With December here and five games left in the regular season, the NFL playoffs are just around the corner.
That means it's time for sudden death where the best teams battle it out and stars are born.
Full of parity and excitement, the NFL playoffs are sure to bring blood-pumping games with every round.
The "win or go home" format in the NFL playoffs is the number one factor that makes watching them so exciting.
A team that reaches the playoffs in the NFL gets one chance and one chance only. If a team wins, they advance. If they lose, their season is over. There's no five game or seven game series, there's no rematch, and there's no "we'll get them at home next week." It's simply who's the best team today, period.
Because of this set up, every team puts their best players on the field and gives their all, every game, for 60 minutes. That's not to say that teams aren't giving their all in other pro sport playoffs, however in baseball an ace pitcher cannot throw every night and in basketball if a team is down 30, they may sit their best players in order to preserve them for the next game of the series. This is not an option in football.
Furthermore, this leaves room for more upsets. Just because a team is 17-0 heading into a playoff game, one off-night could cost them the next round. There is no opportunity to take a couple games to build your teams momentum back up.
Whether it's the NHL, NBA, MLB or some other pro sport playoff taking place, games are played Monday-Sunday all through the playoffs.
Sometimes just trying to catch your teams' playoff games is nearly impossible between getting home from work, taking care of the family, attending appointments and whatever other obligations our daily lives call for. With games being played every day of the week sporadically, a fan is almost guaranteed to either have to miss a game at some point or make sacrifices.
In the NFL, all of the playoff games are played on Saturday and Sunday, very few overlap, and you're able to catch almost all of them without interference. This is a definite perk.
In the NFL, the top performing teams throughout the season are rewarded in the playoffs for their regular season performances.
The way the NFL playoffs are set up, the No. 1 and No. 2 seed in each conference is given a first round playoff bye, thus allowing the team to rest and prepare for the following week.
The bye gives the lower seeds an opportunity to battle it out and prove they deserve the chance to play against the leagues best teams.
Some believe this is a huge advantage, giving a team a first round playoff pass followed by a home game, but that is what the teams earn by performing the best all season long.
Even with the bye and home field advantage, top seeds are still upset every year.
With an NFL season being a short 16 games, every game counts to a team in the playoff chase. The NFL is full of parity and unless a team has a huge lead, like the Packers do this year at 11-0, any loss could hamper their playoff chances.
Right now, the AFC North has the Ravens and Steelers tied for first both at 8-3, with the Cincinnati Bengals just behind them at 7-4.
The AFC East has the New York Jets in second place at 6-5, closely followed by the Bills at 5-6.
In the AFC West, the Denver Broncos are 6-5, right on the tails of the first place Oakland Raiders who are 7-4.
In the NFC East, the Cowboys lead the division by one game, 7-4, to the New York Giants who are 6-5.
In the NFC North, the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions are battling it out for second, both at 7-4 and in the NFC South, the 7-4 Falcons are chasing the 8-3 New Orleans Saints in pursuit of first place.
With just five games remaining in the season and so many close races, every game will be critical for many of these teams in the playoff hunt. Many teams will not know their fate until the final game of the regular season.
In fact, last year the Green Bay Packers faced a must win in Week 17 against the Bears in order to make the playoffs. They defeated the Bears, made the playoffs and went on to win the Super Bowl.
The NFL playoff games may only played on the weekends, but that doesn't delay the process. The playoffs start in January and end with the Super Bowl one month later, in February.
This setup keeps things exciting and keeps people interested.
The MLB playoffs are fairly swift as well considering how long their regular season is, but the same cannot be said for the NBA and NHL.
Both the NBA and NHL playoffs begin in April and extend all the way through two months until June. It is virtually impossible to keep a mass audience interest level high for two months.