Does the NFL honestly need more teams in the playoffs? Frankly, no but there's a chance it may happen anyhow because NFL owners might vote on a plan to expand the playoffs next season at their meetings in Phoenix according to a Daily News reported Tuesday.
The newspaper also reported that the playoffs would increase from six teams to seven for each conference if the plan were approved next week, citing anonymous sources. The current playoff format has been in place since 1990.
When the eight-division format was instituted this past season, commissioner Paul Tagliabue and other top officials said the NFL most likely would use the playoff system for several years to see if there were inequities to be addressed. He said at the time that change, if any, was several years away.
With seven teams, the newspaper said, only the No. 1 seeds in each conference would get first-round byes -- instead of two under the current format. The other teams would play in the wild-card round.
Granted, this idea is nothing more than speculation but playoff expansion is a lousy idea. The current format is not necessarily perfect but it's acceptable. There may not be an enormous difference between the No. 1 and No. 7 team in each conference but the proposed idea would further dilute the postseason because nearly half the teams would qualify – thus lessening the accomplishment.
In addition, the proposed scenario would make the NFL playoffs border on the NBA postseason, where a team really has to stink not to qualify because 16 of the 29 teams gain a postseason bid over an 82 game season.
There's another significant reason the NFL should not expand its playoff format. There are 32 teams with eight divisions comprising four teams and adding a playoff format would also diminish the importance of winning a division title.