Mark Maske of The Washington Post tweeted that it should be fairly obvious when the NFL schedule is released how it could be shortened if needed. The NFL schedule will be released on May 9. The Athletic’s Matt Barrows followed up with that tweet saying, “it sounds like all division games would be scheduled for November, December, and all the non-conference games would take place during the first two months of the season.
If you’re unfamiliar with college sports, that’s exactly what the NCAA does. Whether that’s basketball, football, or any major sport. You play your non-conference games first, and then you play your conference games. The difference is the 49ers can’t schedule a cupcake like New Mexico state. I think it already is, but after the NFL Draft, the NFC West could be viewed as the toughest, most competitive division in the NFL.
The 49ers play the AFC West this year, so they’d travel to the Jets and the Patriots and have home games against the Bills and Dolphins. The non-division games are at Dallas and New Orleans while playing home games against Philadelphia, Green Bay, and Washington. If the schedule is going to be set up this way, it puts pressure on teams to win those early-season games, so they don’t have to sweep their division. You don’t want to enter the second half of the season with a .500 winning percentage before you have played the teams that know you the most.
We saw how tough it was to get past Arizona last season. Nobody is going to argue that the 49ers aren’t a superior team to the rest of the division, but you never know in the NFL. A team may have an injury one week or lack motivation the next. We will find out the order of the Niners games in three weeks.