The new NFL CBA opens the door for more games outside the United States


The new NFL CBA allows for 17 regular season games. Rather than giving some teams the advantage of nine home games, look for the league to go  international.

The recent news that the NFL players have approved the most recent CBA means that league operations should continue without interruption for the next decade. The addition of a 17th regular season game to the schedule will have a number of interesting ramifications for the league.

The obvious issue is that players will take more of a pounding with the addition of another regular season game. Rates of injuries will be studied and scrutinized heavily starting in the 2020 season. The public is well aware of how the 17th game might impact player availability.

What’s not being discussed is how the addition of a 17th game is going to effect the home/road competitive balance in the NFL. A 16 game schedule allows each team eight home games and eight road games. Ostensibly, the addition of a 17th game would give some teams nine home games every other season. That plan would give those teams a competitive advantage in their hopes of securing a postseason berth.

That may be what the NFL does initially, but at some point, owners will begin to complain about that competitive in-balance. It’s foolish to think that league officials haven’t foreseen that potential outcome.

That’s why the new CBA will inevitably lead to an increase in neutral site games. The easiest way to maintain competitive balance in terms of home and road games is to give every team a game on a neutral site.

That strategy would allow the NFL to drastically increase its global reach. Every team playing one regular season game outside of the United States would do wonders for the game’s appeal in other key markets. Games in London and Mexico City are already cash cows for the league. Imagine adding potentially lucrative markets like China or India to the regular season slate.

Next: New CBA puts Titans in a tough spot

The NFL understands that expanding their international fan base is the key to increasing profits in the future. That may not be the reason why owners pushed so hard for a 17th regular season game, but it’s going to go down as a happy, unintended consequence. NFL fans outside the United States should be excited about the approval of this CBA. In time, it’s going to allow more regular season games to be hosted in other countries.

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