One of the many discussions we had last week surrounded the issue of a Wild Card team having to go on the road to face a division winner with a worse record. It happened twice this past weekend with the 49ers traveling to face the Packers and the Chiefs traveling to face the Colts. It ended up a split as the Chiefs blew a huge lead, while the 49ers won on a last second field goal.
The discussion on this comes up every year, and I think our best discussion was in germinator's FanPost about the issue. And it turns out the NFL commissioner did catch the media discussion of the topic. Unfortunately, he does not believe there is momentum for a change in playoff seeding.
"I don't think there is momentum for that. I would probably disagree. There may be momentum in the media, that happens when you see San Francisco going to Green Bay, but one of the premises we start with every season is that your first objective is to win the division. And when you win the division, you should have a home game."
"We've discussed this for decades in the NFL and we believe that's the right priority. And when you do, you should have that home game. I don't see the owners pushing for a big change in that, and that's ultimately where it has to come from. I know this has been discussed in the media, but I don't see that happening."
I think the second paragraph is especially telling. He is not necessarily thumbing his nose at the fans, but it seems to show where his mind is at. This is not surprising since he represents the owners. And maybe there is no momentum from the owners. But that does not mean they are right.
In germinator's FanPost, he discussed how the change from three divisions in each conference to four divisions. Adding the extra division thinned out the herd, and opened the door for some weaker division winners to claim playoff berths.
Unfortunately, it is possible we will have a further thinning of the herd. There were some rumors on Monday that the NFL was looking at adding a wild card team to each conference. On Tuesday, Goodell discussed the notion of adding a playoff team in each conference, and seemed excited about the idea. He pointed to the fairly wild Week 17, and felt this would make it that much more exciting.
The idea would be to add a wild card team, and take the bye away from the No. 2 seed. This means we would have six wild card games that first weekend. Goodell discussed the television options. The conservative option would be three wild card games on Saturday, and three on Sunday. However, Goodell also broached the idea of one game Friday, two Saturday, two Sunday and one Monday. Goodell says it is all up for evaluation.
None of this is a done deal, but I have to think the seventh playoff team is going to be happening. It waters down the playoff field, but I can live with it. However, the notion of Friday and/or Monday playoff games is a little tough to consider. The Friday game means four days of preparation for the two teams playing that day. Thursday Night Football is already brutal. Friday would not be quite as bad, but it still represents a shorter than normal week.
As for Monday, as long as you could guarantee that Monday winner would not have to play until Sunday, I could live with it. You already get four teams playing a short week from Week 17 Sunday to Wild Card Saturday. It's not ideal, but there are worse ways to handle it. That's not exactly an inspiring turn of phrase, but I'm not sure we'll be stopping this particular bit of momentum.