Thursday, January 9, 2014

NFL: Let's Talk About Extra Wildcards, London Team, Reseeding Playoffs

NFL commish Roger Goodell had a little pow-wow and discussed several topics.  Among them were adding a third wildcard slot to each conference, reseeding the playoffs, having a team in London and having another Super Bowl in a cold weather city.

So I'd like to take the opportunity to throw my two cents in there on each topic.


I'm not the biggest fan of this, but I wouldn't be outraged if this happened.  If you took this season for example, that would mean the Arizona Cardinals (who were 10-6) would've gotten in for the NFC and the always dangerous Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) would get in for the AFC.  We would've had a Arizona-Carolina game as well as Pittsburgh-New England over the weekend and that wouldn't have been too shabby.

When stuff like this happens, I like to look at how that rule would've impacted past seasons.  So let's see the last ten seasons:

2013-Cardinals (10-6), Steelers (8-8)
2012-Bears (10-6), Steelers (8-8)
2011-Bears (8-8), Titans (9-7)
2010-Giants (10-6), Chargers (9-7)
2009-Falcons (9-7), Texans (9-7)
2008-Buccaneers (9-7), Patriots (11-5)
2007-Vikings (8-8), Browns (10-6)
2006-Packers (8-8), Broncos (9-7)
2005-Vikings (9-7), Chiefs (10-6)
2004-Saints (8-8), Jaguars (9-7)

As you can see, this would have added six teams that won 10 games into the playoffs ... with zero teams that finished under 8-8.  With the ability of wildcard teams to win the Super Bowl, that adds a bit of championship fever to two more cities each January.  The point is that any argument that adding another wildcard team to the mix would water the postseason down is just plain wrong.

The next logistical point is when to have these playoff games?  Right now, the Wildcard Round has Saturday games at 4:00p and 8:00pm with Sunday games at the normal times of 1:00pm and 4:30pm (all ET).  Sure, adding a 1:00pm game on Saturday and an 8:00pm game on Sunday would make the most sense.  Then you could have NBC host the two night games with Fox and CBS doing their normal thing during the days.  Or keep NBC with Saturday, Fox and CBS splitting Sunday and then have the two games up for bid with either those three networks or ESPN netting it.

Goodell is thinking outside the box and is considering maybe having a game on Monday night.  While that could be a sweet deal, if could place one team at a huge competitive advantage.  With three conference playoff games over a weekend, it would really limit some TV slotting with a Monday game.  Say for instance that the Steelers at Patriots game was at Monday night (let's consider that the Chargers beat the Bengals and Colts beat the Chiefs as it really did).  A Steelers win would send them to Denver with the other playoff game the Chargers at Colts; a Pats win and they host the Colts and the Chargers head to Denver.  That would mean the Colts ... who played on Saturday ... would get to play the Patriots who played on Monday.  That's two days of extra rest and preparation.  It really isn't fair.

So I'm okay with adding a playoff team but not extending the weekend for it.


There are some that don't think it is fair that the 12-4 San Francisco 49ers had to go and play the 8-7-1 Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field.  Some say that it isn't fair.  I totally disagree.

I love the NFL's postseason setup.  It is one of the few sports leagues where I like the divisional aspect of it.  Win your division ... no matter how crappy it is ... and you host a playoff game.  You can't win your division and you don't get to (unless you are the 5th seed hosting the 6th seed in the conference title game).

What opponents want of this is to have the same criteria for making the playoffs there, but you seed those teams by record.  So this year's NFC playoffs would have looked like this:

1-Seahawks (13-3), 2-Panthers (12-4), 3-49ers (12-4), 4-Saints (11-5), 5-Eagles (10-6), 6-Packers (8-7-1).

Sound fair?  Not really.

The NFL has a very unbalanced schedule.  You play six games against teams in your division, four against one entire non-conference division, four against an entire intraconference division and two other teams that finished in the same place as you in your conference.

