Sports Outside the Beltway

What if NFL Used the BCS Model?

Brad Edwards ponders that question:

The truth of the matter is that the NFL is better suited for a BCS-type method of determining a champion than college football. There are significantly fewer teams, so there are more common opponents to use as a basis of comparison between two teams. The NFL regular season (16 games) is 33 percent longer than the college regular season (12 games), so there’s a larger sample of games by which to evaluate teams. And with the league’s TV package, it would be much easier for voters — if the NFL actually had them — to watch every game played each week.

But as fate would have it, the league with 32 teams narrows down to a 12-team playoff, while the division with 119 teams gives only two of them a chance to play for the title.

If the NFL had made the move to a two-team playoff model along with college football in 1998, the Steelers would not have played in last season’s Super Bowl. The Seahawks might not have either (it would have been tight between Seattle and Denver for the right to play Indianapolis). The Eagles would not have played in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Panthers would not have played in Super Bowl XXXVIII. The Patriots definitely would not have won Super Bowl XXXVI. And those are just the ones that are certain. It’s possible that more than half of the Super Bowl teams over the previous eight seasons would not have ended up there in a system like this.

Now, one could argue that a single elimination tournament where an 8-8 team that’s suddenly hot has a chance to knock off a team that worked since training camp to go 14-2 is unfair. Any given Sunday and all that.  No one seems to be dissatisfied, though, with the outcome of a playoff.  Few are happy with the NCAA and it’s “integrity of the regular season” model.  Then again, neither seems to be hurting for people willing to shell out for tickets or watch games on television.  Americans love their football, regardless of how the champions are crowned.

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