By John Turney
games. We agree. As long as they don't extend the NFL season to 17 or 18 games.
But how to shorten the preseason is the question. How about this: Have each team play its division rivals for the preseason on a round robin basis. One year a given team would have two home games and the next year one.
The benefits are many. First, since rivalry games are now closer to the end of the season teams would be able to get a good look at their division rivals early in the season and could potentially help them better prepare for the late-season games and stepping up the competition slightly.
Next, often these teams are in the same time zone. Last week the Vikings returned to Minneapolis at 6 A.M. after their trip to Seattle. What purpose does that serve for a preseason game against a non-division rival?
The next point is related, not only the travel time but the travel costs would be reduced. Since owners would be losing a game of revenues they could make up for it by reducing the costs for the remaining three games.
Fourth, the fans who do not have season tickets could be able to see division rivals live since often the late-season rivalry games are sold out.
Fifth, the level of competition may be slightly higher, giving the fans in the stadium and those watching on television or their devices a better product. Yes, it will still be preseason football and many backups would be playing the majority of the games, but when playing a division rival perhaps the vets would stir up the competitive juices of the youngsters and the games would be a bit more competitive. Yes, we know, that's a stretch but hey, it's just an idea.
So, if the NFL is set on reducing the preseason to three games, we think this is a great idea to preserve some of the integrity of the product.