NFL to play 16 games, make up for last week's missed games in first week of January

Wednesday, September 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The NFL will play a full 16-game schedule this season, making up last week's missed games in the first week of January.

And while it may reduce the number of playoff teams from 12 to eight, commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Tuesday that full playoffs are still a possibility.

Tagliabue said the league's competition committee had voted unanimously to keep the 16-game format, switching the games called off last weekend to the weekend of Jan. 5-7, when wild-card games had been scheduled.

But he said the committee is still looking at ways to keep the normal complement of 12 playoff teams rather than eight. That would mean three division winners and three wild-card teams in each conference would make the playoffs rather than the three winners and just one wild card.

``This would be the best of both worlds. If they can keep the 16-game schedule and the six wild cards, then everybody's happy. It's just back to business,'' said coach Mike Sherman of Green Bay, one of many teams whose playoff chances would be hurt badly if the NFL cut back on wild cards.

``I'll be curious to see what follows after this,'' added Andy Reid of Philadelphia, another team that might be affected. ``I'd hate to disrupt the playoffs in that situation. ... I'm sure they'll come up with an answer for it. They understand the importance of the playoffs.''

The league could consider moving the Super Bowl, to be played in New Orleans, from Jan. 27 to Feb. 3. There is only a one-week break this year after the championship games.

When the teams return, they may have the regular officials back.

Two NFL sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the executive committee of the NFL Referees Association was voting by e-mail on a proposal by the league that would end the lockout that lasted through the final game of preseason and the first game of the regular season.