January 10, 2014

Expanding the NFL playoffs isn’t the answer

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

I’m sure you’ve read enough about how amazing wild-card weekend was. Seriously, it was great. If you didn’t watch any of it, you missed out on some thrilling games and especially thrilling finishes.

So, why would the NFL want to mess with that and add more teams to dilute the wildness of wild-card weekend? That was the talk this week from commissioner Roger Goodell.

But adding another two teams and therefore two more games isn’t a great idea.

It’s not as if there are a lot of deserving teams that are missing out. Looking back through the past few seasons, there are a lot more 9-7 and 8-8 teams that would be getting in than the odd 10- or 11-win team that undeservingly misses out.

What the league really has to look at is seeding the playoffs properly, rewarding the teams with the best records rather than division winners. Why should the Packers play at home for winning the weak NFC North while the 11-win 49ers are forced to play on the road?

Also, the extra games would mean that only the top seeds would get a bye week, which would sting for No. 2 seed.

And do we really need a Monday night playoff game? That would put the winning team at a disadvantage heading into the divisional round on a short week.

While more playoff football sounds like a great idea on paper, in reality we just need a more fair system.

As for this week’s picks, the lines are from Bovada.

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks slammed the Saints in Seattle about a month ago, but times have changed. New Orleans’ running game has started to look able to bear some weight and provide balance for Drew Brees and the passing game – which could run into problems with Jimmy Graham blanketed by Seattle’s vaunted, physical secondary. But, because the Seahawks offence has gotten into a bit of a funk, it’s totally possible for this rematch to have a different outcome. At the very least, this one won’t be settled by more than a TD.

Pick: New Orleans +8

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots

The only non-rematch of this round could and should be the biggest blowout. The Colts got really lucky last week, thanks to Andrew Luck leading that massive comeback. This week, don’t expect T.Y. Hilton to getting that wide open against Aqib Talib and the Pats secondary. The amount of mistakes that Indy made last week was very amateurish too, which they can’t get away with against any well-coached team. The Pats shouldn’t let their home-field advantage go to waste here.

Pick: New England -7.5

San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers

The last time these two teams met, it was a defensive slugfest that Carolina took in San Francisco. Well, they shouldn’t get too excited because the Niners are going to get their revenge. This team is heating up thanks to the return of Michael Crabtree and all still capable of playing a grinding game too. While it’s very rare to see a home dog in Round 2, it’s a deserving line and the favoured 49ers should cover. Worst-case scenario, this could be a push.

Pick: San Francisco -3

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos

The two times these teams met this season, they were incredibly close games and the Chargers made the high-powered Broncos offence look mortal. Last time, Wes Welker wasn’t playing though and Denver wasn’t coming off a bye. Peyton Manning won’t be messing around and the Cinderella story of Philip Rivers and Co. is about to strike midnight.

Pick: Denver -9

Last week: 0-2-2

This playoffs: 0-2-2

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