Playoff systems

Now that the NFL is considering expanding the playoffs, I thought I’d take a look at the different playoff systems used by the various leagues.

NFL: IMHO, they shouldn’t expand it, no matter how big the league eventually gets. Two of the great things about this league the playoffs are not decided until the final week and nearly every team that makes the playoffs has a chance (n.b. Denver and Baltimore winning the Super Bowl from the #4 spot). Adding two more teams won’t make the end of the season more exciting; it’ll just create two more playoff losers.

NBA: There’s been a lot of criticism about 16 teams making the playoffs every year, but unfortunately I think this is a necessary evil. Unlike the NFL, there isn’t a lot of disparity between the top teams. IIRC, two #8 seeds beat a #1 seed (Denver and New York), and one made it all the way to the finals. The reason the net is so wide is to prevent the top dogs from getting complacent, and in light of the two big upsets (and Sacramento’s near-upset of the LA Lakers), I have no problem with this.

NHL: Again, there isn’t a whole lot of space between #1 and #8, and they gotta keep the favorites honest. If anything, I could see the playoffs being reduced to 12 teams. This would put more emphasis on winning games in the regular season while still letting everyone who has a realistic chance at the Cup in.

Baseball: Expanding the playoffs was a mistake. The regular season so long that divisional playoffs are just plain unnecessary. Besides, adding an extra round took away one of the things that made this sport unique.

College basketball: Believe me, 64 teams is plenty. Way I see it, if your team isn’t good enough to make the Final Four anyway, you have nothing to complain about.

Division I-A football: Should probably go with 8 teams. If not 8, than 16. But at least 8. And definitely more than 2, at any rate. (That’s right, I don’t like the BCS at all…does anyone?)

European soccer: Whatever. Anything’s better than 25 “champions”. :slight_smile:

There’s only one champion in a European football league, DKW, and one winner in each cup competition (usually only one or two). They’re not equivalent. They aren’t played in the same format. The prestige is not the same.

Playoffs are used in the UK in two leagues. In the Football League (England), the bottom four teams in each division at the end of the season are relegated to the division below (the exception is the lowest professional division, which relegates one club to semi-professional football). The top three teams in each division at the end of the season are promoted automatically to the next division up. The final promotion place is decided by a playoff system.

The clubs in fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh places are randomly drawn to play two semi-finals. These are played over two legs, one at each club’s home ground (to prevent home advantage being a deciding factor). If the result is tied over the two legs, the teams play extra time and go to penalty kicks if needed.

The two winning semi-finalists meet in a playoff final match at a neutral venue at the very end of the season.

The second type of playoff is in the Scottish Premier League. The bottom team enters a playoff against the winning team from the division below. It’s not a good method; in my opinion, it only happened this way to prevent a big club from being automatically relegated a few years back (at a time when the SPL was cash-strapped).


At least the European soccer competitions involve more than one European country (unlike the World Series). :stuck_out_tongue: