The NFL announced a significant change to its playoff schedule on Friday, and Tony Dungy is among those who believe it could become an issue.
With the playoffs having been expanded by one wild card team in each conference last year, the 2021 postseason will now feature a Monday night game. Of course, that means the winner of the game will be guaranteed to have to play a road game on short rest in the Divisional Round. Dungy said the NFL has always tried to avoid that scenario even in the regular season. He criticized the NFL for introducing it in the playoffs now.
Obviously, a Monday night game will draw better ratings than a Saturday game. NFL fans are used to having a game on Monday night, so the schedule change won’t be an issue for them. It will, however, put the winning team at a disadvantage over teams that play on Saturday and Sunday.
Dungy certainly is not the only one from the NFL world who expressed concern about the schedule change.
The NFL has officially announced that Monday night football is coming to the playoffs, and the news drew mixed reactions from fans and the media.
The NFL expanded the playoffs last season by adding a wild card team to each conference. There were three Wild Card Weekend games held on Saturday and three on Sunday. Beginning in 2021, however, there will be two games on Saturday, three on Sunday and one on Monday night.
There were a variety of responses to the big change on Twitter:
A lot of concerns were raised over teams having to play on short rest. That already happens with some games on Sundays and some on Saturdays, but the Monday night game now guarantees a short week for the winner. The NFL will likely avoid making it even shorter by assuring that the two teams that meet on Monday night will play the following Sunday.
Obviously, the NFL made the change with ratings in mind. NFL fans are already accustomed to games on Monday nights, and there is little doubt the Monday night playoff game will draw better ratings than it would have on Saturday. As with any change, however, there is sure to be plenty of opposition.
There’s a pretty big obstacle to any talk about the College Football Playoff getting pushed back to accommodate extra games.
Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman laid out a key issue on Saturday’s edition of “Big Noon Kickoff.” Feldman pointed out that any delay in the CFP significantly jeopardizes TV broadcast schedules. The reason? The NFL’s expanded playoffs would threaten to clash with the games.
“January 1 is the day when the semifinal games are scheduled,” Feldman said. “If you try to push the games back, you run into very few viable TV windows because the NFL playoff structure has been expanded this year.”
Sure, the NCAA could find a different TV network. However, they will not want to go head-to-head with the NFL if at all possible. The NFL made this change months ago, so there will be little sympathy for the NCAA if it’s scrambling to find a way to schedule postponed playoff games.
Major changes are coming to the NFL playoff format under the proposed new CBA.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL is set to expand the playoffs to seven teams in each conference, reducing the first-round byes from two teams to one and essentially adding an extra Wild Card game per conference. The changes are contingent on the NFL and NFLPA agreeing a new collective bargaining agreement, which is growing likelier, and would take effect for the 2020 season.
Schefter reports additionally that players on teams that receive a first-round bye would receive postseason play for that weekend, which is a change from the current rules.
The proposal is similar in some ways to recent changes floated by MLB that have proven unpopular. The reason is quite simple: two more playoff games would mean two more TV broadcasts and a lot more cash. It also opens the door for teams that hover around the .500 mark to make the postseason. Some will like this because it opens the door to more playoff teams, but expect plenty of criticism over potentially devaluing the regular season and rewarding mediocrity by letting more teams that stagger to 8-8 finishes into the postseason.
Had the Indianapolis Colts not lost to the New England Patriots by 38 points in the AFC Championship Game, they would probably be more upset over Deflategate. But because they were beaten so badly and everyone knows they would have lost even if the Patriots were throwing Nerf balls, Pat McAfee is free to make his jokes.
After word surfaced that 11 of the 12 balls the Patriots used last Sunday were found to be under-inflated by about two pounds per square inch, McAfee sent this hilarious tweet.
Colts defensive back Darius Butler had a similar reaction, though not nearly as entertaining.
Of course, there’s no way the Patriots are going to have to forfeit anything other than some cash and potentially a draft pick or two.
McAfee is easily one of the funniest guys in the NFL, and some of his best tweeting has come during the playoffs. We’re not surprised Deflategate brought out the best in him.
Now that there are only three games remaining in the NFL regular season, you may find yourself wondering who can clinch a playoff berth on Sunday. LBS has got you covered. We’ve taken the time to break down the playoff situations for seven teams who have a chance to clinch something on Sunday. Here are your NFL playoff scenarios:
Atlanta Falcons Playoff Spot Scenario
a. Falcons win at Seahawks
b. Giants loss vs. Eagles
c. Bears loss vs. Vikings
d. Packers loss at Patriots
New Orleans Saints Playoff Spot Scenario
Win at Ravens AND
Buccaneers loss to Lions AND
loss by Bears, Giants, or Packers