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Tomlin likes playoff expansion only if it doesn’t “lessen” division play

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

When the talk turns to a 14-team playoff field, the inclination may be to focus upon how the addition of two more wild-card games will change the NFL’s postseason schedule.

However, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wonders how a postseason format change will affect divisional play in the regular season.

Speaking to reporters at the NFL meetings in Orlando on Tuesday, Tomlin said he would prefer playoff expansion only if it did not devalue the importance of the Steelers’ two regular season games against Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore.

“I would favor it as long as it doesn’t lessen the significance of division play, and I mean that,” Tomlin said, according to a transcript of his remarks from the Pro Football Writers of America. “I love the structure of division play and what it means from a playoff-seeding standpoint. If it doesn’t lessen that in any way, then obviously I’m all ears.”

Tomlin made it clear he hoped division winners would continue to host wild card games.

“I don’t want to lessen that in any way,” Tomlin said. “I don’t.”

As long as the NFL continues to give division winners at least one home game, playoff expansion wouldn’t seem likely to materially affect divisional play. In fact, including seven teams per conference would open the door for all four teams in a division to make the postseason, which could make the final week of the regular season all the more compelling.

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12 Responses to “Tomlin likes playoff expansion only if it doesn’t “lessen” division play”
  1. thestrategyexpert says: Mar 26, 2014 9:18 PM

    It still isn’t right that a division winner gets a home game if they are a weak record. It’s always a threat that a really awful record can somehow win the division. A team can go 3-13 and technically win a division (not counting less that would only be possible with the rest of the games being ties). Sure that might be statistically improbable to only win 3 and win it, but nevertheless the rules should cover a situation like that or for a 4 to 8 win team that hasn’t even surpassed .500 and gets rewarded with a home game when they shouldn’t even be in the playoffs at all.

  2. joeflaccoallday says: Mar 26, 2014 9:49 PM

    Starting to like this idea of expansion! Anybody agree?

  3. footballfan01 says: Mar 26, 2014 11:14 PM

    Sounds reasonable enough.

  4. buckybadger says: Mar 26, 2014 11:35 PM

    Tomlin is right here. The schedules from division to division are far too different to the seeding any different way. A record is only a good comparison if the schedule are the same.

  5. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Mar 27, 2014 1:17 PM

    It’s a MATHEMATICAL CERTAINTY that the value of Division Play will decrease — simply by virtue of more teams qualifying. It will lessen the value of ALL League Play for the same reason.

    If you take it to the extreme and let 28 out of 32 teams in to the Playoffs — it’d lessen the value even worse.

    This is SIMPLE. More teams in (i.e., fewer teams out) —> decreases the meaning of ALL regular season games, most certainly including divisional match-ups.

    Hard to believe this is even a topic of discussion.

  6. bobzilla1001 says: Mar 27, 2014 1:54 PM

    Only the cream of the crop should advance to the postseason. Therefore, only non-division-winning teams with 11 or more wins should be allowed to compete in the playoffs. That way, teams will know from Day One the win total they’ll need to qualify for a Super Bowl run.
    Watering down the postseason to accommodate mediocrity is absurd.

  7. sbchampsagain says: Mar 27, 2014 2:24 PM

    Steelers and Bengals should beall for playoff expansion.

    Tim Tebow has a more recent playoff win than Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger.

  8. doctorrustbelt says: Mar 27, 2014 3:00 PM

    You know the pittsburgh steelers are in FULL DECLINE when their head coach starts lobbying for ways to limp into the playoffs with their weak, aging, declining low character team.

  9. southcarolinamike says: Mar 27, 2014 3:24 PM

    bobzilla1001, You could have misread this more. It has nothing to do with accommodating mediocrity and everything to do with raking in more money.

  10. stillers213 says: Mar 27, 2014 3:24 PM

    “You know the pittsburgh steelers are in FULL DECLINE when their head coach starts lobbying for ways to limp into the playoffs with their weak, aging, declining low character team.”

    Let me apologize now for the Steeler fan who beat you up at some point in the past. It’s the only explaination for your unhealthy obsession with my team. You should be way more worried about your hapless bungles.

  11. oldcracker says: Mar 27, 2014 8:00 PM

    Why not do it the NBA way.

    Eliminate the current pre-season. Use the regular season (and adding 4 more games) as a pre-season for the real season….the playoffs. All 32 teams, plus any added in London, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Mexico City, Beijing, Tokyo, New Delhi, Sidney, Sao Paulo, or wherever, and do a series of round-robins with a best of 5, until the final round. That would be determined with a best of 7. Double or triple ticket prices but offset that with free bottles of water.

    Maybe then the Browns, Vikings, Titans, Jaguars, Redskins, and the Cowboys could have a shot.

  12. pizzon says: Mar 30, 2014 6:49 PM

    Have no real interest in expanding the playoffs, this is nothing more than a money grab by ownership and Goodell, and will no doubt lessen the quality of play. Don’t want the NFL to turn into the NHL.

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