The NFL needs to change the way playoffs work

The NFL needs to re-think the playoff system to make it more exciting, and more fair. Photo: AP

TEXAS, January 4, 2013 — It is playoff time in the NFL. 

Twenty teams have already gone home. The wild card weekend is here. For fans of theTexans, the Titans and the Jaguars, hope had long since evaporated for anything other than watching someone else play in the playoffs.

Of those three AFC south teams, after week eight of the season, only the Titans held a flickering hope for a play off bid. That bid was finally and not shockingly extinguished long before the season was over.

For the Texans, who finished 2-14 or even the Jaguars, who finished with the slightly more enviable record of 4-12, the only reason to play the games in the last half of the season was, in the immortal words of CBS commentator and Hall of Fame Quarterback Phil Simms, “Because they were on the schedule.”

The NFL could make the entire season for every team more meaningful and the post season much more exciting with one simple change.

Change the playoff structure. 

And the NFL is in the perfect position to do that.

There are thirty-two teams in the NFL and that gives the league the perfect format for a new playoff schedule.

Here is how the change would work.

Keep the first sixteen weeks of the schedule the same. Week seventeen would be the first week of the playoffs. Every team would make it to week seventeen.

No, this is not the same thing as let’s give everyone a trophy just for participating.  The games of the last week of the season are division games, seeded by a team’s record and if necessary tiebreakers. The team with the best record in the division will host the last place team in the division. The other two teams in the division would play each other with the home team determined by which team has the best record.

From there, the surviving sixteen teams would go to the next week division championships the next week. The surviving eight then play the conference play offs.  Then the four play for the conference championship. Finally the last two teams, the AFC champion and the NFC champion move on to the Super Bowl, just as they do now.

This makes every game for every team count and it makes the post season even more interesting. Teams like the New York Giants would be in the playoffs this year.

The Giants started the year 0-6 and finished with a 7-3 run. They were arguably better than a couple of teams that made it into the playoffs.

This type of format will inevitably create a Cinderella story of a team with a horrible record that comes from nowhere to make it to the semi finals or maybe even the Super Bowl.

Today, the NFL playoffs are a mind numbing blur of which team makes it to the wild card while some superior teams do not even make the playoffs because a weak team wins its weak division. 

If the NFL wants to make the game more exciting, which they always want to do, change the playoff format and make the draft rankings based on the playoffs instead of a team’s final record.

That way every team gets to play for the Lombardi trophy and none of them are playing for the number one draft pick.


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Judson Phillips

Judson Phillips is the founder of Tea Party Nation, one of the largest Tea Party Groups in the country and the number one national tea party site on the Internet.

A lawyer by profession, Judson has been involved in politics since his teens. “Ronald Reagan inspired me,” he says.

Judson became involved in the Tea Party movement in February 2009 after hearing Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC.   “I heard there was going to be a Tea Party in Chicago inspired by Santelli, but didn’t know if anyone was doing a rally in Nashville where I was based.  Finally I emailed Michelle Malkin and asked her if there was a Tea Party in Nashville.  Malkin sent an email back saying, ‘No, why don’t you organize one?’  I did.”

The first Tea Party in Nashville was held late February 2009 which drew a crowd of about 600. Judson then organized the Tax Day Tea Party in Nashville, which drew over 10,000 people into downtown.   It was at this time that Tea Party Nation was formed.  Later that year, Judson decided to bring activists from across the country together, so he organized the first National Tea Party Convention in February 2010, which featured Alaska’s former Governor and Republican Vice Presidential Nominee, Sarah Palin as it’s keynote speaker.

He currently manages the Tea Party Nation website, writes several daily columns and is working on more projects than any one person should.  He is a frequent guest on cable and broadcast news shows, including on Fox, MSNBC, CNN and others.

Contact Judson Phillips


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