Posts by Mark Kelly - CKMagicSports

Sports Historian that is well versed at the four major sports first, then College Hoops, Football, Olympics, Tennis, Golf and NASCAR. Former ESPN Researcher in Bristol, CT. After a 10-year career working in everything from SportsCenter to ESPNNEWS to Cold Pizza. Had to retire due to complications from Cancer treatment. I am a now 25-year survivor that still suffers everyday from the side effects of chemotherapy & radiation. Suffer from Crohn's disease and Lymphedema everyday and started a website called that I do podcasts on that you can help support by clicking on KNOCKOUTCANCER link on my CKMagicSports website. Read more about my 25-year battle with the disgusting side effects of this disease here.

Time to Change NFL Schedule System

If anyone wants to check 14 of your favorite teams 16 games for the next 30 seasons in the NFL, you can. Does that bother anyone else but me? Is it stupid for me to be annoyed that I can look up all but 2 of the Chicago Bears opponents for the 2032 season right now? How can that be, you ask? Well, for those who are not acquainted with how the NFL makes their schedule from year to year, it goes like this.

There are 32 teams that fit ever so nicely into 8 divisions. In order to show how a schedule is made each season, lets take the 2017 New England Patriots. The Patriots play teams in the AFC East (their division) TWICE in a home an home series, so that’s 6 games.

The rest of the Patriots schedule in 2017 is filled out by facing a division in their own conference (AFC) and a division in the NFC. In 2017, the AFC East plays the AFC West and NFC South. Home games and away games are determined by rotation. For example, the last time the Patriots played the AFC West as a division on their schedule was in 2014. That season they played the Raiders and Broncos at home and the Chiefs and Chargers on the road. For 2017, they switch and play the Raiders and Broncos on the road, and the Chiefs and Chargers at home. That brings the number of games played up to 10.

In 2017 the NFC division that the Patriots play is the NFC South (the other conference schedule is also done on a rotating basis). The previous time the Patriots played the NFC South in 2013, they played the Saints and Buccaneers at home and Falcons and Panthers on the road. For 2017, they play the opposite facing the Saints and Bucs on the road and the Falcons and Panthers at home. That brings the number of games played up to 14.

The final 2 games on the Patriots 2017 schedule have yet to be determined, as they are based on where the Patriots finish in their division in 2016 and how the two interconference divisions the Patriots aren’t playing (the AFC North and South) finish. For instance, if the Patriots finish first in the AFC East, they play the first place teams in the AFC North and South. If they finish 2nd in the AFC East, they play the second place teams in the AFC North and South, etc..etc…

NFL Schedule Maker
Total Games
Teams in own division TWICE 6
Interconference Division ONCE 4
Intraconference Division ONCE 4
Interconference Position from other 2 divisions 2

For those who love competitive balance, this schedule looks like a good idea. All of the teams in the same division play just about the same exact schedule minus 2 games that are left to how the team finished the season before. I certainly think its a nice and neat way to organize the leagues schedule for the next 5-30 years, but I question how much it really helps the competitive balance overall.

If you are a last place team in the AFC East (say the Jets) and you go 3-13, it’s got to be a hard revelation that the next season you are basically playing the same exact schedule as the 14-2 Patriots. How is that a good idea? Sure, in some divisions the difference between a 10-6 division winner and a 7-9 last place team isn’t that much, but how about for the example of the AFC East? An 11 game difference is pretty big in a season where only 16 games are played. So, how can we make this better for all teams and guarantee, like most of the European Soccer leagues, that success the year before means a tougher schedule the next season.

Here is my suggestion, and its pretty simple. Teams opponents the next season, outside of their division of course, are determined by the place they finish in said division. For instance, if the Colts finish 1st in the AFC South, they play their division opponents twice (6 games), each of the teams that finished first in their conference twice (6 games), and all 4 teams that finished first in the other conference (4 games). The opposite conferences will rotate on a season to season basis for what plays what division at home and on the road (AFC East winner plays at NFC East winner one year, then flips the next season).

