Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The NFL Playoff Set Up is Unfair

The NFL is the least fair league in American sports when it comes to determining who makes the playoffs and what seed each team gets. I have a plan to change that. Each conference has two divisions of 8 teams. The NFC East and South become one division and the NFC Central and West become another. Int he AFC, the East and North merge and so do the South and West.

The teams currently in NFC East play each other twice a year. They play teams in the former NFC South once a year, rotating home games every year. The NFC East teams play the former AFC East teams once every four years just as they do now. Those teams play two teams in the NFC North and West.

The two division winners from each 8-team division in each conference gets a bye. The other four slots are determined by best record.

If the playoffs began today, the AFC playoffs would like like this:
Byes: 1) Den 10-2; 2) NE 9-3.
Home playoff games: 3) Ind 8-4; 4) Cin 8-4.
Road playoff games: 5) KC 9-3; 6) Bal 6-6.

So wait, Kansas City is tied for the second best team in AFC and gets the fifth seed and a road playoff game against a team with a worse record? How the hell is that fair?

AFC playoffs in the new format:
Byes: 1) Den 10-2; 2) NE 9-3.
Home playoff games: 3) KC 9-3; 4) Ind 8-4.
Road playoff games: 5) Cin 8-4; 6) Bal 6-6.

That's much fairer. But it gets better. Right now the Bengals have a 2 game lead in the AFC North and the Pats and Colts have three game leads. That makes for a pretty boring stretch run. But in the new format:
AFC East and North standings:
1) NE 9-3; 2) Cin 8-4.
AFC South and West standings:
1) Den 10-2; 2) KC 9-3; 3) Ind 8-4.

Suddenly we have 2 out of 2 division races instead of 1 out of 4. Now let's check the NFC. If the playoffs began today, the NFC would look like this:
Byes: 1) Sea 11-1; 2) NO 9-3.
Home playoff games: 3) Det 7-5; 4) Dal 7-5.
Road playoff games: 5) Car 9-3; 6) SF 8-4.

So Carolina and San Fran will start out on the road even though both teams have better records that the teams they're facing? Let's check out the new format to see if it's fairer.

Byes: 1) Sea 11-1; 2) NO 9-3.
Home playoff games: 3) Car 9-3; 4) SF 8-4.
Road playoff games: 5-6) Dal, Det, Ari, Phi are all 7-5, so a complicated tiebreaker would determine the top two teams. Right now, Dal and Det would be in because they're division champs, but the new format would judge them based on their record and not the records of the teams in their division.

Well, that made things a lot fairer. With regards to the division races, they wouldn't necessarily be any closer, but more teams would be on the fringe of making a run, particularly in the new East and South division.

So there you have it, an easy way to fix the NFL playoffs.

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