The best two weekends of the NFL by far are the Wild Card and Divisional weekends. Just because of the intensity of the weekends, the fact that there are games on both Saturday and Sunday; it’s all you can ask for as a football fan. Wild Card Weekend typically has more exciting, closer games because you’re dealing with the Wild Card teams and the lower half of the seedings. If there are blowouts in the playoffs; they’re going to be in the Divisional Round or Championship round at least. The NFL being all about the money and all and wanting to expand the product where ever and whenever they can, there has been speculation that the league is considering expanding the playoff format to allow seven teams per conference. Is this a good idea or should the NFL not mess with a good thing?
I think one thing that today’s NFL fan has to come to terms with is that no one gives a crap about us. There are going to be rule changes, team changes, and league changes that don’t make any sense to us and don’t benefit us in the slightest and that’s just the way things are going to go. We can’t hold onto the “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” mentality as a reason why we would resist change in the NFL. As opposed to an 18-game schedule, an extra Wild Card team per conference is a much better solution to the owners’ current problem of how to pad their already bursting wallets a bit more. If we have to deal with change, I think this is a good one.
Sure, the NFL gets more money, but that’s what drives their decision making right now. They’re going to do whatever makes them more money until all NFL owners resemble the Monopoly guy and all have their matching top hats and monocles. Other than the NFL getting money, that third Wild Card city gets money as well. Playoff games rarely are in danger of not selling out (unless it’s obscenely frigid in Green Bay or the game is being held in Cincinnati apparently) so the wealth can be spread to the additional team who’s fans can purchase tickets and travel to their playoff destination. In this model, only the top seed of each conference would have the bye.
The biggest opposition I’ve heard so far to the idea of playoff expansion is that it might water-down the product and allow in the dreaded 7-9 or 8-8 team to compete for a prize that should be harder to get to. I don’t see that as such a bad thing. I don’t think it waters down the product nearly as much as an 18-game schedule would where we would no doubt go back to the last two weeks of the season being mostly meaningless with top teams resting their stars or the majority of the teams not playing well because they’re decimated by the injuries that will undoubtedly occur with two additional regular season games.
What an expanded playoff would give the fans far outweighs what it would take. Maybe there will be more 8-8 teams vying for championships but that doesn’t necessarily spell out the downfall of the NFL as we know it. What there will be is more playoffs, and more playoffs sounds good to me.