If you think its crazy that you would play teams outside of your division twice in a season, think again. The NFL used to allow that in earlier schedule diagrams. From 1978 to 1995, the NFL, due to its unbalanced divisions with a four-time division and two five team divisions in each conference, had a 5th-place schedule where a team would play the other 5th place team in their conference twice.

With my schedule you don’t penalize the last place team by making them play a schedule equal to that of a first place team. This also creates a large number of entertaining games for every season, guaranteeing that just about each week you will see a pair of first place teams from the year before matching up against each other.

If you are a last place team this gives you a healthy chance of having a successful next season without having to worry about being overwhelmed with facing just as many playoff teams as the teams that finished 1st and 2nd in your division the year before. I never really understood why the NFL wanted to make each team in the same division basically play the same schedule. To me. that creates a much more generic NFL season.

New Schedule System
Play each team in division twice 6 games
Play each interconference division place twice* 6 games
Play each Intraconference division place once* 4 games
*Based on finish from previous season 16 games

I’m open to other suggestions. Please let me know yours.

Historic Warning Signs for Matt Forte

One of the major moves the Jets made in the offseason was not to re-sign popular and bruising RB Chris Ivory, instead choosing to dip into the free agent market and bring in former Bears RB Matt Forte.

The numbers leading up to this season, and a major reason why the Jets were fine with replacing Ivory with Forte, are impressive. Forte gives the Jets more of a duel threat coming out of the backfield, as he is very adept at catching the ball.

Since 2008 Forte has posted 12,608 yards from scrimmage, which is the most  in the NFL over that span (Adrian Peterson of Minnesota is next with 11,935). Forte’s 4,082 receiving yards since 2008 is just 13 behind Darren Sproles for most in the NFL by a RB since 2008. Its obvious by those two stats that Forte has been a monster at producing for the Bears so far in his career. However, Forte has now reached the age of no return for RB (30) and history shows that is when RB start to make a steep decline in production.

The Jets have had the pleasure of suiting up Hall of Fame RB Curtis Martin, John Riggins and LaDainian Tomlinson. However, they haven’t enjoyed much success with RB in their first season playing for the Green & White. In the history of the Jets, only Curtis Martin and Thomas Jones ran for over 1,000 yards in their first season with the team.

Most Rush Yards
First Season w/New York Jets
TD Age
1998 Curtis Martin 1,287 8 25
2007 Thomas Jones 1,119 1 29
1964 Matt Snell 948 5 23
2010 LaDanian Tomlinson 914 6 31
2013 Chris Ivory 833 3 25

One other major concern for the Jets is the age of Matt Forte. The list of running backs in their first season who are 30 or older to run for 1,000 yards is a very short list. Only 4 running backs over 30 in the history of the NFL have rushed for over 1,000 yards in their first season with a new team. All of those running backs were younger than Forte, who will turn 31 in December.

Only 23running backs in the history of the NFL have rushed for over 1,000 yards at the age of 31 or over. Forte will turn 31 in December.  Looking at those 2 lists, the prospects of Forte coming over and making a huge splash in the running game is not very likely.

Most Rushing Yards
First Season w/team – Age 30 or older
TD Age
2004 Corey Dillon NE 1,635 12 30
2011 Willis McGahee DEN 1,199 4 30
2000 Lamar Smith MIA 1,139 14 30
1992 Herschel Walker PHI 1,070 8 30

In today’s NFL, the heavy workload that single RB used to carry has reduced over the last few seasons as more and more teams have adopted the running back by committee theory. The Jets added Khiry Robinson and currently are testing out a bunch of RB to help lighten the workload for Forte this season. However, along with the hamstring injury that Forte has suffered that has made him miss all of the preseason so far, their other RB have hard a hard time staying healthy as well.

One thing is for certain, if the Jets are to get a sustained running attack this season, Matt Forte is going to need some help.