Expanded playoffs could make for even better Super Bowls

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More football, in most cases, is always good. More playoff games definitely are good.

But here’s one thing that may not be so good: The official expansion of the field from 12 teams to 14 places a gigantic premium on earning the top seed in each conference.

The No. 1 seeds become the only teams to get a weekend off. Which means that the No. 2 seeds — typically, the biggest threat to the No. 1 seeds — will have to play another game, putting the No. 2 seeds at risk of losing that game and also at risk of getting someone injured. Even without losing a key player for the rest of the postseason, the No. 2 seed will be more banged up than it otherwise would be since it will have played two games not one before a potential showdown in the conference championship game.

Although the No. 1 seeds first must get past their division-round games — and the top-seeded Ravens failed to do that in January — the new configuration will make it more likely not less likely that the Super Bowl will feature a matchup of the best two teams from each conference.

And that won’t be a bad thing when it’s time to play the Super Bowl. While upsets are fun to watch, they wipe out otherwise great games that would have come later. Ravens-Chiefs could have been a memorable AFC Championship for the 2019 season, for example. Turning back the clock by 35 years, New England’s postseason upset win over Dan Marino and the Dolphins was memorable — and New England’s blowout loss to the Bears two weeks later was forgettable, especially since the Bears otherwise would have been playing the only team that had beaten them during the 1985 season.

So, yes, the playoffs could be a bit more predictable. Eventually, some may clamor for expansion to 16 teams if only to remove the bye-week advantage for the No. 1 seeds. But the reward will come in the Super Bowl, when it’s more likely that the best two teams will make it through the conference tournament and to the league’s championship game.

14 responses to “Expanded playoffs could make for even better Super Bowls

  1. If you wanted the best teams to make it through the tournament they should be contracting the playoffs, not expanding them.

    This only means it’s less likely that the conference championship games will be played by the two best teams in the conference.

  2. Why would Ravens vs Chiefs be memorable? They got battered by the Titans. They wouldn’t of done any better against the Chiefs.

  3. 1985 season was a good example. I mean, I was 7 at the time but anyway while Miami only have themselves to blame for losing to Steve freaking Grogan – a 1985 prime Dan Marino against that Bears Defense would have been something. Upsets are fun in that very moment and are a part of sports to be sure, but the clock USUALLY strikes midnight on underdogs and it can dilute the product in bigger games in the long run. This will weed out the WEAK more

  4. And with this vote the NFL dipped closer to being like The NBA where the regular season becomes less and less meaningful

  5. wutangisforthechildren30 says:
    April 1, 2020 at 7:49 am

    1985 season was a good example. I mean, I was 7 at the time but anyway while Miami only have themselves to blame for losing to Steve freaking Grogan
    ======================================================================
    Actually, Tony Eason was the Patriot QB that day, which made it even more amazing. That win by the Patriots was their first victory in Miami – ever.

  6. “While upsets are fun to watch, they wipe out otherwise great games that would have come later.”
    ————————

    NONSENSE.

    The 2007 5th-seed Giants knocked off top-seeded Cowboys and then went on to meet the undefeated 18-0 Patriots. I seem to remember a pretty exciting Super Bowl match…

  7. Can’t wait to tune into the 2 seed 13-3 Ravens run for 700 yards against the 7 seed 7-9 Texans. Should be a blast.

  8. This assumes that the number one seeds are actually the best teams. That’s not always true. The number one seed is often a team that racked up wins playing in a weak division and/or had other scheduling advantages.
    Also, the ’85 example doesn’t work. The Dolphins were the #2 seed (Raiders #1). Miami beat an 8-8 division winner (Cleveland) to get to the AFC championship game.

  9. It’s amazing the number of football fans that don’t want an extra football game. It all gets sorted in the end, I’ve got no problem with the expansion.

  10. whatever the number of playoff teams participating, I would rather see the teams with the best overall records in each conference, to hell with subpar division winners. at the very least, no team should make the playoffs without a winning record (above .500)

  11. I think they should get as close to half the teams going to the playoffs to make it more exciting. Because there’s teams that actually deserve it that do not make it…

  12. fwippel says:
    April 1, 2020 at 8:08 am

    wutangisforthechildren30 says:
    April 1, 2020 at 7:49 am

    1985 season was a good example. I mean, I was 7 at the time but anyway while Miami only have themselves to blame for losing to Steve freaking Grogan
    ======================================================================
    Actually, Tony Eason was the Patriot QB that day, which made it even more amazing. That win by the Patriots was their first victory in Miami – ever.

    It wasn’t the Patriots’ first win in Miami, but close. New England had not won in the Orange Bowl since 1966, the Dolphins’ first season.

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