Roger Goodell: Playoff expansion is "under serious consideration"

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met the press yesterday, holding a public forum in New York City to discuss all matters NFL. When the topic of expanding the playoffs was broached, Goodell didn't hold back.

“That is under serious consideration" Goodell said. "One of the great things about the NFL other than it’s unscripted is that every team starts the season with hope.”

Such expansion would likely entail adding an additional wild card team to each conference.  As a result, only the conference's top seed would earn a first round bye, with the 2-seed playing the 7-seed on wild card weekend.
“It’s something that the competition committee looked at last year and thinks there are some real benefits from a competitive standpoint. They’re going to study some aspects of that because when would those games occur and one team would get a bye in each conference and you’d have six games on the weekend. So would you have three on Saturday, and three on Sunday? Or do you get one on Friday and two on Saturday and two on Sunday and one on Monday? I think those are the kinds of things we want to evaluate.”
As enticing as the possibility of Monday Night playoff Football is, I'm not sold on this idea. Goodell attempted to sell it by noting that 13 of the 16 games played in Week 17 had playoff implications, but that seems to indicate that the current setup is perfectly fine as far as creating intrigue. In fact, an extra playoff berth in each conference could lead to more teams clinching early, leading to more situations like the Chiefs JV squad playing the Chargers varsity (in a game that was only meaningful because both Miami and Baltimore choked away opportunities to clinch earlier).

Furthermore, adding an additional playoff berth would dilute the product more often than not by adding an undeserving team. For every situation like this year's NFC, which had 10-6 Arizona on the outside looking in, there's far more situations like the AFC, which saw San Diego need a missed field goal and two botched calls to beat Kansas City's backups and sneak in at 9-7. Would the playoffs really be better with 8-8 Pittsburgh involved as a sacrificial lamb?

One of the NFL's best qualities is the importance of it's regular season. The NBA, NHL and MLB all play long, dragged-out seasons that lead to the occasional uninspiring game. On the contrary, NFL teams only get 16 games to earn their place in the postseason. The importance of every win and loss is inherently magnified, as any solitary loss in September can ultimately be the difference between 10-6 and in or 9-7 and planning for the draft.

To no one's surprise, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is behind the idea of 8-8 teams making the playoffs.
“From the standpoint of looking at how exciting it is for a city or a community to be involved in the playoffs and the fact that you can have a team that might have literally operated at .500 or in that area … you can have that team win the Super Bowl. That makes a big case for adding a couple of more cities or communities that have NFL teams to the playoffs.”
Actually, Jerry, no one wants to see your mediocre Cowboys be able to go 8-8 every year and still get into the playoffs. However, I can think of one reason this expansion will probably become a reality sooner rather than later.