Trying to Understand Why the NFL Schedule Release Has Become So Important

The NFL schedule release has become of the biggest events on the sports calendar.
The 2024 NFL season will kick off with the Chiefs hosting the Ravens on Sept. 5.
The 2024 NFL season will kick off with the Chiefs hosting the Ravens on Sept. 5. / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

1. More than 123 million people watched this year’s Super Bowl.

More than 700,000 people attended this year’s NFL draft in Detroit.

The NFL’s stranglehold on this country is not news.

But what might be more impressive than Super Bowl ratings, NFL draft interest, TV money generated and everything else that shows the league's dominance over sports fans might be the fact that it has made the schedule release a big thing.

For weeks, there has been speculation about when the 2024 schedule would come out. The NFL officially announced Monday morning that the schedules for all 32 teams would be released this Wednesday.

The NFL Network will have a three-hour show dedicated to the schedule release, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN2 will also air a schedule release show. The NFL Network is bring back the currently-on-hiatus Good Morning Football for a day, with Peter Schrager, Kyle Brandt, Jason McCourty and Sherree Burruss on air Wednesday starting at 7 a.m. ET.

The amazing thing is that by the time the NFL Network and ESPN2 primetime shows air, we already know most of the schedule. Everything gets leaked. Primetime games, holiday games, international games. It all will trickle out beginning today, as we saw with the league revealing that the opening game on Thursday, Sept. 5 will feature the Baltimore Ravens visiting the Kansas City Chiefs on NBC.

And we know the following day, on Friday, Sept. 6, the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles will play in Brazil with the game airing exclusively on Peacock.

I’ve been trying to figure out why the schedule release is a big deal to fans.

My guess is a mix of things. For starters, every game in the NFL means something, minus a few games in the last weeks of the regular season when teams are eliminated. Unlike other major sports, the NFL doesn’t have a million regular-season games, so its regular-season schedule is highly important.

Also, the two things sports fans love to do more than anything else are predict things and argue. The schedule release is a perfect event to combine those activities.

Which team has the hardest schedule? Is the Thanksgiving schedule any good? How many wins will my team have when all is said and done?

Yes, teams know their opponents for the 2024 season before the schedule comes out, but they don’t know if they have hard stretches, easy stretches, quick turnarounds, etc.

Another factor is people can then begin to make plans if they have season tickets or intend to travel to games. They can also see if they’ll have any conflicts with life events such as weddings, birthdays, functions and other nonsense that some people might think is more important than football.

2. An important note on the team opening games I mentioned in the lead item. DraftKings has lines and they are as follows:

Chiefs -3 vs. Ravens
Over/Under: 47.5

Eagles -1.5 vs. Packers
Over/Under: 48.5

3. NBA fans were blessed to have TNT’s Kevin Harlan on the call for the Nuggets scoring eight points in the final 20 seconds of the first half against Minnesota on Sunday night, and, as always, Harlan came through.

4. Good inside-broadcasting stuff here from ESPN’s JJ Redick, who gave us a peek at what he has in front of him during a broadcast.

5. Funny stuff here from Novak Djokovic if you missed it over the weekend. On Friday, a water bottle that had fallen out of a fan’s backpack ended up hitting Djokovic on the head and taking him down. (That wasn’t the funny part.)

This is how Djokovic showed up to the court on Saturday.

6. The latest SI Media With Jimmy Traina podcast features a conversation with Katie Nolan.

Nolan, who is a lifelong New England Patriots fans, breaks down all aspects of The Roast of Tom Brady on Netflix: best and worst roasters, what made her cringe, what was wrong with Ben Affleck, why was Bill Belichick so enjoyable, why was Kim Kardashian there, why was it so long and much, much more.

Nolan also talks about where her career is at, why she didn't join Dan Le Batard's Meadowlark Media when she was offered a job there, what she's looking for in sports media, her appearance on Celebrity Jeopardy! and more.

Following Nolan, Sal Licata from WFAN and SNY joins me for our weekly "Traina Thoughts" segment. This week's topics include more on the Brady roast, the Drake–Kendrick Lamar beef, the Kentucky Derby, Netflix possibly airing Christmas Day NFL games and more.

You can also listen to the SI Media With Jimmy Traina below or on Apple and Spotify.

You can also watch SI Media With Jimmy Traina on Sports Illustrated‘s YouTube channel.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Happy 74th birthday to Stevie Wonder.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.

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Jimmy Traina

JIMMY TRAINA

Jimmy Traina is a media writer and podcast host for Sports Illustrated. A 20-year veteran, he’s been covering the media industry for seven years and writes a weekly column at SI, Traina Thoughts. Jimmy has hosted the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast since 2018, a show known for interviews with some of the most important and powerful people in sports media. He also was the creator and writer for SI’s Hot Clicks feature from 2007 to 2013.