Vic Fangio wants to get rid of divisions

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On the same day Commissioner Roger Goodell threw cold water on the idea of seeding the six playoff teams without regard to whether a team has won its division, Broncos coach Vic Fangio took it a big step farther: Get rid of divisions completely.

“Since the league went to 32 teams, which was when the Texans came in in 2002, my ideal suggestion, which has never been put forth in front of anybody important — I don’t think there should be divisions,” Fangio told reporters on Wednesday. “I think you’ve got 16 in each conference. Everybody should play each other once. That’s 15 games. Then if you want a 16th game, you play a natural rival from the other conference — Jets and Giants play every year, Eagles-Steelers, Texans-Cowboys, etc. — play every year. . . . [Y]ou’ll avoid the problem that’s going to happen this year where probably an 8-8 team is hosting a 12-4 team. You’re going to get the six best teams in each conference. The divisions always float. There are some that are easy some years, some that have a bunch of good teams, that switches back and forth every couple years. I just think that’d be a good way to avoid it.”

It’s a simple, sensible, and equitable approach. Fifteen games per year against the other teams in each conference, and one interconference game.

“I just don’t think divisions are going to get you the best six every year,” Fangio said. “You want the best six? Do it like they do in college. . . . [Y]ou play everybody once.”

This would take away the home-and-home series that often make divisional play compelling, especially late in the season when one team is playing for something and its division rival isn’t. Also, the reduction from four interconference games per year to one would result in some teams rarely if ever playing other teams, especially if the interconference games would be tied annually to a natural rival.

The better approach would be to schedule the interconference game based on where the teams finished the prior season. First place would play first place, second would play second, and so on until the worst two teams in each conference square off. Even then, it would be only one interconference game per year.

Fangio was asked whether he’d like the media to push his idea.

“Are you getting the hint?” he said, laughing. “Do you like my idea? . . . [L]et’s solve the next problem and play everybody once. Let’s get the top six teams in there.”

It definitely would produce a much more pure and fair ranking of the best teams in each conference, which the NFL should want. But it seems like too much of a dramatic change to ever get any real traction.

Indeed, if owners won’t even entertain the idea of seeding playoff teams based on record without giving inferior division champions a home game, they’d never remove the subcategories in each conference.

Then again, they did it once before. After the 1982 strike, which trimmed the regular season from 16 to nine games, the NFL used a 16-team Super Bowl tournament, with eight of 14 teams in each conference qualifying.

Even if nothing comes of this (and nothing surely will come of it), Fangio’s idea represents the kind of creative, proactive thinking that happens all too infrequently within the NFL, which tends to embrace changes slowly, reluctantly, and often only when required in response to an embrassing outcome.

39 responses to “Vic Fangio wants to get rid of divisions

  1. So many problems with this. 1) How the schedule is created now every team will play every team in the league every 4 years. With this AFC teams will never play NFC teams so fans will never get exposed to all the stars in the league. Just not good marketing. 2) For the reseeding you can’t compare records across divisions because they are different. 3) This would take away divisional rivals which can make meaningless games at the end of the year still meaningful to fans. If my team is out of the playoffs (the Packers) are playing the Bears I still want to win. If there is no rival I don’t care and don’t watch.

  2. Lame! Hope that dumb idea NEVER comes to fruition. If it did, this is one lifelong fan who wouldn’t bother watching anymore. The scenario he refers to rarely happens and so what when it does. Bottom line is if the team with the better record is really that good, then they should be able to beat the feeble team on the road. NASCAR changed all their rules to appease the whiners. How’d that work for them and their bare grandstands.

  3. Under Fangio’s proposal, the only time we’d ever see a Tom Brady vs. Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers (NE/GB) matchup in the last 20 years is if both teams made it to the Super Bowl.

    Think about that. Over Brady’s 19 year career and never having a chance to EVER play on Lambeau Field. NO THANK YOU.

  4. In theory, it honestly isn’t a bad idea. But I think a better idea is keep everything the way it is but the two best overall records get a bye regardless what division they are in. Then division winners go on the road if they have a worse record than a Wildcard team (getting to the playoffs is enough reward for a weak team).

    Any team who wins a division under 8-8 doesn’t make the playoffs and that opens another wildcard spot.

  5. I agree with him. For someone like myself who’s not a team fan, I just don’t care about divisions. I’m a Bears fan by residency only and I just don’t care about the Bears/Packers rivalry. I just like watching good games… a good variety of games.

  6. I actually don’t hate the idea. Not bad Vic. I think re seeding is dumb, but this is a unique way to go.

  7. this would easily allow for 18 games. 15 conference, 3 OOC; one based upon placing, one based upon rivalry, one at random as works to fill out the schedule.

  8. Fangio is an idiot. Just throw away rivalries?? He is crazy. His way could totally screw teams over and make the games less interesting. If my team isn’t playing I’ll look for a good division match up to watch. They play twice a season and know each other well then throw in a little bad blood makes a good game. Fangio’s way would screw that up.

