Twenty teams have already gone home. The wild card weekend is here. For fans of the
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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