For football fans feening for action roughly two-and-half months into the NFL’s offseason, there is no better time than when the schedule gets released.
It happens every year in the middle of April, usually right around the draft. The news will sometimes trickle out in drips and drabs, but by the end of schedule release day, every team’s full regular-season slate will be posted on their website, giving fans something to look forward to and analyze.
Primetime matchups are obviously the first to be leaked. They’re the games many fans usually want to see most—the Thursday, Sunday and Monday night head-to-heads.
These contests are also the ones that tend to serve as a barometer for how the league did while building the schedule. Did they give fans matchups to get excited about not just early in the season, but also later in the year? Did any teams get the shaft when it comes to the number of nationally televised games? Is there a Super Bowl rematch on the docket during the regular season?
Sports bettors and fantasy football players will gravitate towards different information. They’ll want to see when teams are playing on shorter weeks (i.e. Thursday night football games), and when squads have their buy weeks. This intel will impact how people handle their fantasy drafts, and how they plan ahead for their bets.
Strength of schedule will also be a focus for just about everyone—fans, bettors, fantasy players, etc.
Certain teams play in divisions that are deeper and more competitive than others. This puts them up against an inherently more difficult schedule, so it’s important to see how their non-division schedule shakes to get a firm hold on just how hard their regular-season has come to be.
Last, but certainly not least, the NFL’s schedule release is a big time for oddsmakers. This is right around when sportsbooks will release the initial win-total over/under for every team. This is relevant not only to sports bettors who are looking to capitalize on early, more favorable odds, but it gives fans who don’t gamble a chance to see where their favorite teams are projected to finish relative to the rest of the league.
All of this, in turn, starts a series of discussions. Which teams have been overrated? How about underrated? Which teams are expected to tower over the rest?
These questions, and more, enter the forefront of the discourse—all thanks to the schedule release.