Memo to the NFL: Add a Playoff Round, Not Regular Season Games

Andrew CahillSenior Analyst IMarch 28, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 18:  Fullback Terrelle Smith #45 and tackle Gabe Watson #98 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate after the NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles on January 18, 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 32-25 to advance to the Super Bowl.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 Patriot Pat says-


Remember how much of a feel good story the Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl run was?

The NFL has a gold-mine staring itself in the face, and they don't know it.

Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to create a longer regular season.  It would happen by essentially transforming one or two preseason games into regular season games.

The intent behind such a move would be two fold; to create more revenue through ticket sales and television marketing, and to allow fans the opportunity to see their star players play more often instead of the backups.

With the Patriots out of the playoffs, I chose to follow the Cardinals and their chance at making a run at a Super Bowl victory.

They surprised everybody, and if not for a great last-minute drive, they would have won the Super Bowl.

So my idea is simple.

Instead of adding regular season games for every team, where the regular season would likely end with quite a few meaningless games, just take the idea of more games and add a playoff round.

Fans want to see their star players play more, but I believe that they would prefer that playing time be at the end of the season, and it would give more teams a chance at putting together a run at a great story.

Week one would begin where week four of the preseason is now, and a new round would start during what is currently week seventeen.

As the playoff system stands, 12 teams make the playoffs out of 32. That's six from each conference.

In this new system, sixteen would make the playoffs. The four division winners, and the next four best records from each conference.

This is how the system would look for one conference:

 

Hypothetical Conference Bracket

True Wild Card      Wild Card       Divisional         Conference        Super Bowl              

                                                     1st Seed

                               3rd Seed                                 1/3/5/8 Seed    

5th Seed                                        3/5/8 Seed               

                               5/8 Seed 

8th Seed                                                                                           1-8 Seed

                                                     2nd Seed

                               4th Seed                                 2/4/6/7 Seed

6th Seed                                        4/6/7 Seed

                               6/7 Seed

7th Seed

 

Analysis

Pros

As you can see, the top two seeds in each division would get two bye weeks in order to get some well earned rest and preparation time.

The two remaining Division winners would play in Wild Card games after one bye week. Their opponents would be the winners of the True Wild Card weekend.

This would generate more interest in the league, based on the idea that more teams would have a opportunity to shock the world by doing what the Cardinals almost did last year.

All of the games would be nationally televised, creating an opportunity to increase revenue with commercial advertisement.

It would create more competition and motivation to be top seeded teams in the playoffs, as it would take less games to win the Super Bowl.

It would give opportunity to the the non-division winners of strong divisions (11-5 New England Patriots) to enter the playoffs, and prove they are better than the winners of weaker divisions.

All of this without taking away the reward of making the playoffs by winning your division.

 

Cons

Some drawbacks to the idea would be the thought that teams cool off after a bye week and that the top teams taking too much time off would actually be considered a burden, rather than a reward.

There would be less preseason games, taking away from young players a chance to get some professional playing time and experience. Although, this plan could happen without taking away any preseason games.

Some people might feel that letting teams with weaker records into the playoffs will degrade the competition in the playoffs.

History would prove that wrong, as early as last year.  The Cardinals weren't expected to go anywhere in the playoffs, but look at what they did.

The fact is the system now is broken, in that good teams don't make the playoffs and weaker ones do, as long as they are in a weak division.

This would create equal opportunity across the league. It would also be a smarter financial decision than adding extra regular season games.

It is a win-win situation for everyone. The fans, the teams, and the league.

 


Andrew Cahill is a true Boston sports fan. Check out his website, "Patriot Pat's Patsies."