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Mike North on the Intricacies of Making the NFL Schedule

National Football League VP of Broadcast Planning Mike North, one of the league’s key executives involved in creating the schedule every year, joined the 33rd Team Call this week to talk about the details that go into making the NFL schedule.

North works closely with Howard Katz, the NFL’s Senior VP of Broadcast and Media. He praised Katz as the person responsible for scheduling all division games on the final Sunday of the season.

“He is an absolute proponent,” said North. “He’s the one who brought all division games to the final week of the season and he’s constantly looking to have even more division games – not only all games in Week 18, but more division games in Week 17, Week 16…

“It’s almost like the old college basketball schedule, where you play your non-conference games first and then you get ready for your conference schedule, and that’s where you make or break your season.”

The newest challenge this year was adding a 17th regular-season game. The schedule makers regularly look for trends and anything that can inform them on future schedules. North did express a specific concern about the extra game.

“The bigger the sample size, the more likely that the cream rises to the top,” he said. “We’re a little concerned that teams that were likely to win their division, you give them a few more games to play and the likelihood that they’re going to win their division probably increases.

“If you’re the best team in the league, the smaller the sample size the more likely that somebody can pull an upset. The bigger the sample size, the more likely that you’re going to separate yourself.”

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