It would appear that the NFL is inevitably going to expand its postseason by two teams, putting nearly half of the league in the playoffs as early as 2015.
This was certainly not the 2015 that I had envisioned when Marty McFly went back to the future ... two.
The alleged new system will involve two more wild card teams making the playoffs, one from each conference, and one fewer team getting a bye week. Only the No. 1 seed would skip the wild card round, which last season would have meant that only the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos had byes.
The 8-8 Pittsburgh Steelers and 10-6 Arizona Cardinals would have made the playoffs, with the Steelers headed to New England to play the Patriots and the Cardinals facing the Panthers in Carolina. Whether or not it would have made a difference remains to be seen, but it certainly seems like we're going to see it soon.
But is that really the only way for commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL to accomplish what they're hoping to accomplish with an expanded playoff system? I think there are several other ways, and perhaps they'll be more viable and exciting for the fans, as well.
Here are a few of those proposals:
Bring back the BCS
NCAA football's loss could be the NFL's gain!
The now-defunct BCS National Championship system for college football, clearly one of the most-loved implementations in sports history, is a free agent. The fact that the NFL is now looking for a new playoff system seems like pure kismet that can't be ignored.
So, does that mean that the NFL should simply apply the BCS formula to its own league and have the team with the best score in each conference simply meet in the Super Bowl without a playoff system? Obviously not, that would be stupid.
The only logical thing to do would be to go ahead with Goodell's plan of adding two playoff teams, but rather than have it be two NFL teams, it will just be the two college teams that finish 1-2 in the BCS standings! Every year the debate rages when it comes to whether or not the best college team could beat the worst NFL team, and every year it seems more pointless than the last.
But the only way to know for sure is to try it.
You'll also be killing two birds with one stone by paying money to the college athletes who make the temporary jump to the NFL for a Super Bowl run. The only question is whether or not the players at Alabama and USC would be willing to take a paycut.
"The Roger Goodell Cash Grab" playoffs
The NFL is already worth a collective "billions of dollars," but as Justin Timberlake once told me over brunch at Applebee's: "You know what's better than a billion dollars? Several more millions on top of that. I mean, it's always good to just have more money, you know what I mean?"
JT really likes to state the obvious, is what I'm saying.
With more playoff games -- at this point the proposal may just be for two additional games, but if the NBA is any indicator, half of the NFL could be playoff teams by 2020 -- it means more money. Which is really what this expansion is all about anyway. So why not just cut out the middle man and avoid risk of injury?
In this scenario, 12 teams still make the playoffs instead of 14, but rather than play football, each team places commissioner Goodell in a homemade "Money Grab Machine" that shoots $100 bills in a vacuum and gives him a chance to grab thousands of more dollars without having to add additional games for teams that don't really belong in the playoffs. The team that makes the best Money Grab Machine and invests the most money into shooting the Benjamins in Goodell's face advances to the next round.
It's a nearly flawless strategy that still somehow makes Joe Flacco one of the top contenders every season.
Global Expansion: 20,000 Leagues
The Super Bowl doesn't go as far as, say, the World Series in terms of trying to definitely say that the current champion is also the champion of the whole world, but it does pretty much say that. Not only does that slight dozens of other nations and leagues and thousands of other players, but it also ignores millions in potential foreign revenue.
I think Roger Goodell's ears are burning!
The NFL has been working hard on globalizing its product, and what better way to do that by than globalizing your playoff system? Domestically and internationally, there's the Canadian Football League, the Arena Football League, the American Professional Football League, American Indoor Football, Australian Rules Football, Australian Is Pretty Good At Football, the Continental Indoor Football League, I Mean Australian Isn't Bad At Football, the Independent Women's Football League, the Lingerie League, and it's not too late to bring back the USFL and the XFL.
He Hate Me? More like, He Love Me if he can bring in a billion Euros.
There's the European Football League, the Austrian Football League, the Belgium Football League, the German Football League, The Human League, A League of Their Own, the South Korean American Football Association, the North Korean Football League (existence of said league can't be proven, but I hear that Kim Jong-Il is still winning it every year), and the Beijing Flag Football League in which no player is allowed more than one flag.
There's no reason to stop at just traditional football either, and many of those above leagues really aren't the "football" we know in American anyway.
It wouldn't be hard to expand to rugby and then eventually into futbol, which is only a couple of letters away. The NFL has already employed baseball players, basketball players and wrestlers, not to mention that it isn't averse to hiring people with no football skills whatsoever, like Brandon Weeden, so why not just expand to all sports?
A global tournament of all sports to really and finally determine a true champion of the NFL. It's the only way. But there are also these ways:
The 28-team playoff system
Nah, this is too similar to our current system.
The 32-team playoff system
This might be the craziest idea of all, but hear me out on this one.
You may be saying to yourself, "32 teams is too many to have a viable postseason!" but that's only true if we place them in a win-or-go-home, one-game survival system like we currently have. What if instead of that, we don't just expand the number of playoff teams, but -- and Goodell will love this -- the number of playoff games.
Right now there are four rounds in the postseason with 12 teams and 11 games. In my 32-team system, there will be 263 games!
Take the 32 best NFL teams right now, force them to play a 16-game playoff system in which the 12 best teams move onto the final four rounds, culminating in a "Super Bowl" championship game to determine the winner. I know it sounds crazy but, hell, maybe it's just crazy enough to work.