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Published on 12/12/2012 at Wed Dec 12 19:39.
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(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Big Pete on the commissioner’s plans to expand the playoffs… 

Today, Roger Goodell said that they are discussing the expansion of the NFL playoffs to either 14 or 16 teams. While I don’t know what is going through his brain, lets take a quick look at how this impacts the playoff structure as we know it.

As it stands, 6 teams in each conference make the playoffs with the #1 and #2 seeds having bye rounds. This leads to the #3, #4, #5, and #6 teams playing in the wild card round, with division winners enjoying home field advantage. The winners advance to the teams with the bye weeks.

If the playoffs are expanded, in order to keep conferences (AFC/NFC), they have to add a multiple of 6 to the playoffs, meaning 18 teams. That would mean that the top 3 seeds have bye weeks, and an extra 2 wildcard teams playing each other; the 3 winners in wild card weekend will advance.

In order to add an oddball number like 14 or 16, you’ll have to eliminate conferences altogether. This is the only way to make it happen without someone having a 2 week bye period in the playoffs.

While the idea of a Broncos/Patriots Super Bowl is definitely exciting to dream about, there are other issues that I see with eliminating conferences… The regular season schedule.

How would the regular season play out? You can’t very well give the playoff teams “1st place schedules”, or else the next year, all 16 playoff teams would just play themselves over and over again. Conversely, all the horrible teams would play themselves over and over again. This would dramatically dilute the quality of play in the playoffs, as there would be a handful of complete garbage teams making the playoffs each year because they were the “best of the worst.” The NFL would have to figure out a way to keep teams playing realistic schedules if they did away with conferences and just had a 1-16 playoff seeding.

What do you guys say? Tell me what I’m missing here. Are you for the playoff expansion? Do you think it dilutes an already fantastic system? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Jon Broncos Heath


    Don’t expand the playoffs.

    Don’t expand the regular season.

    Don’t fix what’s not broken. If you really care about player health, Roger, and not about the league making more money, leave the schedule alone.

    Half the teams in the NFL can make the playoffs? Give me a break.

  • Pete Baron

    Exactly!!! Do you realize that if there were 16 teams in the playoffs that only the Chiefs and Jaguars would be out of playoff contention? That’s right, a 6-10 team could make the playoffs, so every team that had at a minimum of 3 wins right now would have a fighting chance! This would kill the “specialness” that comes with being a playoff team.

  • Jason Holm

    The more Goodell speaks, the stupider he sounds. I don’t know what that means exactly – maybe they just need to fire the NFL PR person.

  • Speer999

    No, Roger Goodell needs to leave the NFL alone before it’s ruined. I’m already nervous about the players wearing new pads next season, (which will be mandatory), and each specific to their position. That could be a bad thing, or good, I don’t know yet. I should research that. The point is, he needs to retire, ASAP!!!

  • Pete Baron


  • areferee

    The Commissioner was hired by and works for the league owners. He is there at their bidding and has their financial best interest as his prime directive. That makes his role adversarial to the players and, at the very most, benign to football fans, as a whole.

    He operates in a special leadership role, unlike a democracy, as is the presidency, but more like a limited dictatorship. He is showing a tendency, over the last two years, of falling victim to the trappings of the power in a dictatorship.

    He should remove himself from the leadership role in player safety due to the obvious conflict of interest, and shift that responsibility to the Players Association. Then limit his own role as the owners public relations frontman for their financial gain, if he wants to maintain credibility as a force for the overall good of the game.

    What is being lost in the current NFL system, is the third and most important leg in the stability of the NFL “stool”, beyond the owners and players, and that is THE FANS. Who represents us in all of this?

    The commissioner would say that it is he, but Goodell is beginning to show signs of the bias that is built into this system toward ownership and ultimately “the bottom line”. Wanting an 18 game season and/or an expanded playoff structure are clearly examples of that mindset.

    It is the fans themselves that must exercise their influence on the good of the game by speaking out and by ultimately controlling the league at the ticket window and at the cash register.

    It is our game and our responsibility.

  • dogheadbrew

    By my math, you could have 16 teams, 8 per conference and start the playoffs with 4 games. No one would have a bye. 14 teams would mean that one team got a bye.

