The dilemma of a season extended to 17 games in the NFL

There is no way for Dak Prescott to play all 17 games this regular season will feature. One was lost, due to a strained right calf.

But the Dallas quarterback can feel the consequences of adding a game to the season.

“I’ll just try to make sure we stay focused,” Prescott said before the Cowboys’ six-game winning streak came to an abrupt end Sunday with a 30-16 loss at Denver. “I think when you’re having the success that we have, the players get excited for that extra game, just to go out there and continue with what we have now, to get more momentum in the tournament.”

Coaches and players often mention the phrase that says: “the season is long”. Now, it’s hard to guess if it’s commonplace or if they’re thinking about that week that will add to four months of football, before the playoffs even begin.

The consensus indicates that it is probably too early to tell. But nobody ignores the new reality.

“I cut back on some activities at practice camp,” revealed Dallas coach Mike McCarthy. “From the initial plan that I put together, we probably met 90% in terms of workload capacity.”

Several years before Game 17 was added to the schedule, McCarthy was in Green Bay, where he changed the weekly routine to rest and recover more on Friday, before one last Saturday practice. The 17th game is perfect for doing that.

Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel lightened the effort for the Titans last week, before the most recent win in an impressive series, this time 28-16 at the Los Angeles Rams. The closest thing to practice came Friday, after light work the previous two days.

“There are too many … guys trying to get by despite problems and just looking to endure the wear and tear of the regular season,” Vrabel said. “I think the best thing is to try to be creative and find ways to improve. But there are also ways to take care of the kids and to get others to do some work. “

The Titans will be among the last teams to have their bye week of the season. It will be in week 13 (there are now 18 in the season).

The last break will come in week 14. This opens the possibility that the last teams to rest have an advantage in the final stretch.

The regular season will end on January 9. Never in history has it ended so late.

The Super Bowl will also be on an unusually late date, February 13. That is, it will take place 207 days after the date Dallas and Pittsburgh were the first teams to show up at their practice camps.

The preseason was shortened by a meeting.

“You definitely have to focus on recovery,” said Tennessee right tackle David Quessenberry, who hasn’t played a full season but is on track to do so this year. “That will be something important to be able to play every week in this league. But I always focus only on the next game. You have to be 100 percent to play your best next week. “

When asked if he remembered a year when he felt particularly worn out after 16 games, Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott had a clear answer.

“Every year. I think that by week 16 everyone is exhausted, even you (the journalists). It is a sport with a lot of physical contact. We plan to play more than 17 weeks anyway, ”he said.

That is probably the best attitude players can take. Everyone would prefer their season to conclude as close as possible to the July 21 date when the Cowboys performed inside their camp in Oxnard, California.

The Super Bowl will take place at SoFi Stadium, which opened a year ago in Inglewood, California.

Only the top seed from each conference will rest in the first round of the playoffs. So some teams could play 21 games in total. The Super Bowl champion must play at least 20 duels for the first time in history.

“When you contemplate this in the offseason before the season, you always want to play more than 16 games, so playing 17, 18, 19, 20 or whatever is the task that is required. And we’re going to respond to the challenge, ”Minnesota right tackle Brian O’Neill said.


AP journalists Dave Campbell, Teresa M. Walker and Tim Booth contributed to this report.

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The dilemma of a season extended to 17 games in the NFL