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Instant Reaction: NFL teams approve playoff expansion

Arizona Cardinals new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim (R) talk to the media at the Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on January 9, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the NFL announced postseason expansion had been approved.

Beginning this coming season, one extra Wild Card team per conference will make the postseason, increasing the total number of playoff teams to seven.

The No. 2 seed will no longer have a first-round bye under this new format. Only the top seed in each conference will get to rest the first week of the playoffs.

Here are instant reactions from the Arizona’s Sports hosts and reporters about the news:

Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf

I’ve been a big fan of this for years. I love the change. I don’t care about team No. 7 getting in as much as I care about team No. 2 no longer getting a bye. I’m not in favor of a 16-team playoff. I want the reward for being the No. 1 seed to be much stronger than the No. 2 seed. The old system made the difference pretty minimal between the No. 1 and the No. 2.

Being the only team that skips the first round of the playoffs is a huge incentive and it makes for better December football.

For those that are focused on team No. 7, the argument against is always attached to losing teams making the playoffs if you allow for another Wild Card. But that premise is either factually wrong or overrated.

The vast majority of teams who make the playoffs with a .500 or losing record do so by winning a weak division. Adding a Wild Card team doesn’t have anything to do with who wins a weak division, so don’t bring up a bad team that made the playoffs in previous years if they won their division. Guess how many below-.500 teams have made the postseason as a Wild Card under the current four division winners, two Wild Card teams format: one!

The No. 7 seed getting into the playoffs barely waters-down the playoffs, while giving the No. 1 seed the only bye dramatically “waters-up” the last month of the regular season.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo

I like the idea largely because I think at the bottom of the playoffs, you won’t let in the riffraff. If you go back and look over a period of several years, most of the teams that would have benefitted from this were winning teams or at the very least had .500 records.

To me, the most compelling part is only one bye handed out. Hopefully this incentives teams at the top to push hard to make sure they get it. The second seed having to play an extra game is the real game-changer here. The 2015 Arizona Cardinals team would have had to play an extra game under this format. Would that have changed anything? We’ll never know, but it might have.

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo

At this point I am willing to accept anything with no regard for whether I like it or not as long as we have sports. But thinking ahead, I believe the expanded playoff idea is both good and bad.

It will be good when a team like the 2008 New England Patriots led by Matt Cassel go 11-5 and makes the playoffs instead of missing them like they did. And it will bad when a 7-9, 7-8-1 or even an 8-8 team makes the playoffs. Something about rewarding mediocrity just rubs me the wrong way.

But the reality is expanded playoffs will keep fan bases tuned in longer, giving their team hope that they can get into the postseason. It will also help teams that have a devastating early-season injury or suspension and get off to a slow start recover and have something to play for.

Basketball has 16 playoff teams. So does hockey. So going to 14 is not earth-shattering here. We have had bad teams make the playoffs in every sport, so we will just have to live with some very average teams getting a chance. Who knows: Maybe one of those teams will shock the world one year and we will talk about them forever.

Ron Wolfley, co-host of Doug & Wolf

I’m not a fan of the NFL expanding its playoff format to 14 teams but I’m not going to gouge my eyes and roll on the ground about it. That happened when they “outlawed” Oklahoma drill, where two players lineup across each other and have at it; may the better man win.

14 teams in the postseason is almost half the league and I could easily see them deciding to put half the league in one day. The slippery slope of raising even more billions awaits. 12 teams seemed perfect. The regular season mattered. 9-7 (sometimes 10-6) might not get you in. And while we’re at it, prepare for 8-8 (or 7-9) as a wildcard team.

In summation, I’m not going to lose my mind over WHAT they do to the game when HOW you play the game has been so impacted.

Paul Calvisi, anchor for Doug & Wolf

If an expanded postseason means a reduced preseason — then I’m Paulie Playoffs.

That’s not to say I need more playoff games.  Nope.  I’m good with a dozen playoff teams.  Even though a red-hot Cardinals team missed the 2013 playoffs with a 10-6 record.  #Ouch

But if the price of eliminating meaningless games in August is adding elimination games in January, then we call that addition by addition.

Luke Lapinski, host of The Rundown

I actually really like this move for a few reasons. For one, I live in Phoenix and there’s a much better chance the Cardinals make the playoffs now. And even if they don’t, they should at least still be in the race playing meaningful games in December.

At the same time, it’s not like 14 teams is too many. We’re not watering down the playoffs here, that’s still less than half the league. I wouldn’t go to 16 – though I’m sure they will someday – but 14 is a good number.

What I like about this most, however, is that it adds value to getting the top seed in your conference. A lot of value, actually. Being the only team to get that coveted first-round bye now is huge. We’ve seen teams in the past coast to the No. 2 seed and a free trip to the second round just because they’re in an awful division, but now those teams will have to prove it in the opening weekend of the playoffs. So, in a weird way, this actually makes the regular season more meaningful – both at the top of the standings and on the playoff bubble.

Oh yeah and it also means an extra playoff game. And more football sounds pretty good to me right now.

Vince Marotta, Co-host of Bickley & Marotta

When it’s all said and done and the world resembles something normal again, we’ll look back on this self-quarantine situation as conditioning.

Condition for what, you may ask.

The expanded NFL Playoffs.

With the owners voting to approve the plan to increase the number of playoff teams from 12 to 14 for the upcoming NFL season, thousands of people will be chained to their couches on Wild Card weekend for up to 10 hours.

I have a simple way of looking at this. NFL Playoff football is good. I like it. So why would I not want more of it?

I know the complaint is that it takes away a first-round bye for the second seed in each conference, but on the flip side of that, this new format could go a long way in decreasing the number of meaningless games in Weeks 16 and 17 (and eventually Week 18) at the end of the season because teams will be trying to earn that bye.

There’s also a fear of more teams with sub-.500 records getting into the postseason, but that fear is unfounded. That’s only happened four times. The first two times both came in the strike-shortened 1982 season and even in 2010, when the Seahawks won the pitiful NFC West with a 7-9 record, they provided one of the most memorable playoff moments in recent history before being ushered out of the mix after winning one game.

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