Of course, the counter argument is that if a team like San Diego gets in, they have the opportunity to pull off mini-miracles. Who is to say that the Ravens couldn't channel their 2012 deer antler-mojo and make another run through the AFC? Maybe the Dolphins would have used their racism and bigotry to intimidate their way to a title. Perhaps Big Ben's Steelers had a little magic left in them, also. Once a team gets in, anything can happen. That magic is what Goodell and the owners are banking on, and when this goes up for a vote this spring, it will undoubtedly pass.
I think the NFL should take their 14-team playoff system and shove it up their ass. Having seven teams on one side doesn't make sense. The league says they care about player safety, but they want to force four additional teams (the two-seed teams would lose their bye week) to play an extra game. Their contradictory stance is laughable, but they're the NFL and people will continue to pump their money into the hands of Goodell and his cronies.
Why stop here? If the NFL really wants to jack up prices, why not let the league host thirty home playoff games in addition to the Super Bowl, rather than twelve? Thirty playoff games is a ton. If they are going to water down the sanctity of the playoff format we have grown to love so much, here is my proposal to one-up the NFL.
- All 32 teams make the playoffs (Yes, even you, Houston).
- Teams will be seeded from 1-16 in their conference (Denver 1, New England 2, Cincinnati 3, etc).
- The brackets will be organized like the NCAA March Madness Tournament, where a top seed will play a bottom seed (Denver 1 vs. Houston 16, New England 2 vs. Cleveland 15, Cincinnati 3 vs. Jacksonville 14, etc).
- This format allows for sixteen teams to host home playoff games in round 1, eight to host games in round 2, four in round 3, two in the "Championship Round" and the Super Bowl will be continue to be played in a neutral setting.
Woah, Sal, this is ridiculous! There is NO way the players association will allow for this many games. They were adamantly against an eighteen-game schedule, so why would they agree to this?!
Glad you asked.
- Teams would play a fourteen-game regular season schedule, with seven game at home and seven games on the road. The schedule would consist of the following: six division games, four out of conference games against a rotating division (AFC North vs. NFC South) and four in-conference games against a rotating division (AFC North vs. AFC South).
- Teams would get one bye week during the season, like they have now. After Week 15, the end of the regular season, all 32 teams would receive a bye week to prepare for their playoff opponent. This would give the media a chance to hype up certain matchups, and it would help the NFL extend their calendar year, something they have already done.
- Teams would sacrifice one guaranteed home, regular season game, but would be able to make more money selling playoff tickets. Thanks to revenue sharing, every team would get an equal piece of the pie.
If you are making the case that the 8-8 Ravens could have made a playoff run, a case could be made that the Buffalo Bills, a team that beat the Ravens, could make a impact in the tournament, as well. The Buccaneers beat the Bills, so they definitely deserve a shot, if the Bills get one. Any Given Sunday, people! Goodell is opening Pandora's Box by extending the playoff field, so why not let everyone in? If the Broncos are really the best AFC team, they should have no problem rolling through Houston. Americans love the underdogs, and people would root for the upsets like they do during March Madness. Plus, then nobody could say that their team was denied a chance at a miracle run.
What I'm proposing is the closest you will ever see to football socialism, other than PPR fantasy football leagues, that is (because making all positions equal value makes total sense to capitalist Americans...). However, the writing is on the wall; the NFL suits will not stop coming up with new ways to bleed money from the fans. I doubt the league will ever operate with transparency, and the fans will be the last to know of any changes to their beloved game. Hopefully, Mr. Goodell, will take my suggestions into consideration. I just won't hold my breath waiting for a check.