How Would the NFL Playoff Picture Look if Roger Goodell Got His Way?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com:
Goodell mentioned one issue that is sure to draw the attention of most fans: Expanding the playoffs.
"Right now we're with 12 teams obviously. We'll look at probably 14 or 16 teams," Goodell said.
Obviously money and TV ratings would increase for pro football, because more games simply lead to that.
In addition, what about the increased odds of sub-par teams getting into January? That would surely be the case, and we've already had a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team win the NFC West in 2010.
Now yes, Seattle went on to win its Wild Card matchup just like the 8-8 San Diego Chargers over the Indianapolis Colts did in 2008. Nevertheless, let's look at who else would still have a shot if 2012 were to have 16 teams.
Needless to say, almost everyone would still be alive.
If the AFC Fielded 8 Playoff Teams
Right now the AFC's No. 6 seed is the Cincinnati Bengals at 8-6.
Add two more teams with the season ending today and the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) and New York Jets (6-7) would get in. Now, aside from Jets fans, does anyone really want to see Gang Green in the postseason?
We've seen how horrendous the Jets can be this season, and the preseason only warned us of that. Somehow, New York is still alive for the playoffs, and if Rex Ryan and Co. get in that's perfectly legit.
But there's no reason to expand the playoffs and reward a team that's barely fighting to be .500 with a shot in January. Factor in three games remaining for every AFC team outside of Cincinnati, and adding a No. 7 and No. 8 seed would mean that the Tennessee Titans (4-9) and Oakland Raiders (3-10) are still alive.
In short, expansion is a bad idea if you look at the AFC.
But before we move onto the NFC, NFL.com's Michael Lombardi had an interesting take regarding the Bengals and this potential postseason expansion:
Now, let's return to the issue that started this column: considering the Bengals as a legitimate playoff team. Watching them struggle to beat the Eagles was painful.
The Bengals have two tough games remaining on the schedule: at Pittsburgh Steelers, vs. Baltimore Ravens. Win both, and they're a playoff team -- a legitimate playoff team. Win both, and they prove that they belong. And at the end of the day, that's what we all want in the postseason: teams that belong.
Are you in favor of the NFL playoffs expanding?
Lombardi hit the nail on the head, because expanding the postseason only ruins the integrity of the regular season and the meaning of making the postseason.
IF The NFC Fielded 8 Playoff Teams
The NFC is deeper than the AFC in 2012, so things would be quite interesting with a No. 7 and No. 8 seed.
With the Chicago Bears at 8-5 as the current No. 6 seed, the two teams behind them are the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys (both 7-6). Therefore, although each of these teams is worthy of postseason consideration, almost every other NFC team would be alive.
Only the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals would be out. The Eagles already have 10 losses, and the Cardinals have just two wins in the conference. Two other teams in the Carolina Panthers and the Detroit Lions sport 4-9 records and have better conference records than Arizona.
Even with Carolina's impressive victory over the Atlanta Falcons, though, we saw the Panthers at their worst in losing to the Kansas City Chiefs and twice to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
As for Detroit, the Lions have two solid wins over the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks but also lost to the Tennessee Titans and are 0-5 in the NFC North. Does a team without one victory within its division deserve to still be barely hanging on to a chance at the playoffs?
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