    Extend the season, play on Thursday, add to the playoffs, don’t expand the roster. Why is the league even talking about concussions and fines for hits? Lets ’round these &!*@$ng gladiators up and kill them.

  • Carlo Scuri

    Roger Goodell needs to stop thinking and go to holiday as soon as possible. The new kickoff rule and now the playoff expanded, he really needs some rest.

  • Pete Baron

    I agree 100%.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if fans could vote in Fan Reps to have a voice? Kinda like how Pro Bowl voting is 1/3 Fans, 1/3 Players, 1/3 Coaches… Have all things go 1/3 Players Association, 1/3 Owners, 1/3 Fans. I mean, without FANS, the league crumbles, as without a fan base, there is no money to have a league.

    Yes, owners and players are the day to day cogs in the system, but like any business model, if you don’t have a customer base (fans), the best product/business/system will 100% fail and go bankrupt. It’s about time that the NFL realize this and have FAN reps. We can vote for team Fan Reps, and then have the Team Fan Reps vote for their singular Fan Rep from amongst them or something like that.

    The majority of what makes the NFL the #1 sport in America is the scarcity of games. The demand is insane because the supply is miniscule. The more Goodell tries to flood the market with games, the more supply will even out with demand, and the lower ratings (and money) the product (football) will generate. Add into that the ever moving direction towards flag football, and honestly, if Goodell stays for the next 10 years, the NFL will be surpassed by some other sport, much the same way the NFL surpassed NBA and MLB.

  • Mergrath

    THIS! +10

    Leave it alone! What better examples do you need of meaningless regular season games than to look at every other sport out there! It is what makes football exciting!

    Goodell is an idiot and so are the greedy owners! PLEASE don’t mess up our sport anymore than you already have!

  • AZDynamics

    What you’re missing is what we all are missing: a way to get Goodell fired. I think he’s either incompetent or just plain nuts.

  • Pete Baron

    We can only dream!!!

  • TheTroglodyte

    His job is to make the NFL more money period end of story. You can hate every move he makes but the fact is he is damn good at his job. He isn’t going anywhere.

  • TheTroglodyte

    GREAT post! One slight disagreement

    “He should remove himself from the leadership role in player safety due to the obvious conflict of interest, and shift that responsibility to the Players Association. ”

    I agree he should remove himself from that role but he can’t turn it over to the PA as their sole interest is in fighting for what the players want rather than what is good for them. They veto’d forcing players to wear pads except for Helmet and Shoulder pads for crying out loud.

  • David DeHart

    Actually, you could have 7 teams from each conference get in, with only the top team having a bye. So the top seed from each conference gets a bye, they’d be a division winner, the other three division winners are in, and then you have three wild cards…

  • Pete Baron

    This is the exact type of feedback I was hoping to get. I knew there were more scenarios, and cutting down on how many teams have bye weeks is certainly one of the options that didn’t immediately pop into my head. Thanks for that feedback!

  • areferee

    Who else is there that has the authority or a vested long-term interest in the players, if not their own organization? (Please don’t say the government!)

    I believe there is representation within that group that would sanely look after their safety in spite of some who would be less judicious with their own welfare.

  • Gary_in_SD

    I don’t have a problem with 16 teams. No bye for anyone seems like a good idea to me actually. No chance for teams to get rusty, or at least they can’t use it as an excuse. The top seed would still get to have home-field throughout and and every team will have to win 4 games to win a championship. The best teams would (should) get easy 1st round opponents and the whole thing adds up to more football for me to watch!

  • areferee

    Hey Gar… say hi to my friends in Ocean Beach.

    I wouldn’t mind more football, if it is worth watching. But consider the teams that would be in the mix today if there were suddenly four more teams.

    Who would they be? The Jets and the Bengals? The Cowboys and the Bucs? Those four could be in the mix. Not much of an improvement for this season. In some years, it could involve teams with losing records.

    Do we really want to give a team that finishes with a 7-9 season an opportunity in upsetting a 14-2 team in the championship? That totally devalues the purpose of the season in my opinion.

