There is much to be hashed out lately as the NFL and NFLPA meet and re-meet at the table in ongoing discussions to come to terms on a potential ratification of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but don’t expect wholesale changes across the board between now and then — if ever. While both sides are working on the possibility of extending the regular season simultaneously reducing the preseason by two, there are still other changes some would like to see take place, and that includes not only expanding the NFL playoffs to include more teams; but also to consider reseeding the bracket entirely.
The latter, however, doesn’t appear to be a topic of discussion, and likely won’t be anytime in the near future. There is reportedly “zero steam” behind the idea of a new reseeding format, per Adam Schefter of ESPN, who goes on to note “it’s never been a consideration.” That doesn’t mean minds can’t change if the right people demand it — i.e., droves of fans and, more importantly, several NFL owners — but it does put the kibosh on the thought in 2019 and the immediate seasons to come.
That is, of course, much to the chagrin of teams who’ll be left out in the cold in January simply because they didn’t win their division, while carrying a better record than a team that did.
The current playoff format automatically awards the four division winners in each conference a tournament spot, but there’s a perennial issue in that blueprint, because it always leaves open the likelihood of a team with a better record being forced into a wild-card seat, or missing the playoffs altogether. Dallas Cowboys leading the division with a sub-.500 record at 6-7, while the Minnesota Vikings (8-4) and even the dominant San Francisco 49ers (10-2) currently sit in the No. 5 and No. 6 seat.for reference, with the
The dilemma isn’t as pronounced this season in the AFC, but it’s still present, with the Buffalo Bills (9-3) sitting at No. 5 going into Week 14, while the Houston Texans (8-4) and Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) hold firm to the No. 3 and No. 4 seat, respectively.
It’s entirely possible, as it has been in the past, for a team to win their division below .500 and still participate in the playoffs, and many argue that’s harming the quality of the sport. Their stance is simple, in that a playoff should include the best teams period, as opposed to automatically rewarding eight of the 12 playoff spots to division winners, record be damned.
The alternate point is that even a 7-9 team can make a run at the Super Bowl, and has before, and considering the league thrives on such Cinderella-esque drama — despite it’s improbability — it’s likely that’s a key driver in their refusal to budge on the matter. The NFL understands all the fuss, but apparently has no willingness to address their age-old formula going forward, so that’s pretty much that.