Here's why expanding the NFL playoffs is a bad idea
We all love football, especially the NFL. There is a reason it is the most popular sport in the country.
The other sports leagues need gimmicks. Baseball is weighing a really dumb playoff plan. The NBA looked at a possible tournament. Anything to try to be more relevant, to try to close the gap on the NFL.
So why is the one sport with the best postseason thinking about messing it up?
Last week, a report came out that the NFL was looking to add two more playoff teams for the 2021 season. Essentially, each league would have seven playoff teams. There would be byes for the top team in each conference. The second-best team would no longer get a bye. Last season, in the AFC, the Ravens would have had a bye. The Texans would have still faced the Bills, and the Patriots would have also faced the Titans. The Chiefs would have hosted the 8-8 Steelers.
In the NFC, San Francisco would have had the bye. The Saints would have played the Vikings, the Eagles would have faced the Seahawks and the Packers would have hosted the Rams. The results likely would have played out the same.
But did we really need to see a Steelers team with no quarterback? Are the extra games worth it?
On the surface, yes. more meaningful games. More to bet on. Could that really be a bad thing?
Yes. One of the things that makes the NFL unique is that it is not easy to make the playoffs. Basketball and hockey let in half the league or more. Letting in more than 12 out of 32 waters things down. Can the playoffs really improve by adding less quality?
The NFL already has it right. Why change it? More money? More teams staying in the race later in the season?
The NFL barely had enough quality teams last season. The playoffs featured upsets, including the Titans knocking off New England and Baltimore. In the end, we got two quality teams in the Super Bowl. Why mess with it?
Greed. Better TV deals. It is just two games, but that's two more high-profile TV games to sell.
Sometimes, sports leagues can outthink themselves. In this case, the NFL does not need to change. Why mess with something that is working? The NFL playoffs don't need improving. Is that Chiefs-Steelers matchup really worth it? Teams like the Colts, Jets, Broncos and Raiders would have been in the playoff mix until near the end of the season. On the surface, this all sounds great.
But at the risk of sounding like "get off my lawn" guy, sometimes the old ways are the best. The NFL has not changed its playoff format in 30 years. During that time, the sport has seen unprecedented growth and become the dominant sports league in America.
Why change what works just to add more money to a multi-billion dollar industry? Why reward more mediocrity in a league that welcomes too much of it as it is?
The playoff expansion appears inevitable, so complaining will do little good. Still, it is a bad idea. Messing with a playoff format that works can go two ways; it could improve the product, but the more likely result is more bad teams, and more mismatches.
At least it guarantees Bill O'Brien stays employed forever, as the 9-7 train will likely get you to the playoffs from here on out.
That is not a good thing, and this is a change that will not be for the better.
Messing with something that has worked for 30 years is a bad decision. But the NFL will make more money, and two average teams will get a chance to get rolled in the first round.
What could possibly go wrong?