  • AZDynamics

    Oh, but haven’t you heard? He’s damn good at his job. Of course, whatever that is, he’s also NFL Commish.

    It’s the latter I’m concerned about . . .

  • Darryl Cobble

    expanded playoffs = death of the game,from a fans point of view,any questions? Most fans are sick of Goodell already,he is taking the fan out of the equation with each year of his tenure,he is bad business to the future of the sport,I just hope the owners will wake up in time to realize this,im a 44 year fan,that’s already tired of the watered down version of the game i grew up on,the total lack of commitment,care,or concern of today’s brand of players,if i walk away/when i walk away,i promise you im that fan that will be done and not looking back,and i know im not the only one,im already aware that i don’t count anymore,fans don’t have a voice anymore,we are an after thought,not regarded as important or holding any sort of consideration or merit anymore,ill pose this question to those in the NFL that will listen,i know in my heart that i can live without Pro Football,but can the NFL game survive without ”Me” the ”Fan”??? ~Dj Bradshaw101~

  • Jim_Jebow

    Well said

  • Scott

    I really think it is time for Goodell to go!

  • TheTroglodyte

    haha no not the government. An independent board of sports doctors or something. Nobody inside the NFLPA gives a rats ass about players safety over their own job. They won’t take a stand because they don’t want to be fired by the players they represent. It has to be a 3rd party.

  • Toxik Zine

    What a dumb proposition to have 50% of the teams go to the playoffs.

    Time for Nogood-ell to go!

  • jdkchem

    You could do a 16 team playoff by eliminating the bye week for the top 2 teams in each conference. You would not need to eliminate conferences then.
    Half the teams making the playoffs works if you’re the NHL and you have a 7 game series. Not so well for one-and-done.

  • jdkchem

    Both sides could agree to a non-gornvement third party along the lines of ASTM.

  • jdkchem

    You could set it up like college hockey. You have in the WCHA for example a conference winner and a conference tournament winner. Your conference winner gets a kewpie doll and a bye and the conference playoff winner gets the conference trophy and one more payday.

  • Gary_in_SD

    Oh trust me, I get both sides of the argument. But think about the times you’ve seen a top seeded team come out flat and get bounced after the playoff bye week. Not to mention a team that’s suddenly hot at the end of the season, maybe due to finally getting healthy. Yet they just miss making the playoffs because their QB missed half the season. Then you’ve got scenarios where teams with better records than division winners miss the playoffs. This would definitely help equal that unfairness out.

  • Gary_in_SD

    Got to completely disagree with that first statement. Do you really think people would stop watching the NFL for a playoff format change? I’ve seen several changes to it in my life, yet the game just got more and more popular year after year.

  • Pete Baron

    Overprotection of players will be what kills the game. As soon as they put “no contact” jerseys on the QBs during games, I’ll stop watching… The sad thing is that I can totally see it coming. I’m sure it’ll still get ratings, but they won’t be from me. I’ll have to fill the void in my heart with something else. I’m not sure what else, but it’ll be something.

  • Pete Baron

    Overprotection of players will be what kills the game. As soon as they put “no contact” jerseys on the QBs during games, I’ll stop watching… The sad thing is that I can totally see it coming. I’m sure it’ll still get ratings, but they won’t be from me. I’ll have to fill the void in my heart with something else. I’m not sure what else, but it’ll be something.

  • anthony33

    Goodell needs to leave well enough alone. In my mind the only change that needs to be made is to shorten the preseason to 2 games… period. That make eveyone (except the owners of course) happy and is much better in long run for everyone.
    I have mixed thoughts as to whether or not he is a good commissioner. He has totally botched this whole Saints bounty scandal by only listening to one side of the story and not getting all the facts before handing out some unprecedented fines and suspensions. Bottom line is he has too much power.
    Leave our playoffs alone!!! The reason the regular season is so good is because every game matters. 12 teams is the right amount.

  • anthony33


  • Gary_in_SD

    I’m OK with the rules as they are now. There are still enough injuries to justify the rules that are in play, including those that happen to QBs. But yeah, they can’t take away the right of defensive players to hit the QBs and still have it be an entertaining game.