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pf9

Revamping playoff seeding

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The NFL is expanding to 14 playoff teams this season, though eventually I want a 16-team bracket, because the first-round bye has become too much of a competitive advantage in recent years.

Since 2002, teams have generally been required to win their division in order to host a playoff game at any point, with the only possibility of a wild card team hosting is if all division champions in a conference have been eliminated before the CCG.

This has caused various seeding inequities. In 2010, the Seahawks won their division with a 7-9 record, yet got to host a playoff game because of that fact; they ended up upsetting the Saints, the defending champs, in the Wild Card round.

Conversely, there have been times where a team finished with the second best record in the conference or even tied for the conference's best record, but that team technically finished in second place in their division behind the #1 seed in the conference, like what happened to the Chargers in 2018.

Thus, division winners don't necessarily deserve a top 4 seed let alone the ability to start the playoffs at home.

I've proposed that seeding priority for division winners be removed. The team owners may not want it, but I don't think the NFL's TV partners share those views. They probably will force this change (along with college OT rules) upon the NFL in order for the networks to consider renewing their rights.


Thus, being a division winner would no longer be a requirement to start the playoffs at home. This could help teams like Cleveland who have not hosted a home playoff game in decades, and in their case never at First Energy Stadium, the oldest NFL venue never to see postseason football above the high school level.

Thus, if the two best teams in the conference end up being from the same division, they'll still have a chance to meet in the CCG, meaning a wild card team can rise as high as the #2 seed in a conference; conversely, a division winner can fall all the way to the #7 seed (#8 once the playoffs are 16 teams.

It hasn't been since 1989 that a division winner had to open the playoffs on the road. We are long overdue for such an occurrence to happen again.

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I've always been hugely against 50% of a League making the playoffs. Makes the Regular Season feel so degraded. I always thought 12/32 was perfect. And my ideal custom league I always make in games like OOTP and Football Simulators is 42 teams and 16 team playoff.  Perfect ratio in my opinion.

NBA and NHL is way too many teams with 16/30 and MLB was too small with 8/30. Although 10/30 is an improvement. But NFL is king with the 12/32. Even 14/32 I honestly think is too much.

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The increased amount of playoff teams would be mitigated by the removal of  seeding priority for division winners as it would make more teams compete for seeding.

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9 minutes ago, BayRaider said:

I've always been hugely against 50% of a League making the playoffs. Makes the Regular Season feel so degraded. I always thought 12/32 was perfect. And my ideal custom league I always make in games like OOTP and Football Simulators is 42 teams and 16 team playoff.  Perfect ratio in my opinion.

NBA and NHL is way too many teams with 16/30 and MLB was too small with 8/30. Although 10/30 is an improvement. But NFL is king with the 12/32. Even 14/32 I honestly think is too much.

100% this.

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1 minute ago, pf9 said:

The increased amount of playoff teams would be mitigated by the removal of  seeding priority for division winners as it would make more teams compete for seeding.

The thing is though, a #1 seed 14-2 team shouldn't have to play a #16 seed 8-8 team in a one game sudden death. Even if they do have homefield advantage. I feel the 15th and 16th seed will almost always be 8-8, especially the 16th spot. 15th team might be 9-7 sometimes. I've always felt to make the playoffs, you should always have a winning record, in any sport.

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Except the NFL will keep a conference playoff format so there will be no true 9, 10, etc. seeds.

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33 minutes ago, BayRaider said:

I've always been hugely against 50% of a League making the playoffs. Makes the Regular Season feel so degraded. I always thought 12/32 was perfect. And my ideal custom league I always make in games like OOTP and Football Simulators is 42 teams and 16 team playoff.  Perfect ratio in my opinion.

NBA and NHL is way too many teams with 16/30 and MLB was too small with 8/30. Although 10/30 is an improvement. But NFL is king with the 12/32. Even 14/32 I honestly think is too much.

I used to think like this too, and it usually is right. The problem is, suppose a 'better' team does have the injury bug and normally wouldn't make the post season. If this new format allows them in, maybe it's good but only then.   Everyone frowned when the seahawks hosted the saints the one year, it could repeat.  

However, how often has a 'better' team actually missed the playoffs anyways? I don't keep track but I would expect it to be perhaps once every few years and that's it.  

Edited by 3rivers

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18 minutes ago, BayRaider said:

The thing is though, a #1 seed 14-2 team shouldn't have to play a #16 seed 8-8 team in a one game sudden death. Even if they do have homefield advantage. I feel the 15th and 16th seed will almost always be 8-8, especially the 16th spot. 15th team might be 9-7 sometimes. I've always felt to make the playoffs, you should always have a winning record, in any sport.

I can see what you are saying, but I can also see the other side of it too.  Allowing some 8-8 teams to get into the playoffs makes the season better for more fans.  Otherwise, when your team goes 8-8, it's almost worse than going 3-13 because you don't get any playoff action and you also have a mediocre draft pick to look forward to six months down the line.  If your team goes 8-8, the chances are they will be bounced in the first round by one of the best teams in the conference, but at least it gives you some hope, and occasionally, you might pull the upset and knock off the great team.  (That can be good AND bad for the league though). 

