NFL Looks To Expand Playoffs, Could Bubble Be Next?
News broke yesterday that the NFL is considering expanding the playoffs to 16 teams. Eight teams from the AFC and 8 teams from the NFC. The league had already decided to expand from 12 to 14 teams before this season began but with COVID-19 numbers on the rise in the nation and the NFL, the NFL Competition Committee is preparing for a shortened season.
You can't read about, listen to, or watch the news on the NFL right now without seeing some player or team being affected by the coronavirus so it makes sense that the NFL would begin to make contingency plans to get to a fair outcome for the 2020 - 2021 season. Adding a playoff team on each side is a nice step towards what other leagues like the NBA and MLB did to give as many teams as possible a chance at a fair resolution but it might not be enough.
What happens if going into week one of the playoffs the top seeds on each side who were originally going to have a bye into the second round lose a key player to COVID-19? Imagine the Steelers without Ben Rothlisberger, the Chiefs without Patrick Mahomes, the Seahawks with no Russell Wilson, the Buccaneers without Brady. It's hard to believe they would be even close to what they were expected to be with their star QBs. So think about it like this, the Chiefs lose to the Raiders in the first round of the playoffs because Mahomes isn't there and they were supposed to have a bye. That would be a nightmare for the NFL (even if I would personally love it)! If we're at a point the NFL is adding to the playoffs to offset lost regular-season games, how long until they start a playoff bubble? To be honest, unless fans are allowed at the games I would support setting up locations that would limit exposure and ensure a fair resolution to the season.
My suggestion is to play the AFC games in Florida at Miami and Tampa Bay since Super Bowl LV will be held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa anyway. 1 vs 8 and 2 vs 7 at Tampa and 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5 in Miami. This way the 1 seed would have the advantage of not traveling if they won out. For the NFC play in Arizona and Las Vegas. The Stadiums are about the same distance apart as Hard Rock and Raymond James and do a similar seeding. Basically, whatever gets us a Super Bowl Champion is my goal.