  9. This sounds like college where the same teams will always be at the top of the conference and the same at the bottom.

  10. This is how I think baseball should be but for football seems hard to coordinate schedule because of travel

  11. What about season ticket holders who enjoy seeing the best players
    Come to town? This plan sucks for the fans.

  12. I thought this was a great idea a while back including the “rival” game. Records are out the window when teams play rivals and it gives bad teams a “get even” game once a year. Alas, it makes too much sense for The Shield to implement.

  13. Not a bad idea. With an 18 game schedule like has been discussed, I’ve always thought you play each division opponent twice and your own conference once. Makes it a little more balanced. NFC teams, for example, should make the playoffs by beating fellow NFC teams. The AFC division that drew the NFC East this year has a better chance of success than the division that drew the NFC West. Shouldn’t be that way. Beat your own conference teams and then settle supremacy in the playoffs.

  14. Its a dumb idea. Just as dumb as those who think a team that fumbles into the end zone should keep possession of the football.

  15. Changing schedules or divisions or playoff format will kill the history of the game and take away importance of divisional battles that are missing in NBA and NHL. Why let idiots change history of game and regional rivalries. Anyone who wants to change divisions add more playoff teams etc will just water down the game where every game is important. Same for realigning divisions. Just get better as a team. complaining about schedules divisions playoff format is just an excuse to explain away your failures. The Browns and jaguars have been bad for so long not because of schedules divisions or format. They are bad because of bad management. Based on their poor records they get easier schedule an d pick higher in draft every year. There is a salary cap so all teams on level playing field regarding finances. If you have same finances, pick higher in draft, and have an easier schedule and you continue to lose that is mad management and bad coaching.

    Lets not let idiots change the game because they suck at running a team. It is just another excuse losers make. The NFL is great because a 16 game schedule makes every game during regular season meaningful and important. Once you take that away the sport will not be as good. Better that losers shut their mouth and get better.

  16. This idea makes a lot of sense. Modify it to switch conference opponents every other year: One year play all 15 in your conference plus a random opponent in the other conference, the next year play all 16 in the other conference. That way every city gets to see all the teams in the league over a two year span.

  17. When the Browns, Colts & the Steelers went to the new AFC, that was a dramatic change that people never thought would happen. The idea of not playing so many inter-conference games is a good one.
    The reason why MLB’s All-Star game & World Series aren’t as exciting anymore is because they play so many inter-leage games during the season. With Fangio’s format, the Super Bowl would have more meaning, like it used to in it’s early days.

  18. Still say, add one extra team to the playoffs on each side. Then only the top team gets the bye. That way, teams play to the end both for the bye and to get into the last spot. Also adds an extra game by having 3 wild card games for each conference.

    I’d also love to see them get rid of seeding based on winning your division. It’s stupid….highest record, period.

  19. You are still missing the point, there will be an obvious disparity amongst strength of schedules across either division for one team versus another. At least in a divisional protocol, a team, as long as they claw there way to the top of their division, will still be able to claim a seat at the playoff table.
    In the early 90’s, when the NFC East was the best division, with the Giants, Washington, then Dallas’s superbowl run, those teams were eeking into the playoffs with 10-6 records. Meanwhile, SF, who were able to rack up easy wins because they were in a very weak division, were walking in with the number one seed with 12-4 records. Yet each NFC E teams were able to contend because they were the better team, despite what their records were.

  20. @mackcarrington says:

    The reason why MLB’s All-Star game & World Series aren’t as exciting anymore is because they play so many inter-leage games during the season. With Fangio’s format, the Super Bowl would have more meaning, like it used to in it’s early days.
    The reason MLB’s AS/WS games aren’t exciting is because baseball is boring as hell, plus they play 300 games and have to wear winter clothes during WS.

  21. Make it like MLB:

    In one conference a team has to have their QB play on defense. In the other, they can play 11 defenders. The route that the Superbowl is played will depend on the Pro Bowl results.

  22. The main reason this will never happen is TV markets. Divisions are largely based on geography, which ensures nearly all parts of the country are in the playoffs, thus more likely to watch on TV. If it’s solely record based you could end up with no west coast or east coast team and less diverse TV market options for generating the almighty ad revenue.

  23. Don’t know why they can’t reseed?

    Division winners always make the playoffs but that doesn’t give them the right to host a playoff game.

  24. I like the idea of seeding playoff teams based off of their records as opposed to getting rid of divisions entirely. If you seed teams based off of their records, their will still be division champions you just want have years like this year where a pretty good Rams team will be left out of the playoffs entirely or years like this year where a 8-8 or 9-7 Cowboys team will get to host a home playoff team.

  25. A better idea would be to leave divisional play the way it is and add another round to the playoffs. 8 teams from each conference would make the playoffs. The first round would have 5 vs 8, 6 vs 7, lowest remaining seed would be equivalent to current 6 seed, highest equivalent to 5 seed. The remainder of the playoffs would remain the same. As the one comments said, sometimes the reason a division has records that are not very good is that most of the teams are good, while a team in a bad division ends up with a really good record (SF in the Montana, Young years, Patriots now). When your team is having a bad year, the prospect of playing spoiler to a good team in your division is interesting, while playing some random team could be quite boring. Eliminating inter-conference games would be a bad idea, some of the most interesting games are inter-conference games.

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