The hopes of all NFL players, owners, and fans is that a full football season will be played in 2011. But the league is taking actions in case that doesn’t happen.
The NFL is discussing different scenarios regarding the number of games played during the 2011 season, depending on if and when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached. One of the plans being mulled over is an eight game regular season schedule. In this situation, the season would start in late November, giving teams five weeks to prepare for their season by allowing free agency, training camps, and a preseason game. It would be ideal for each team to play four home games, four away games, and at least three games against their individual division rivals, but changes to some team schedules would have to be made for this to occur.
Some are saying that if an eight game season takes place, teams would likely play the final eight games of their respective schedules. If this scenario takes place, what would it mean for the Denver Broncos?
It means no Oakland Raiders for one. That just seems wrong. It also means just three divisional games, with two games against the Kansas City Chiefs and one game against the San Diego Chargers. The team’s first game of the season would be against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, followed by what would have been a Thursday night game at home against the New York Jets. The next two games would be away games against San Diego and the Minnesota Vikings, followed by the much anticipated match-up where Denver hosts former Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears. The final three games of the season would include hosting the New England Patriots, playing away against the Buffalo Bills, and at home for the regular season finale against Kansas City.
With this schedule, four of the seven teams Denver would play were playoff teams from last year, including three division winners in Kansas City, New England, and Chicago. Five of the seven teams had winning records in 2010, with the worst regular season record of the bunch being a 4-12 season by Buffalo, which matches the record of the Broncos in 2010.
After last season, it seems there is nowhere to go but up for the Denver Broncos. But for the team to get better, they need more than a few weeks of prep time and a measly eight game season to do so. Granted, every other team in the league will be starting with the same amount of time to prepare, but not all teams are starting from square one. The new look Broncos defense, which was changed from a 3-4 to a 4-3 by new head coach John Fox, will have to put in a lot of work to improve what has otherwise been a very disappointing showing the last few seasons. They will also have to break in several new defensive players they picked up during the 2011 NFL Draft, chief among them being the second overall pick in the draft, linebacker Von Miller.
On offense, the team will finally have to answer the ongoing question on whether Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow will start at quarterback for the Broncos. But in actuality, the length of the schedule may make the decision for them. If a new CBA is reached and the season starts on schedule, the Broncos may lean toward starting the veteran Orton, as he will arguably give the team the best chance at competing right away. However, if a eight game schedule is the scenario, the team may roll the dice and choose to start Tebow. Since it may feel that a mere eight game season is an almost throw away year for a rebuilding team, the Broncos coaching staff may start Tebow over Orton to see how he will perform in those eight games, since many questions remain about Tebow’s ability to play the quarterback position at the professional level.
Everyone involved with the CBA situation wants a solution as early as possible so everything can get back to normal, but no one wants to see a new deal done more than the NFL fans. It seems that playing only an eight game regular season would be a worst case scenario, but it could actually get worse than that. There could be no football at all. Eight isn’t enough, but it’s better than nothing.
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