If you are a team that just went 14-2 and you get to play an 8-8 team in the first round, it SHOULD almost be like a mini-bye because you should be so heavily favored.  Another benefit to it would be that it would decrease the big advantage teams are currently getting with the first round bye.  They still have an advantage by playing an average team, but at least it's not a week's vacation while the other teams have to play.

At the end of the day, there good points and bad points about having 16 teams make the playoffs. 

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The NFL would still keep a conference-based playoff format even with the removal of seeding priority for division winners.

So there would be no true #9, #10, etc. seeds in the playoffs.

If a 16-team playoff without division winners getting seeding priority had been conducted in 2010 for example, Seattle would only get the #8 seed in the NFC. Meanwhile four NFC teams finished 10-6, and they would have had to figure out who got the the 4-7 seeds.

Last year, the Eagles won their division despite being only 9-7. Thus, in even a 14-team playoff, without seeding priority for division winners, the Eagles would have only gotten the #7 seed, losing a tiebreaker for #6 to the Rams, thus the Eagles, despite winning the NFC East, would have had to open the playoffs in Green Bay. The Rams would have visited New Orleans in the first round, while Seattle would have hosted Minnesota, and if a 16-team bracket was in effect, Chicago would have visited the 49ers.

The only changes to last year's AFC playoffs would have been at least the addition of a Steelers at Chiefs game in the first round, and under a 16-team model, Broncos at Ravens would have been added too (Denver was one of four AFC teams to finish 7-9, yet they would have won all tiebreakers for the #8 seed).

The inevitable expansion of the playoffs to 16 teams brings television into play.

Beginning with the 2023 season, I'd like to see the reverse mirror introduced for Sunday afternoon games on CBS and Fox, where additional games assigned to those networks could be seen in markets without the need for Sunday Ticket (which would still be required when a timeslot on a network has 3 or more games assigned to it; games airing on the singleheader network in a given week are counted as airing in the same timeslot), CBS games would be distributed via the Paramount Movie Network (as it has more carriage than sister network CBS Sports Network and formerly known as Paramount Network), and Fox games via Fox Sports 1, a method which would allow multiple games of local interest to be shown in a market without the need for Sunday Ticket.

When the playoffs would expand to 16 teams, the reverse mirror would be used in the 1 PM slots on the first weekend, with CBS and Fox alternating the 1 and 4:30 slots on Saturdays and Sundays every year. Only games set in the Eastern and Central time zones would be eligible for reverse mirror, save for the highly unlikely scenario where three West Division teams in either conference (with Kansas City not being one of them in the AFC) finishing in the top four of the conference, in which case a network would be permitted to use the late afternoon slot for the reverse mirror. This saves the league from having to conduct postseason games on days other than Saturday or Sunday.

Edited by pf9

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I understand your overall sentiment, but I disagree.  The biggest reason why I do is because you are putting enough weight into SoS.  Teams in the same division play 14 common opponents.  In your scenario, teams will be rewarded more for weaker schedules.  In previous years, if the Pats (and the rest of the AFCE) played let's say, the NFCE, they's have a far easier schedule than say a team in the AFCW playing the NFCW and the AFCN.  Giving division winners a top 4 seed helps level the field.

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My proposal to remove seeding priority for division winners actually increases the likelihood that a team will get a home playoff game at the end of the season.

As I mentioned earlier, this would help teams like the Browns who have gone decades without having a home playoff game. The Browns have never hosted one at their current stadium, a product of the settlement with Art Modell, and a huge reason why I want Cleveland to host a College Football Playoff title game (as well as an annual non-CFP bowl at the stadium).

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I disagree with all this. You threw it in there as an aside, but college OT rules are complete trash.

14 teams in the playoffs is fine - don't need more.

As for the bye - so? Every team has the opportunity to get it. The bye works in the NFL because there's only one playoff game. In the NBA, the first round series for the top seeds are basically like a bye - that would not be the case for an NFL team. The 14-2 Ravens got dominated by the 9-7 Titans last year. The NFL is just too fluky and there's too much parity- the number one seeds would lose to the 8 seed more frequently which is why the bye works

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I hate expanded playoffs. Keep it tight. Contrary to what some people think, it's better to leave good teams on the outside looking in if it means preventing bad teams from getting in. Having to be a good team and fight to make the postseason is a GOOD thing. Having it actually mean something when you say "xyz was a playoff team last year" is a good thing.

And yes absolutely reseed once the postseason starts so that division winners don't automatically get a home game. You get a playoff spot, that means something and it's good enough. Everybody always says "If you're the better team then just go on the road and win!" Then fine, apply that same logic to the division winner. If you're really the better team because you had a rock fight of a division, then prove it by going on the road and winning. Like I don't know why that argument only gets pointed in one direction.

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I liked the old format top 6 seeds in each conference. It worked for decades only reason they changed it was added games and revenue.

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We have this conversation every few months :)

The owners will never go for not having a reward for winning the division crown, even if the division sucks. I thought last year's week 17 drama between the 49ers/Seahawks wouldn't have been as exciting if whoever won didn't have to go on the road and have to win three straight to get to the Super Bowl. Seattle would have I think gotten a home game then over the Eagles if seeding was different. Ehhh, why are you getting rewarded for not finishing first in your division? You should be punished.  

As for expansion, no. 50% of the league shouldn't be in the playoffs. That's lunacy to me. 

Edited by TecmoSuperJoe
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