The NFC playoff picture is crowded. The first-seeded San Francisco 49ers have 11 wins while the sixth-seeded Vikings have nine. Each NFC playoff team outside of the Vikings and the NFC East leading Cowboys have 10+ wins. The Cowboys currently hold the fourth seed due to the fact that they their division yet they have a losing record.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio was asked the possibility of a 17-game schedule and eventually got around to answering the question but mainly focused on how he would change the playoff format.
"Since the league went to 32 teams, which was when the Texans came in in 2002, my ideal suggestion -- which has never been put forth in front of anybody important -- I don't think there should be divisions," Fangio told reporters Wednesday during his press conference. "I think you've got 16 [teams] in each conference, everybody should play each other once. That's 15 games. If you want a 16th game, you play a natural rival from the other conference. You know, Jets and Giants play every year. Eagles-Steelers, Texans-Cowboys, etc. play every year and keep it at 16 games.
"You'll avoid the problem which is going to happen this year where probably an 8-8 team is hosting a 12-4 team. You're going to get the six best teams in each conference and the divisions always flow. There are some that are easy some year, there are some that have a bunch of good teams. That switches back and forth every couple years. I just think it'd be a good way to avoid it."
It's an interesting idea and you avoid the once in a while scenario of having a team with a losing record or even a .500 record hosting a playoff game or even having teams with better records making the playoffs over that team.
For instance, this year, the Cowboys would be out of the playoffs, the Seahawks would overtake the Saints for the three-seed based on the better win-percentage in conference games, the Vikings would move up to the five-seed and the Rams would be in as a six-seed (1- 49ers 2- Packers 3- Seahawks 4- Saints 5- Vikings 6- Rams).
Does the NFL really need divisions anyways? Why not have two conferences and each team in the conference play each other one time as Fangio suggests? As for the 16th game,while Fangio does suggest teams playing their natural rival, I think it would be better if the games were alternated. Using the Cowboys again, after playing everyone once in the NFC, they could play the Patriots one year, the Colts another year, and just make their way through the AFC.
I think this is a great idea and the NFL should take a serious look at reworking the way the playoffs are formatted to ensure that the six best teams do in fact make the playoffs and you don't have a mediocre team, no matter how big the TV rating would be, hosting a playoff game.