The New England Patriots have one of the more backbreaking schedules in the league, due to their Week 4 bye, followed by just two 1:00 PM games over the next nine weeks. How did the league determine this schedule?
Monday Morning Quarterback's Peter King spoke with those responsible for crafting the schedule and it's a very interesting article. It looks like the Pope had an impact on one team's schedule. Here are all the Patriots nuggets:
1) The league specifically request Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning to be the final game of Thanksgiving weekend so everyone can watch them play on Sunday Night Football.
2) The Dallas Cowboys were set to play a Thanksgiving game against an AFC team on CBS (friends of Patriots owner Robert Kraft), but their only two home games were against the Patriots and Jets, both large markets. CBS wanted Patriots vs Cowboys to be a non-holiday afternoon game since its ratings would be fine, and same with the Jets; as a result, they moved on to have the Panthers play Dallas on Thanksgiving.
3) A One Direction concert at Gillette Stadium was bumped from September 10th to the 12th, in order to allow for the Patriots season opener. The four contending games were the Steelers, Eagles, Bills, and Jets. The Bills and Jets were nixed because of quarterback questions, while the Eagles were a close second place option. It turns out FOX wanted to have the Patriots-Eagles game later in the year (similar reasoning to the Patriots-Cowboys scheduling), so the Steelers were the final option.
There are a lot of other fun nuggets in the article, if you want to see how the scheduling sausage is made.