Expanded playoffs in the NFL have been rumoured for a number of years now and it appears that it is finally closer to becoming a reality.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was recently in Tampa and offered his thoughts on expanding the NFL’s post season (full transcript can be found here).
“The first point is the thought is it could create more excitement as we get down to the playoffs, two more teams having a chance to qualify for the playoffs. But what I really think is so unique about this league right now, it has never been more competitive as a league.”
“And that’s due to great coaching and great general managers and the system that we have. That includes revenue sharing and it includes the great players and college football bringing great talent into this league. All of those things have combined to keep this league so competitive that we’re not just adding two teams to add two teams to the playoffs – they actually have a chance to make it to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl.”
“And some teams are afraid. Those 12 teams are afraid to add the 13th or 14th because they’re pretty dangerous at that point in the season. If we can do that because of the competitiveness of the league, make our game even more exciting, our regular-season even more important than it is, I think that’s appealing for the league and I think it’s most importantly appealing to the fans.”
“So I think it’s something that will happen. I don’t know if it will happen in ’14 or if it will happen in ’15. We’ll decide that in a few weeks, but it’s something that there’s a great deal of appeal and excitement about.”
Personally, I’m all for expanding NFL playoffs. More football is always a good thing and it would bring some extra importance to the regular season if two more teams were chasing playoff berths.
As for the Bucs, it would be a great benefit. They play in the NFC South, which is arguably the toughest division in the NFL, so if there is an additional avenue to make the post season without winning the division or getting the first two wild card spots that would be a tremendous asset.
An NFC South team has claimed one of the NFL’s wild card spots in four of the last six seasons, thus showing how strong of a division it is, despite the fact each team plays the other three teams in the division twice a year . If a third wild card is added, there’s a good chance that we could see two NFC South teams pick up wild card spots, one of which could belong to the Bucs.
Also, the NFC has become the stronger conference in recent years with multiple teams showing that they are perennial Super Bowl contenders so adding an extra team from the conference to the playoffs would not weaken the product.
While the Bucs are far from a perennial Super Bowl contender, having the increased possibility of making the post season would speed that process up, as a young team could garner valuable playoff experience.
However, at the end of the day, the Bucs still need to be a good football team to be in position to nab a wild card spot (or division title) and having finished last in the division in each of the last three years, it shows they have a lot of improvements to make still.
The proposal to add another wild card spot to each conference will take place May 20 and owners could vote to implement it for the 2014 or 2015 season.
The Bucs haven’t made the playoffs since 2007 when they won the NFC South with a 9-7 record. They lost in the Wild Card round to the New York Giants, who went on to defeat the New England Patriots in that year’s Super Bowl.