Bottom line is expanded playoff would have no payoff
Posted: Monday March 27, 2006 10:33AM; Updated: Monday March 27, 2006 11:40PM
If the NFL had allowed two more teams into the postseason last season, Dick Vermeil would have gone out as the coach of a playoff team.
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ORLANDO -- Thank God, I think. The NFL will likely table a Kansas City proposal to increase the number of playoff teams by two this week and take the matter up in May at the next conclave of owners.
That's good and bad. Good that there aren't the 24 votes required to expand the playoffs. Bad that there's still sentiment to try to salvage the plan through further discussion among owners and the TV networks. That's the worst thing, as far as I'm concerned.
One member of the competition committee told me Sunday at the annual league meeting that there will be discussion in the next couple of months about expanding the playoffs by two teams and four teams before the owners meet again in May. So as much as it's a good thing the playoffs won't be expanded this week, it's bad that they might be expanded, and expanded by as many as four teams, sometime this spring. And I know that TV is the tail that wags the NFL dog, but it's absurd if the networks have anything to say in these discussions more than, "We'd put any extra playoff games on the air.''
What a disaster waiting to happen. I am an avowed status-quo guy about the playoffs. A 12-team playoff field (out of 32) is enough. More than enough. Over the next 10 years, adding a seventh playoff team in each conference would do more to reward mediocrity than it would to act as a safety net for the occasional 10-win team that doesn't make it.
The current system protects the integrity of the regular season. The best two teams in each conference get the benefit of a week off, then at least one home playoff game. To expand the playoffs by four would be a gross injustice to the best teams from the regular season, giving them no advantage but home field in the playoffs. To expand the playoffs by two teams would also diminish the importance of the 16 regular-season games.
The bottom line is this: There is no sane reason to expand the playoffs, unless money is the root of the issue.
Last season, adding two teams would have rewarded Kansas City's 10-6 record in the AFC and Minnesota's 9-7 mark in the NFC. The Chiefs were a quasi-legitimate playoff team, but I can't cry for a squad that gets absolutely steamrollered by the Giants in their biggest game of the year in a shameful display of defense. The Vikings had no business being in the playoffs, even though they played well in the second half of the season. Outscored by 38 points last year, Minnesota lost four games by 20 points or more. That's not playoff material. These "injustices'' are reasons for expanding the playoffs? Ridiculous. In 2004, the extra NFC team would have been New Orleans. The Saints went 8-8, 6-6 in conference games, and were outscored by 53 points.