Back to 14

After watching parts of two nearly unwatchable wildcard games yesterday, I feel more strongly than ever that it is time to go back to the 14-game regular season and eight playoff teams.

I understand there is, for the time being, more money to be made from 16 games and 12 teams. But once something peaks, it either contracts sensibly in a cyclical manner or it collapses. The NFL should be thinking long term, as the demographic trends are against it, the quarterback-development breakdown in the NCAA is against it, and everything points to contraction eventually being the order of the day.

Not every move the Goodell-era NFL has been made is bad. The concussion protocol is sensible, the eight four-team divisions are great, and the emphasis on the divisional rivalries has helped maintain interest beyond the largely meaningless scramble for the last two playoff spots. Does it really matter who the two sacrificial lambs are when they only have a chance if the other team is starting its untested third-string quarterback?

If Goodell wants to really put his stamp on the game in a positive manner, he’ll focus on making the game stronger rather than mindlessly chasing dollars until the entire edifice collapses. The problem is that the NFL is still thinking in terms of expansion when the situation has changed and they should be thinking in terms of maintaining what they have.

This will serve as today’s wildcard-round post. One hopes the games will be better than yesterday’s.