In light of the terrible first-round games this year and the fact that a team with a losing record not only made the playoffs, but made it to the second round, the NFL appears to be backing away from the stupid idea of further expanding the number of teams that make them:
At his pre-Super Bowl press conference last year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that he thought there were a lot of benefits to expanding the postseason.
Among the benefits he cited were a “more competitive” league with better matchups as the regular season nears its conclusion and “more excitement” for the league’s fans. Talks about adding two teams to the postseason never came to a vote with the owners last spring and there was debate about the need to involve the NFLPA, but Goodell continued to sound optimistic about it when it came up in 2014.
He didn’t sound so optimistic about it during Friday’s pre-Super Bowl press conference.
“The possibility of expanding the playoffs has been a topic over the last couple of years,” Goodell said. “There are positives to it, but there are concerns as well, among them being the risk of diluting our regular season and conflicting with college football in January.”
The latter concern wasn’t aired last year and the better matchups that Goodell mentioned would seem to run counter to the risk of diluting the regular season, so it seems significant that they were specified while the positives were left undiscussed. Owners like John Mara of the Giants and Art Rooney II have come down against the idea since it was broached last year and Goodell’s tone may suggest he’s heard likewise from other owners heading into this offseason.
There is absolutely no good reason to expand the playoffs. If anything, they should be further limited; half the teams in the first round were uncompetitive and didn’t belong there. The games are really only reliably interesting at the divisional round anyhow.
Regardless, the current system did manage to not only match up the two best teams, but clarify a pecking order that had been modestly in doubt with regards to the Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks, and Broncos, Ravens, Colts, and Patriots. It is working, even if the first weekend tends to be a bit boring, so for once Goodell should stop his incessant meddling and stop trying to fix what is quite clearly working.
Fortunately, the fact that the league’s more traditional and influential owners are against it should suffice to kill the dumb idea for the rest of Goodell’s bumbling reign.