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Sweet 17 | Vandermeer's View

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Your Texans will play 17 games in 2021 (We hope more! If you know what I'm saying). The preseason has officially been cut down to three games, with one of them being at home for 2021. Carolina will be the extra regular season game, at home. In 2022, the Texans will play eight games at home and nine on the road, with two preseason home games. You following this?

Earlier, reports were circulating that every eight years, all teams will have to host at least one home game on foreign soil. This opens up a ton of possibilities (Germany, anyone!).

It'll be new and exciting. Yes. It's a lot of games. Some pundits feel 16 is plenty, or too much or whatever. Remember, the high school teams that play in Texas state championship games play 16 games. College national championship participants usually play 14. So there's that.

More football is a good thing and change is inevitable. There was a time, pre 1946, when the number of games varied each season based on the number of teams in the NFL. Some years it was 11. Some seasons saw 14 games. Weird, but necessary. This was before the days of big revenue from massive TV deals. Teams were added and subtracted from the league with much more frequency than today.

Then the league spent a decade and a half playing a set 12 game schedule before going to 14 in 1961 to compete with the upstart AFL (Kids, the AFL was an NFL competitor. That's the big deal about the Jets and Joe Namath winning the Super Bowl, it was a win for the AFL. The teams eventually became the AFC, with some add-ons from other incumbent NFL squads, like the Colts).

The 16 game schedule took hold in 1978, two years after the Seahawks and Tampa Bay Bucs joined the league (somehow Tom Brady was already born by this point).

The extra game will put a premium on player safety and health. The season is brutal on the players' bodies and it'll be interesting to see how it plays out medically. This will be an ongoing topic.

I know certain people (John Harris, are you reading this?) will be disappointed that the perfect symmetry of 16 games, six in the division, four against an AFC division, four against an NFC division and two extra division tilts based on finishes, will be lost. And yes, it's too bad that we couldn't just declare an NFC annual rival like the Cowboys. But that would not work in many NFL cities.

Look at the bright side. .500 seasons are gone. You'll have a winning or losing campaign. Kind of like when college football had 11 games and 5-6 or 6-5 was a make or break mark (anyone remember 6-5 Michigan trying to spoil BYU's national championship hopes in the Holiday Bowl?).

It's more football and it's more fun. Plus, many years we'll see the Super Bowl played on Presidents' Day weekend. Can we make that a thing? Is it August yet?

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