Inside The Bills

NFL talks to UB researchers on schedule fairness

Posted by Chris Brown on April 16, 2015 – 3:03 pm

Back in February a group of University at Buffalo researchers presented their paper at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytic Conference on systematic inequities in NFL scheduling dealing chiefly with matchups between teams with uneven rest leading up to those games. The research came in the wake of a report on the subject when the league’s 2013 schedule was released. The NFL is now apparently interested in comparing formulas to create more fairness in their scheduling.

That according to ESPN, which reported Thursday that Mike North, NFL Director of Broadcast Planning, and a key member of the league’s scheduling group, spoke with Dr. Murat Kurt and Dr. Mark Karwan, both UB professors. The report indicates that their model will not have an impact on the 2015 regular season schedule, which will reportedly come out in the next week, but that their input could be a factor in future years.

“We would look at this as something fun for us and maybe a help for the NFL,” Karwan told ESPN. “You can’t get a perfect schedule, but … our goal would be to show them that a lot of the schedules they generate could be improved.”

The report back in June 2013 revealed that more than half the league (17 teams) had one or no games against opponents coming off extra rest, while the Bills had five games against opponents that had extra rest prior to their matchup with Buffalo to lead the league.

The NFL stated that TV considerations for quality primetime matchups is one of the hurdles the league has to clear, which makes striking a more competitive balance difficult, but at least the league is trying to make an effort to level the playing field by consulting with the UB professors.

“It’s probably going to take two or three years to expand our method,” said Karwan. “It’s possible we’ll have to loosen some of our other conditions to make it work. But we have the ideas, and they said they could get us the data. Maybe it is a situation where we could eventually generate the 2018 schedule after it’s announced and then we can compare.”


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Bills addressed bye week opponents with NFL

Posted by Chris Brown on November 13, 2013 – 10:35 am

As we reported this past summer, the NFL schedule for 2013 scheduled six games for the Bills, three within their own division, in which their opponent would come off extra rest via a Thursday night game the week prior or a bye week. It was the highest total in the league, with Atlanta the only other team close in number with four. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon said he has brought issue up to the NFL and their schedule makers knowing the advantage it can provide to both players and coaches.

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship WGR Sportsradio 550, Brandon said the scheduling disadvantage Buffalo has experienced this season has been effectively communicated to the league.

“We certainly have talked to the league about this because it’s been disappointing where teams are coming off a bye or a long week,” said Brandon. “This (Sunday) is the second time we’re playing the Jets coming off a Thursday night game and now we’re playing them coming off a bye. We lead the league in amount of games coming off of extra time or a bye week. It is a very, very tough job what they have in scheduling with all the different things that go into the formula and the stadium commitments and TV schedules, but it’s certainly something that needs to be addressed.”


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Fan Friday 7-26

Posted by Chris Brown on July 26, 2013 – 11:50 am

Training camp is here as the players will be voluntarily reporting to camp today. The official report date is Saturday with the first practice Sunday night. We’ll have full coverage on with daily video reports (Bills Roundup), daily written practice reports and feature stories both written and video. As always this Inside the Bills blog will be updated constantly each day with extra news and tidbits of Bills information that you’re always looking for.

Continue to send any question you might have during the course of training camp and leading up to the season at my email or on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

For now let’s get to your latest edition of questions from those two places.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Who do you think will make the bills at 5th/6th receiver?


CB: I think the best candidates for those roles entering training camp are Da’Rick Rogers, Chris Hogan and Kevin Elliott. Those three turned in the most plays in the spring practices. Obviously that can change because when the pads go on the game gets considerably more physical and it can change how effective a receiver is depending on his character makeup and mettle.


2 – @ChrisBrownBills

With the Patriots turmoil do you see us closing the gap significantly this season? Will it be a competitive game week 1?


CB: Greg Bedard on the new Monday Morning Quarterback Column site did a great piece on how Bill Belichick has successfully navigated the Patriots through crises before from the QB change from Bledsoe to Brady, to the predicted revolt after Lawyer Milloy was released days before the season started and signed with the Bills, to Brady’s season-ending ACL injury back in 2008.

I think their depth of talent is thinner than it was during those setbacks, so the Patriots might slip a bit, but I don’t foresee a collapse. New England is a very consistent organization and Belichick is a master adjuster. He will only be more motivated to succeed with outsiders doubting his club.


3 – Chris,
Straight to the point: Of the 5 teams we play on extra rest how many of those games are played at home and by home I mean in Buffalo not Toronto? Clearly playing the Jets twice one of them will be away just curious about the rest of ’em.

Thanks for digging into the schedule you found some pretty compelling info that truly should be addressed. I may with my spare time look at schedules past for this discrepancy. I agree this is an issue worth citing. Keep up the great work!

Dominic Spaccio
Montour Falls NY

CB: Two of the five games in which their opponent coming off extra rest is at home. Those two are the Jets and Cincinnati. The Bills also face Atlanta at home after the advantage of their own bye week is neutralized by the fact that the Falcons are coming off a Thursday night game and will have 10 days rest between games while the Bills have 14. The Dolphins, Jaguars and Jets will come off extra rest to face Buffalo in their own home stadiums. Here’s the full story for those that missed it.


4 – Chris,
I understand that the GM has final say on draft day, free agent signings and undrafted signings. The GM assembles the talent pool.  What about the other end of the process – cutting from 90 players to 54 (or whatever the number is)?  It seems to me that whereas the GM is in the best position to draft (having scouted all year), the coach might be in the best position to make final cut decisions having worked closely with the players.  How do the Bills handle this?

Patrick in Indianapolis

CB: Roster decisions concerning player cuts are typically handled by the coaching staff with the head coach making the final call. General managers and personnel directors assemble the talent, but the coaching staff decides who he wants to keep.

That’s not to say that a general manager doesn’t have input, he does, especially on close calls for final roster decisions. That’s when a GM might be asked to offer an opinion.


5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Can the Bills use Gragg, in a similar way the Patriots used Hernandez? Using his speed to play a TE/WR hybrid?


CB: I think Gragg, who ran a 4.5 40-time at the Combine, best of all tight ends, is capable of lining up in a detached role almost like a tight receiver. So yes, I think he could be a hybrid type option in the Bills passing game for offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. It just depends how he fares when the pads go on at camp. He certainly flashed as a receiving threat in the spring practices.

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