1. If you miss football and you’re not watching the XFL right now in hopes that it fails, you’re part of the problem. It’s awesome, so WATCH IT.

Back to business ...

The Kansas City Chiefs are the 2020 Super Bowl Champions and we seem to have ushered in a new era of American football. So of course it’s already time to look forward to next season, even though we do have the XFL to hold us over until the NFL Draft. Before that is explored however, there are a few changes to the league that would benefit owners, players, personnel, and fans altogether.

Replay Rule(s)

After the egregious miss-call in the 2019 NFC Championship, the National Football League made a unique change to their challenge rules; adding in pass interference penalties that were called or went uncalled to the list of plays eligible for challenges. The idea was to create a sense of better control for teams like the Saints, who felt some sort of injustice because of what transpired the year before.

Cry me a river.

This was an extreme, and emotional overstep by the NFL to appease a fan base that is constantly complaining. You should be able to go back and review plays like pass interference, sure, but it should not be a part of the challenge rules.

If they want it to be, there’s no telling where the line can/should be drawn, and every play should be eligible for review. And why can’t there be an impartial replay official up in a box at every game?

If they want to outsource people from the replay headquarters they say have in New York, that’s fine, but why do they have to be stationed there? It would be a maximum of 16 guys they’d need to have one at each game every week to dedicate their time to replay, and replay only. I don’t know if you get rid of challenges altogether, but if the league is going to expand the rules for reviewable plays it will need to amend the replay processes as well. My suggestion? The fact is, the ability for coaches to have up to three challenges in a game is absolutely unnecessary and too much.

From 1999-2016, the average review(s) per game was 1.3 and having the accessibility to challenge so many times when it doesn’t happen that much is something that can be changed easily. Right now, if a coach uses and wins both of his challenges in a game, they can get a third challenge. With the addition of pass interference penalties this past season, it widened the spectrum for replay without much change or success.

Solution:

Each team gets two challenges only. The first is for any play that fits the previously decided criteria, minus the pass interference rules they made this past season. And if you win the first challenge, the second may be used on ANY play outside of that 2:00 warning, where everything is reviewable.

This gives teams a chance to challenge a regular play like usual, but gives that added ability of potential looks on penalties that may have been missed, or called prematurely.

Preseason

Very simple change here. Shorten the preseason to three games. By the time these games actually get played, I would bet money, in New Jersey where it’s legal, that a majority of any fans remotely familiar with the league/their favorite team, could name 90-95% of the guys that make the final roster. Do they know better than scouts, coaches, trainers, and other team personnel in the front office? I would argue that they do not. This implies that the teams could be assembled with three games to play in this preliminary exhibition month. This proposition will be explained further in the following reconfiguration.

Pro Bowl Change

Everyone complains year after year, that the National Football League’s version of an all-star game doesn’t have any intrigue for enough people to be interested in watching it. At their cores, all-star games are really just glorified exhibitions with nothing at stake. In Major League Baseball tried to add flare to their version, by awarding the winning league with home-field advantage in that season’s World Series from 2003-2016. Traditionalists prevailed in recent years to get rid of that ridiculous stipulation, but that remains the only time where real implications outside of bragging rights were at stake in these types of contests.

The NFL Pro Bowl used to be played the week after the Super Bowl, in a traditional AFC vs NFC format. It has changed quite a bit since then. In 2010 it was decided to move the Pro Bowl back two weeks, and play it on the off-Sunday between Championship Sunday and Super Bowl Sunday.

The idea was to increase viewership by rescheduling the game on a Sunday with no football. This had an adverse effect on the product itself though, because it basically ruled out any players that were voted as Pro Bowlers, but were playing in the championship the following week. They’d never risk getting any kind of injury the week before playing the biggest game of their lives.

A few years ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell even contemplated getting rid of the game altogether because of the lack of ratings and apathy by the fans.

However the NFLPA bargained to save it and for those players that don’t make the Super Bowl, it is a nice bonus on most of their contracts if they’re selected as Pro Bowlers and having a vacation to Hawaii in the dead of winter for a week is not something they were going to give up on at the drop of a hat.

They tried to spice things up further when they implemented a Pro Bowl Draft of sorts, moving away from the tradition of a straight up AFC vs NFC format. Personally, I never liked that idea.

