road games in 6 weeks, and having 5 of the final 6 games be AFCE games, including playing MIA twice in three weeks.

by Vincent Verhei :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 4:24am

If I were in charge, I wouldn't do any division games until the last six weeks of the year. This would give teams a chance to control their own destiny later into the season. If you're two games out at Thanksgiving, but you have already lost to your division leaders once or twice, you're pretty much done. But if you're two games out and you still play the division leader twice, you've still got a fighting chance.

by Dr. Mooch :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 7:04am

Almost the whole AFCE schedule is late this year. Both MIA-NE games, both BUF-NE, and both BUF-MIA come in weeks 12-17. Buffalo's last 5 are NE, IND, MIA, NE, MIA

by Aaron Schatz :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 11:11am

Disagree. I don't like having division games close together. It means if you have a major four-week injury, it suddenly might affect both games against a division rival.

My idea would be to have your first three division games sometime before Week 10, then the last three division games would come between Week 14 and Week 17, with only division games scheduled in Week 17.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 4:56am

If there's any coach in the league who won't complain about the schedule and will just say "We're just playing what we're given" - it's Belichick. It is bizarre though.

Unless the Dolphins or someone else picks it up in the East, it's hard to see them winning less than 12 games again. Weeks 10 & 11 against the Broncos and Raiders are probably the most interesting part of their schedule.

by FireSnake :: Sat, 04/22/2017 - 7:14am

You should never confuse what Bill Belichick says with what he does. Sure he will say to his players "take it week by week, don't care whatever comes our way". Doesn't mean the Pats are not working behind the scenes to massage the schedule as far as they can. He also says "control what we can control".

Fact is, the NFL does include feedback from the teams, esp. the 10 teams that play overseas (which includes the game at Mexico City) in the schedule making process. So, as bizarre as the schedule looks (the Patriots play once at home in a period of almost eight full weeks), the Patriots probably asked for the sequence of the bye followed by the two consecutive weeks at altitude.

And the schedule (again, it looks bizarre to me at the end) also favors the Patriots: Belichick values the games against the NFC less, because they are less important in the tie breaking procedures. And the Patriots are notorious slow starters. And they play twice in the first four weeks against NFC opponents.

by Treima :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 6:28am

I hate thinking like a conspiracy theorist but this has got to be unprecedented. I can't think of any other schedule in recent memory that looks this unbalanced. Back to back games in Denver and Mexico City, two high-altitude locales. Practically the entire division slate backloaded into the schedule because apparently it's a problem if the division is wrapped up by Week 13. I don't think my PS4 produces Madden franchise season slates this absurd, and it doesn't have the bureaucracy of the NFL combing it for these kind of quirks.

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 10:26am

nobody shedding any tears for pates.

if full actual weke between gams in denv and mexico cuity, no prob.

only probs I ever have wioth schedule is late sunday night or Monday night game amnd then have to go on road Thursday ngith. that is not fair for teams.
think a team had this issue last season ro season before. also definitely remember it happending to Jets when tjhey lost to tebow in 2011.

by HPaddict :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 10:44am

Buffalo played 5 of 6 away in 2015 (@NYJ @NE @KC HOU @PHI @WAS).

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 2:11pm

Actually now you say it's back-to-back games at altitude, it's to their advantage and makes sense as a a schedule.

If the Pats are sensible they fly out in their bye week (which comes before) to start getting acclimatised, they stay at altitude and play the 2nd game acclimatised. That's actually an advantage to them over the Raiders who won't be. And then having trained for a couple of weeks they'll get a further training effect in their next game.

If you schedule those two games at different points in the season then the Pats actually are worse off.

by nat :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 2:31pm

The Raiders go to Denver the week after and have a bye the week before. So, assuming they arrange a place to practice at altitude, they'll be acclimated, too. If not, that's on them.

Sure, the schedule looks weird. But maybe the league was trying to keep the Mexico City game from becoming a hardship for either team. As a bonus, that improves the quality of the game in Mexico, which should help the marketing effort.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 4:15pm

Thanks nat. I hadn't looked at the whole schedule but that begins to make sense.

Even if the players don't fully acclimatise physiologically, at least spending a week or so in rarefied atmosphere they start to understand how the ball travels differently on kickoffs, punts, passes. Last year when the Raiders played the Texans they were putting two players back on punts because they weren't sure how far the kicks would travel.

So yes, it should improve the quality of the game.

All in all a clever bit of scheduling to remove a potential fairness issue. Raiders-Pats is probably the best matchup we didn't get to see last season.

by Theo :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 8:50am

Second year in a row that Browns @ Steelers is the final game of the season.
I'm ok with making this a tradition.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 11:12am

To be fair, for the Browns, the first game of the season is effectively the final game of the season in all sorts of ways.

by ammek :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 4:07pm

The real losers are the Panthers who have to play Opening Week Super Niners.

Seriously, as we know that Week One results are the least consistent with the rest of the season, I always feel it's better to open against one of the hardest opponents on the schedule. You have nothing much to lose, and you are more likely to catch them on an off-day in week one than at any other time (except maybe Week 17 if they are resting starters – but that's out of anyone's control). By that token, I think the Chiefs and Seahawks should be happy with their opening fixture.

by CaffeineMan :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 4:39pm

Interesting. For the Pats, I want the exact opposite (ignoring injuries for the sake of this discussion). Given how little practice is allowed, the first 4 games are kind of a crapshoot. I'd way rather have them face, for instance, the Falcons when their defense has had a chance to integrate the new players and Belichick has been able to figure out what he's got and how to use it. The offense will be fine, but the defense could be worse at least initially. Again, ignoring injuries for this discussion, as they're random.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Sat, 04/22/2017 - 1:15pm

It's different sides of the same coin.

For the majority of teams, the toughest games on the schedule are all teams that are better than them - you want to maximize variance in those games, and minimized the variance against worse opponents.

For the Patriots, most of their toughest games are teams that are either as good as them, or slightly worse. Very rarely are they in a situation where they want to maximize variance - so its best for them to play against bad teams early, because they're the ones least likely to be able to take advantage of the variance, and good teams late, because they're usually still the better team.

by CaffeineMan :: Sat, 04/22/2017 - 2:56pm

Exactly. Pats want the high variance early games against their easiest opponents.

by burbman :: Fri, 04/21/2017 - 8:15pm

Seahawks have only one early East Coast game, and that is against Florida Georgia Line. With the rest of the NFC West, along with the AFC South on the schedule, there are a lot of wins out there. NFC East balances things a bit, but will they all be as strong as they were last year?

by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 04/25/2017 - 12:38pm

So the Cowboys and Giants open against each other for the 5th year out of 6. This one also makes three in a row played in Dallas.

I did a quick look back to see how rare this sort of thing, and it turns out it hasn't happened since back in the '40s and '50s when the Bears were opening in Green Bay every single year.

CLE-WAS opened against each other 4 years in a row (1963-1966).
ARI-SF opened against each other 4 years in a row (2006-2009).
BUF-MIA opened against each other 4 years out of 5 (1976-1980).

That's all I found (though it's certainly possible I missed something).