The Nuts and Bolts of the “Enchanced” Season
I have some vacation time this week, so I figured I’d try to shore up the NFL game and solve some of the business issues they’re having. The Nation Football Post has a great series of articles about the NFL’s labor situation, and how it might shake out. Seems the 18 game season is going to happen. Some of the interesting ideas, all of which seem sensible to me:
- Addition of a second Bye Week
- Larger Roster Size
- Change in Vesting Requirements for Pension
- Increased Roster Size
- Increased Gameday Roster Size
- Decreased Offseason Work
For all the details, please read Andrew Brandt’s excellent article at the National Football Post.
The sorry state of the NFC West draws attention to the problem of 4 team divisions in each conference. A division goes in the tank and a couple of 10-6 teams miss the playoffs. The Patriots missed the playoffs at 11-5 in 2008 when the AFC West sent the 8-8 Chargers.
The problem as I see it is that 4 teams are too few for a division. Only 6 games are in division. The bulk of the season – 10 games (as presently configured) – is determined outside your division. It seems unreasonable that 62% (67% in an 18-game season) of your
schedule lies outside of your division and yet winning your division gets you in automatically. Assuming the Rams win on Sunday they’ll be in the playoffs at 8-8, sporting an in division record of 4-2. Outside their division: 2-6, 6-6 in conference. So the best teams in the conference aren’t going.
That’s a problem. Right now, there are 3 teams in the NFC that have better records than the Rams within the conference (in fact, no matter what happens Sunday, all 3 will finish with better conference records): The NY Giants, Green Bay Packers, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Two of those teams will not make the playoffs. All of them may well win 10 games.
I Say Realign!
I say realign. And the 18 game schedule presents the perfect opportunity to do so. Realign into the 4 divisions of 8 teams each, 2 divisions per conference. And do it simply: merge the East and North Divisions and the South and West divisions of each conference. And give the divisions real names.
National Football Conference
Green Bay Packers
New York Giants
New Orleans Saints
San Francisco 49ers
St. Louis Rams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
American Football Conference
New England Patriots
New York Jets
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers
Playoffs are simple: division winners get automatic bye and home advantage in divisional round. Wildcards are the next 4 best teams in each conference.