February 7, 2012

My Suggestion For The NFL Playoffs

     I whined a lot about the NFL playoffs yesterday, without offering much in the way of a solution.  I was originally considering something that used the divisions but less so than the current system, but it doesn't make much sense to me to use them at all.  The conferences in NCAA have nothing to do with the championship picture; they just allow teams to travel less.  Why not make the NFL's divisions the same way?

     This can't get much simpler:  Take the top 4 teams in each conference, by record, regardless of their place in their respective division.  Put them in two standard 4-team single-elimination tournaments, with the higher seed getting the home game.  That means no more high-seed bye week, which hurts teams more than it helps them.  That means no more 7-9 teams in the playoffs.  That means the Steelers would have played at 12-4 Baltimore this year rather than at 8-8 Denver.  (Side note:  This makes me sad as Steelers/Broncos was my favorite game this season.)

     Sure, there wouldn't be as many underdogs winning the championship.  But the ones that do would be even more special.


  1. Having a first round bye is not a disadvantage at all, it is a huge advantage. This year 3 of 4 bye week teams won and all time they have a 75 percent win percentage.

    The fact that the Packers lost even with the advantage of a bye shows how overrated they were. (If GB had to play a week earlier, they would not have had Greg Jennings.) They had the worst defense in the NFL and it finally came back to haunt them. It was surprising, but not shocking to see them fall to an underrated Giants squad who was finally at full strength.

    Getting rid of the divisions would destroy regional rivalries, which are just as important as having a balanced playoffs. Besides, the best team always wins the Super Bowl. I have no pity for any of the losers, they knew what was at stake and failed to deliver. That is not true in college football as there are at least three other contenders per season (sometimes undefeated teams) that never get a shot.

  2. Excellent! I missed having comments...

    Let me deal with this in pieces:

    First two paragraphs: Makes sense. I stand corrected.

    "Getting rid of the divisions would destroy regional rivalries"

    I don't think we have to necessarily get rid of the divisions, but giving an automatic playoff berth to every division winner tends to keep better teams out of the playoffs. The divisions would still create 2 matchups each year between divisional rivals, there would just be slightly less meaning behind each game.

    "Besides, the best team always wins the Super Bowl."

    You'd be shocked at how untrue this is, no matter what sport you talk about. It's impossible to get enough information to find the true best team using only 20 games. As it is now, the best team probably only wins the Super Bowl 10-15% of the time.

    "I have no pity for any of the losers, they knew what was at stake and failed to deliver."

    I could say the same for Oklahoma State, Stanford, and Oregon this year. Though I do hate seeing undefeated teams left out of the title game. (And I will admit that, statistically, the BCS needs a whole lot more reform than the NFL playoffs.)