NFL Schedule Breakdown: Overrated

When did announcing a list of games become fit for pomp and circumstance?

For the life of me, I can't remember how I found out the NFL schedule before this season. It was probably posted online, or it may have taken until the next morning's newspaper to find it out, but somehow it never seemed like something that should be made into a bigger deal. That's not the way the NFL works, though, and last night they turned an announcement of dates and times into a primetime television spectacular.

My feelings aren't changed. Is it fun to do a bit of wishcasting about that Week Two matchup between the Jets and a rebuilt Tom Brady? Sure, and it's worth a glance to see when the Lions might actually win another game and a dozen other little happenings. That takes five minutes, though, and then the schedule can go into a drawer for the next four and a half months until you have some idea what the teams playing these games might actually look like.

After all, what's the point of drooling over a Week 16 rematch of last year's stellar Panthers-Giants game when none of us has any idea if Eli ManningJonathan Stewart or Julius Peppers will even be taking part in the festivities. NFL seasons change too much while they're going on to start forecasting records in April based on the release of a schedule.

The Jets were 8-3 at one point last season and the Cardinals were a paper tiger that couldn't hang with really good teams. Tom Brady played less than a quarter, Plaxico Burress shot himself in the thigh and a million other things happened that made looking at a schedule and saying that this team got screwed about as meaningful as one night with a hooker in Amsterdam.

A big part of the beauty of sports is the stuff you don't see coming, the unpredictability and the great game and performance that sneaks up on you out of nowhere. It takes you where it wants to go, with no respect for the predictive path set out by those who are analyzing schedules all over the country on Wednesday, and that's just the way it should be.  

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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