Thursday, April 1, 2010

My NFL Proposal

So a lot has been discussed about this silly OT proposal, where a team that kicks a field goal in their first possession would then allow the other team to get the ball and an attempt to score.

Fine. I'm not too concerned about this, seeing as this would only show up in the playoffs and the odds of seeing OT games are slim as it is.

What I'm more interested in are the discussions about moving to a 17-game season. Where is all that chatter? Well, I couldn't sleep, so I thought I'd provide a proposal that I think would work very well and add even more intensity to this league. Who doesn't want more intensity? Check it out...

There are 32 teams in the league, so I say split them up into 4 total divisions based on regions. Each team would then play the other 7 teams in their division twice - totaling 14 divisional games - and then one team from each other division - totaling the remaining 3 games.

This would create additional rivalries. For instance, what could be called the Northeast division would essentially combine the current NFC and AFC East, with a few exceptions. You'd have Philly, Washington, NY Giants, NY Jets, New England, Buffalo, Baltimore, and Carolina.

Other divisions would be:

Some classic rivalries would be broken, but I don't think this would kill the league. Dallas moving to the "Southern" Division might have an effect, but I would think playing teams closer to home over the years would help develop better, fiercer rivalries.

Anyways, this plays into the NFL wanting a 17-game season. All teams essentially play the same strength of schedule with this equal round robin format. Also, travel costs are cut substantially. Fans are able to go to more games, instead of having to fly out west for multiple games, for instance, in the current format. And ultimately, true regional champions are determined before the Super Bowl is played for league bragging rights.

I mean, who really cares about the Cleveland vs. San Francisco game if it doesn't involve two great teams? Not to mention, attendance doesn't reflect this. And most people aren't watching these types of games (San Diego vs. Buffalo? Detroit vs. Oakland? Washington vs. Seattle? Huh???) unless they have fantasy implications.

Sure, it's nice to see your team play someone out of their division and region, but let's limit that to 3 times per year. When you're playing 14 games of true divisional meaning, fans and players are more likely to show up and get up for these. Why wouldn't a Washington vs. Carolina rivalry work? Dallas playing Houston twice a year makes much more sense to fans in the Lone Star state. Who wouldn't want to discuss that rivalry going forward?

There's plenty of room to play with the inter-divisional schedules, too. If Dallas still came out East to play Washington every year, there's room for that in the 3-game out of conference schedule. And the playoff schedule could see the North play the South one year and then the North play the Midwest the next. Maybe the top 3 teams in each league make the playoffs, with the bottom two fighting it out for a guaranteed third matchup that year to play the top team who has earned a bye week.

Personally, as an Eagles fan, this allows me for more chances to see my team play. A schedule with both New York teams twice lowers my travel costs over the season if I'm a die hard and raises the likelihood I could show up to more games. East Coast bias? Perhaps, although a Denver vs Arizona match-up twice a year isn't exactly a worse situation for Broncos fans than they currently experience. Denver vs. Oakland? Who goes to those games anyways?

I think the most fitting argument is that this would put more fans in stadiums. If you're only relying on Jacksonville's fans, for instance, to fill the stadium when San Francisco comes to town, well, you see how that goes. But when JAX plays Tampa, Miami, and even Atlanta every year, you're more likely to see those fans show up from the short distances from JAX to fill the seats. I know certain teams travel well, but I also know this isn't saving the NFL in that regard, as Pittsburgh fans aren't selling out the Oakland stadium when they travel out west to play the Raiders.

So, there you have it. Sure, this may kill a few historical rivalries like the Cowboys vs. the NFC East, Indy's current rivalries with the AFC South (not really that strong anyways, except over the last 10 years maybe?), and the Dolphins vs. the AFC East, but I think the new regional rivalries would have a chance to grow very quickly. Heck, if Miami came out of the South to play the Jets in the playoffs, I'm sure that would create an even more dynamic match-up. Or Dallas vs. Philly in the Super Bowl? I'm sure the football gods would work their magic.

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