I will say that using this season is a bad example.  The Seahawks and 49ers arguably played in the toughest division, but did have the lowly Rams to beat up on.  But everyone in the NFC had a lowly team to beat on in their division (Redskins, Vikings, Falcons) and the NFC South had two (Buccaneers).  The Saints and Panthers had to face the NFC West this year which featured three teams who won at least 10 games.

I'm sorry but I like the fact that you win your division and you get that home playoff game.  Every division winner right now gets at least one with the conference championship game being someone's second game.  It is a proper reward in a league that does weigh towards divisions.  Plus, it means the NFL has games in the north, south, east and west.  Imagine if the NFL had games in Seattle, San Francisco, Denver and Kansas City this weekend?  It could've happened if you added in the third wildcard and reseeded playoffs.

NFC:  7-Packers beat 2-Panthers, 3-49ers beat 6-Cardinals, 4-Saints beat 5-Eagles ... 1-Seahawks bye
AFC:  7-Steelers beat 2-Patriots, 6-Chargers beat 3-Bengals, 5-Chiefs beat 4-Colts ... 1-Broncos bye

Division round:  Packers at Seahawks, Saints at 49ers;  Steelers at Broncos, Chargers at Chiefs

This week in reality, games are in Seattle, Denver, Charlotte and Foxborough, MA.


I'm not for or against this on its own.  I am, however, not for a weak expansion.  I don't want the NFL to, say, add a team in London and one in Los Angeles and we have this 34 team league where one division in each conference has a 5th team and three have 4.  Not a big fan of that.  Unless you have a full scale expansion with eight teams to place one in each division or, I'm not a fan but, four teams where half the divisions have 5 and the other half has 4 then I'm not buying into it (more on this in a second).

That would mean the NFL would have to see one of its current teams move to London.  The Los Angeles issue isn't as dire since both the Chargers and Raiders would be prime candidates for a move to LA.  But who would go to London?  The prime candidate is the Jacksonville Jaguars who struggle to see out and wouldn't leave a major void in its market (Florida still has two NFL teams).  The other candidate is the St. Louis Rams who don't have the cushy stadium deal that most everyone else in the league has.  Tampa Bay?  Not likely before the Jags.

Anyone else?  No.  The usual suspects of the last decade all got new stadiums (Colts, Vikings) or aren't really looking to bolt (Panthers, Bills).  But who knows.

If I was czar of all sports, I'd have the Jags move to London, the Raiders back to Los Angeles.  Since it isn't a geographic necessity, keep the London Jaguars in the AFC South.


No.  Don't do it.  The Super Bowl isn't only about the actual game, but all the stuff around the game.  The sun and fun in South Beach.  The partying in New Orleans.  Whether it is Glendale, AZ, Dallas, Atlanta, Tampa or Houston, we get to have fun with all kinds of events and parties and all that.  Sure, there's no where in this nation where one can do more stuff than in New York, with the weather as it is, it isn't the most fun of times.  More sightseeing in an expensive city than football fun in a sunny locale.

But we've had Super Bowls in Detroit, Indianapolis and Minnesota before and despite the game being played in a dome, the event surrounding the Super Bowl had the same issues.

As for the game, it is wrong.

I know that people point out the Ice Bowl and some of the epic conference title games that we've had as examples of how it could be great for football.  Whatever.  In those circumstances, one team had the home field advantage and part of a home field advantage is the weather.  I know we had the snowy "Tuck Game" in New England.  Well, that was part of the AFC playoffs and the Pats earned the right to have that game played there.

The Super Bowl is a neutral site.  A game where most of the nation is watching and many just want to watch an entertaining game.  If I get to see the Panthers and Chargers in the Super Bowl, it would be awesome to see that in the snow, eh?  Two warm weather teams having to freeze their booties off?  Heck, even if it is the Broncos and Saints ... it would be great to see two such great offenses slushing around in the snow and bundling in the elements.

No.  Give me a nice NEUTRAL weather pattern so we can see what these two teams can do when the playing conditions are optimal.

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