By: Jordan Kendall, Sports Editor
The NFL is about to make some history, expanding the regular season for the first time in over 30 years. It’s the longest the league has waited to expand the season in its 100-year history.
This is one of the main results that came from the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the league and the NFL Players Association. It will be enforced starting this upcoming season and lasts until 2030. Two significant changes came with the new CBA, the regular season schedule expanding to 17 games as well as a 14-team playoff.
This means the AFC and NFC each get another team in the postseason, and only the top seed in each conference gets a first round bye. The players voted to pass the CBA and did so by fewer than 100 votes. This was a heavily discussed topic for weeks and there were players who both were for it and heavily against it.
As a fan, I was one of the critics and here’s why.
Jim Mora said it best, PLAYOFFS?
My issue with the expanded playoffs is that teams who usually would miss out are now getting a chance to compete. This was clearly a financial motivation by the league, more games equal higher revenue.
But it also means that last season, the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers would’ve made the playoffs. The Rams were 9-7 and the Steelers were 8-8. To me, these records don’t deserve a playoff berth. I believe you should have double digit wins to earn a spot. Although teams with these records have reached the playoffs, only eight teams since 2010 have reached the playoffs with nine or fewer wins as a wild card. 2017 saw two teams in the AFC achieve this, as the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills both qualified.
Pittsburgh lost their final three games of the season and went 4-4 in their last eight games just like Los Angeles. The Steelers wins only came against non-playoff teams, and the Rams only had two wins vs playoff opponents. If you can’t beat the best teams during the regular season, why should you get the opportunity to play them again in the playoffs?
It’s likely gonna be a blowout and by the fourth quarter, I’ll have to change the channel. Maybe I’ll tune in to the playoff game if it’s broadcasted on Nickelodeon next season, hopefully the winning coach gets slimed instead of a Gatorade bath.
I’ve had an idea for the playoffs that would reward the top teams more than the current system does. I want to see the teams seeded based on the record and any tiebreakers, but the top four seeds and a home game aren’t guaranteed to division winners.
If a 9-7 team or 10-6 team wins their division, it doesn’t say much about them. It says a lot more about how poor their division was. The 9-7 Philadelphia Eagles didn’t earn the right to host the 11-5 Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks were inches away from the top seed in the conference, they shouldn’t have to travel across the country to face a team in arguably the worst division in the league.
17-game season, a preview of what’s to come
The 17-game season doesn’t start until 2021, but I think it’s a sign of what’s coming in the future. The owners got 17 games for now, but they’re going to push for 18. They originally wanted 18 but compromised with the players.
There are a few issues I have with this new format. Until the number of games returns to an even number, half the league is going to get an additional home game. I don’t think this is fair to the fans, especially from the teams who have the best attendance and fan support.
I also think it’s unfair to players who are on teams that don’t have the fan support such as the Los Angeles Chargers. They’re moving into a 70,000-seat stadium but couldn’t fill half of a 27,000-seat soccer stadium. Their home games were almost road games because of opposing fans taking over the stadium.
I think the league should capitalize on this but feature matchups between teams who don’t play each other often, especially NFC and AFC teams within a close area. The Steelers and Eagles alternating stadiums every year would be a game I’d want to watch.
What about the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys? They both play in Texas but only play every four years. The NFL has these unique “rivalries” they don’t seem to take advantage of. If one team is getting an extra home game, let’s make it something special.
The NFL made some notable changes for the players, one being a relaxed policy on marijuana use. But I think the CBA benefits the league much more than the players. Even with the increased salaries for most of the players who aren’t making millions, I don’t feel it truly benefits the player as much as it seems.