5 Reasons Why Expanding the NFL Playoffs is a Terrible Idea

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5 Reasons Why Expanding the NFL Playoffs is a Terrible Idea

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has recently stated its interest in expanding the playoffs by raising the number of teams in each conference from six to seven as early as the 2015 season. There has also been talk of expanding it beyond that which would mean at least half of the league would make the postseason.

Both scenarios are a terrible idea, especially the latter. The NFL is going to dilute its product in order to make more money for the owners. Expanding the playoffs may add excitement to the fanbases of teams that sneak into the postseason, but it will lower the excitement for everyone else. The current playoff format is almost perfect with just one major flaw — the teams with the best records don’t always make it.

For example, the 10-6 Arizona Cardinals sat at home and watched as the 8-7-1 Green Bay Packers hosted a playoff game. The best instance took place in 2010 when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks ‘earned’ a home playoff game while two 10-6 teams from the NFC were on the outside looking in. There is a much more simple and effective solution to fixing this problem than diluting the playoff field.

The NFL needs to stop awarding a playoff berth for winning a division. A division winner only needs to outplay three teams to make the postseason which is not a deserving accomplishment. The six teams with the best records in each conference should make the playoffs, obviously with the tiebreaker system in place. It is an incredibly simple solution with no good argument against it.

Expanding the playoffs is not best the answer for making sure deserving teams make the postseason. Ensuring deserving teams don’t get left out isn’t the real motivation for expansion anyway. It’s just a side effect that the NFL is going to use as part of their argument to increase the number of playoff teams for their ultimate goal — more money.

While the NFL is a business and should always be exploring opportunities to be more profitable, it should not do so at the expense of the customer. If the league goes through with this, it will be sacrificing its product in an effort to chase money. Here are five reasons why the expanding the playoffs is a terrible idea.

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5. Bad Teams Don’t Deserve the Playoffs

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There was a lot of fuss about the Pittsburgh Steelers not making the playoffs this season, but if the playoffs were expanded they would have. The problem with that is they didn’t deserve to make it. They were 8-8, and no .500 or below .500 teams deserve a shot at the Lombardi Trophy. Occasionally mediocre teams are able to sneak in, and expanding the playoffs will just reward more mediocre, and sometimes bad, football teams.

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4. It Weakens the Meaning of Making the Playoffs

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Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

In the NBA and NHL, making the playoffs is not an accomplishment at all. Over half of the teams in those leagues make it which means you can play bad, just not pathetic, all season and still have a shot at the ultimate prize. In the NFL making the playoffs is an accomplishment (outside of the occasional bad division winner), and teams that made it can consider their season a success.

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3. There Will Be More Unwatchable Playoff Games

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Increasing teams will increase lopsided games. In most cases, the best teams will face teams hovering around mediocrity, and they will also be doing it at home. The games the NFL will be adding may be competitive once in a while, but more often than not they will be about as exciting as most 1-seed vs. 8-seed matchups in the NBA. The playoffs should be nothing but the best of the best facing off in highly competitive games.

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2. It Lowers the Impact of Regular Season Games

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Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports

One aspect that makes the NFL special is how important each game is. The more playoff teams there are, the more teams can afford to lose, and that will weaken the impact of the games. As it stands, there is an urgency to win throughout the entire NFL season, but that urgency will decline as the postseason expands.

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1. It Could Ruin the Super Bowl

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Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

The best team doesn’t always win in the NFL, and a run of good luck could land average or bad teams in the Super Bowl. With more of those teams in the running, the odds of that happening go up. A few lucky turnovers, a couple key injuries for their opponents, or teams just playing their worst game could put the first .500 or lower team in the Super Bowl.

A championship for a team that finished 8-8 or lower not only feels tainted, but would also cheapen what it means to be a Super Bowl winner. Super Bowl Sunday is an American holiday, and watching weak teams play would ruin it. It would be like eating rotten turkey on Thanksgiving or receiving nothing but socks on Christmas. And not cool socks either — just plain, boring, white socks.


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