It’s becoming more and more clear that the NFL wants to expand the postseason. Owners will consider the situation next month, and Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the issue on Friday at a fundraising effort in Tampa for the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School.
“We’re very cautious on that,” Goodell said, via ESPN.com. “You want to make sure that you don’t do that. We have 12 teams out of 32 that make our playoffs now. This would only take us up to 14.
“The competitiveness of our league, that’s the difference to me. It’s not just adding two more teams that didn’t have a chance to proceed in the playoffs. That wouldn’t be something that we’re interested in. I think what we’re seeing now is such a competitive league that a team that got in on the 13th or 14th spot has a chance to win it all.”
He’s right. Completely and absolutely. Despite the dominance of the Seahawks last season, recent years have proven that any team that can get to the playoffs can thrive. Teams that get hot in December and make it to the playoffs by the skin of their teeth are arguably even more dangerous.
“The reality is there are a lot of teams that other playoff teams are afraid of coming in in those 13th and 14th spots,” Goodell said. “We’re going to make it more competitive. I think that’s the positive spot. That’s what our Competition Committee, our membership, our ownership has all looked at and feels comfortable that, yes, it will be competitive.”
Again, he’s right. But competitiveness in the postseason doesn’t account for the potential lack of intensity down the stretch, as teams jockey for playoff berths. Last year, multiple teams were facing after 16 weeks final outcomes ranging from securing bye weeks to bidding farewell to the playoffs. With one more playoff spot per conference, more teams will clinch more quickly.
Of course, a scramble will still remain for the final spots in each conference. And the teams that barely get seats at the table will still be capable of running the table.
So, yes, expansion of the playoffs would be a good thing. Here’s hoping the NFL ultimately can convince the NFLPA to go along with it without having to give up something more than the NFL is willing to sacrifice to make it happen.