NFL 2021: Super Wild Card Week Hey Nineteen

Yeah, that’s fair. I’ve been tilting at the “smaller playoffs are better” windmill for years now, and it’s not going anywhere. The NFL will have 16 teams soon, I have no doubt. And MLB will keep expanding as well. I think it’s dumb, and just increases the changes an “unworthy” team will win the championship, but oh well.

My guess is that it’s to prevent a coach from purposely slowing down a game by challenging some minor aspect of almost every play. Is it 2nd and 8, or 2nd and 8.2? Did the runner go out of bounds with 9:34 remaining in the first quarter, or was it 9:35? That sort of thing.

You’re right though. Having the #2 seed vs the #7 seed is kind of ridiculous. You’re setting up a blowout to air on national television.

Then again, we get stinkers all the time on MNF/TNF throughout the regular season so… :man_shrugging:

It is what it is.

Also you’re going to always have unworthy teams in the playoffs as long as the NFC East exists. :laughing:

Lest we forget (as I did), last year there were also 14 teams in the playoffs.

In the AFC, there were four 11-5 teams: Titans, Ravens, Browns, and Colts. Titans won their division, so the other 3 teams were wild card teams. The Colts were the #7 seed and lost to the #2 Bills 27-24. The Browns, #6, beat the #3 Steelers 48-37, and the Ravens, #5 beat the #4 Titans 20-13.

In the NFC, the 8-8 Bears were the #7 seed and got beat by the #2 Saints 21-9. But the #6 Rams beat the #2 Seahawks 30-20, and the #5 Bucs beat the #4 WFT31-23. (Of course, WFT was just 7-9 in the unworthy NFC East.)

So last year in the AFC having the extra wild-card team made for a damn good first weekend. The NFC, not so much, although two wild-card teams won their games. Lot different than this year.

To get to the Super Bowl, at this point, an “unworthy” team (which I’ll arbitrarily define as being one of the lower wild card teams, or a division winner whose record was only around .500) will have to win three games, at least two of which will be on the road, and which will primarily be against “worthier” teams.

Yes, in any given game, the weaker team will sometimes win, but if a .500-ish team can get hot enough to run the table, on the road, in the playoffs, against what appear to be superior teams, maybe they aren’t truly “unworthy.”

First define worth.

If we want to value the regular season and winning the division, then they aren’t worthy.

But if we value more randomness in results and willing to devalue regular season games, then, sure, they’re worthy.

Either way has elements of subjectivity and both are valid ways of thinking but one should be chosen ahead of time. That’s at least consistent.

Saying “well, let’s wait to see who wins” is just bandwagon thinking

The 2012 NY Giants won their division with a 9-7 record. The two NFC wild-card teams that year, the Lions and Falcons, both had 10-6 records. The other 3 division winners that year were 15-1, 13-3, and 13-3. So the Giants had the sixth-best record in the NFC.

Giants beat the Falcons at home 24-2, then the 15-1 Packers on the road 37-20, then the 13-3 Niners on the road 20-17. In the SB, the Giants beat the Pats 21-17.

That was an impressive playoff run. I certainly wouldn’t consider the 2012 Giants unworthy.

I was thinking that a team owner could use the scheduling quirk to over- or under-sell the economic impact of their team. Tell the city you’re trying to leave “the eight games last year only brought in $X revenue, so we can’t remain in this market”, then tell the city you want to move to “the nine games next year will generate $Y at local businesses, like bars and restaurants, so I deserve tax breaks to move my team.” Anybody who’s paying attention shouldn’t fall for it, but issus like this don’t always account for the details.

As you note, they might try, but it’d be pretty quickly seen through. Any city which looks at only one year’s worth of numbers kind of deserves what they get.

Also, FWIW, I think that the only NFL franchise at this moment which really has any potential for relocation in the foreseeable future is the Jaguars – small-market city, hemmed in by the fan bases of other southeastern teams, and they’ve been at the lead of the league’s flirtation with London for several years. (Buffalo might be next on the list after them.)

You can’t really challenge minor things. It’s all stuff that changes the play. 1st down or not, reception or incompletion, etc.

There was a Browns game I watched where they challenged an obviously incorrect ball placement on what should’ve been a first down. They reviewed it, concluded that the ball was indeed placed incorrectly, moved it up about a foot, measured with the sticks… and it still wasn’t a first down. I think the Browns were still charged with a timeout because, even though the review did result in a changed position of the ball, it didn’t affect the nature of the outcome (no first down). So I think there are already rules to cover that “insufficiently consequential challenge” scenario. Or the Browns got jobbed, which is also fairly likely.

If a team gets hot late then awesome. More power to them.

You also have situations where a team has injury issues in the regular season but by the end of the year all of their key players are available, and they are stronger than their records indicate. Especially if the other top teams are missing folks through attrition in the offseason.

Go Niners!

I think challenges are valuable enough that it would be quite rare for a coach to feel that trivial ones are in his team’s best interest. Trying to dispute, say, the spot of the ball by a few inches runs way too much risk of being wrong.

I would also suspect that such a coach would soon find that he is no longer getting any benefit of the doubt in any judgment call from the officials (including the results of replay reviews).

My wife pointed this out to me…

Brady is incredible. And I say that as a huge Joe Montana fan.

I always like to think about the what-if.
?
Brady was a 6th round pick. If Drew Bledsoe hadn’t gotten hurt would Tom have ever had a chance

Or
What if the “Tuck Rule” had gone the other way. The Pats would have likely lost the game. You obviously have to replace Bledsoe going forward with “2001 Superbowl Winner Brady” . But could you replace him with “2001 good season, but Divisional Playoff Loser Brady” ? Bledsoe was one of the top 3 QBs in the league going into 2001.

Today is the 20th anniversary of that game.

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