Solution:

The National Football League already has the biggest reach when it comes to staying relevant year-round. From training camp storylines in June and July, to the last few roster spots getting filled through August and the preseason, from kicking off in September through the Super Bowl on the first Sunday in February.

Then before the end of the month, the NFL Scouting Combine and countless mock-drafts afterwards, leading up to the NFL Draft in the last week of April. The sheer amount of time the media and sports fanatics put into following and researching the National Football League is unparalleled.

There’s clocks counting down on social media already, that will hit zero when the next regular season kicks off and the Super Bowl just ended last week. When there’s time off in between games for football, it is missed like no other sport is.

That is why, after careful consideration, I vote that the Pro Bowl should be moved to the week prior to the regular season.

In conjunction with shortening the preseason to three games, the players that were voted as all-stars the previous season, would then play the following fall in the Pro Bowl.

Concerned about injuries? So are the guys that are actually making the millions playing football, so I’m not sure the effort and pace of play would get too much more competitive than it is now.

Admittedly, that is one of the main reasons a lot of fans don’t watch the Pro Bowl in the first place. However, I believe playing it after a three-week preseason will get extraordinarily higher ratings and intrigue than the way it is now.

It’ll serve as another opportunity for the stars to get loose before the season, and a chance for the viewers to see all-stars, instead of third, fourth, and fifth string players in the last exhibition game before the real show begins in September.

Overtime Rules

A lot of complaints are thrown around each season about the NFL’s rules for overtime. It used to be a traditional sudden death style where the first points scored by either team ended the game.

Recently it was changed to the second team to possess the ball in overtime will get a redemption chance if the receiving team only kicks a field goal on their opening drive.

This was a sentiment to appease the widely shared opinion that kickers are not athletes. Still, in this format, a touchdown or a safety would end the game immediately.

This leaves a lot of unanswered questions about potential outcomes if only one team has the ball in overtime, and the other team never gets their offense on the field. Many people will annoyingly retort, “well stop them with your defense then,” which is an analyst’s way of sticking their tongue out like a child, while still dressing as an adult.

Solution:

The time on the clock for the overtime period should not differ from the others, so set it at 15:00. Whether the first score is a field goal or a touchdown, the other team should be afforded one possession with a chance to take the lead to end the game, or tie it.

If after each team’s first drive the score is still tied, shift it to traditional sudden death overtime.

Not much different from the current rules, just the added caveat of the guaranteed second possession, so the first team cannot just score a touchdown and end it. However, if the first score is a safety, the game ends.

Predictions for 2020…and beyond?

QB Carousel – Predictions

Tom Brady ... signs with the Los Angeles Chargers

Drew Brees ... re-signs with the New Orleans Saints

Philip Rivers ...signs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cam Newton ... signs with the Las Vegas Raiders

Derek Carr ... gets traded to the Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, or New England Patriots

Dak Prescott ... gets phased out of Dallas, signs a Nick Foles-sized contract next offseason, and gets hurt the following year, just like Nick Foles

Carson Wentz ... gets injured 2 more times over the next 2 seasons, traded somewhere random like Tennessee, Pittsburgh, or Indianapolis, and makes multiple healthy playoff runs after he leaves the Philadelphia Eagles

Ryan Tannehill ... re-signs with Tennessee on one year deal, retires after he loses the starting job in training camp to……Jameis Winston

Marcus Mariota ... signs with the New England Patriots

Teddy Bridgewater ... signs with either the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Indianapolis Colts

Early Award Picks

NFL MVP – Russell Wilson

Offensive POTY – Christian McCaffrey*

Defensive POTY – Josh Allen

Offensive ROTY – Joe Burrow

Defensive ROTY – Jeff Okudah

Coach of the Year – Kyle Shanahan (he was robbed this season)

Comeback POTY – Cam Newton

*McCaffrey will have a 2,500 yard season next year, and a 3,000 total yard season by 2025

2020 Division Winners & Wild Cards

AFC East – Buffalo Bills

AFC North – Baltimore Ravens

AFC South – Tennessee Titans

AFC West – Kansas City Chiefs

AFC Wild Cards – New England Patriots, Houston Texans

NFC East – Dallas Cowboys

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South – New Orleans Saints

NFC West – Seattle Seahawks

NFC Wild Cards – San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams

Super Bowl – Baltimore Ravens vs New Orleans Saints

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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