The Chicago Bears didn’t make the postseason in 2013, but by the year 2015, their path to the playoffs could get a little bit easier.
That’s because it appears that the NFL is going to approve changes that will expand the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams in that season. The measure, which was voted on by NFL owners on Monday, was tabled until the next meeting in October, but it appears as though it will end up happening in the near future.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told the media Tuesday that he does “believe it will be approved for the 2015 postseason,” and he isn’t the only one that thinks so.
“I know there is a lot of enthusiasm for it,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “The more teams that have a chance to get in the tournament the better. I think it adds more excitement.”
If the extra playoff spot is strictly a wild card spot (the most likely scenario), it still wouldn’t have helped the Bears in 2013. With an 8-8 record, the Bears would have been tied with the Cowboys, who owned the conference record tiebreaker over them. Neither one of the teams would have been able to take down the Arizona Cardinals however, who were shut out of the playoffs despite having a 10-6 record during the regular season.
While owners like Jones talk about how “exciting” the prospect of adding more playoff teams is, there are a few things that need to be remembered here. For starters, adding an extra playoff team will dilute the quality of competition in the playoffs. With an extra team this season, the AFC would have sent an 8-8 team to the playoffs, with the Pittsburgh Steelers grabbing the spot. While that won’t always be the case, odds are that a team who has a middling record will get a wild card spot and potentially upset a number two seed in the first round of the postseason.
The other thing to keep in mind with an extra playoff team is that the NFL will likely end up expanding the first round of the playoffs to either Friday or Monday (or possibly both). The whole joy of the opening weekend of the playoffs is that you get four games over two days, but having six contests over three or four days might be a bit too much of a good thing.
Of course, the NFL doesn’t believe in that kind of thinking. After all, they are the ones talking about expanding the NFL Draft to four days and pushing it forward to Memorial Day weekend.
What do you think, Bears fans? Should the NFL expand the playoffs, or should they leave it as a 12-team tournament?