Bayou-Picayune Podcast, S02 EP27: Money Games: How to Force the NFL to Play Their Stars
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When a company tries to sell at full price, a diluted version of its own product customers tend to react strongly. Sometimes even petitioning their elected representatives to exert regulatory pressure on the company. This apparently does not seem to apply to the National Football League, the NFL, which provides a diluted version of its product nearly every year at the end of its season.
At the end of the regular season, especially in Week 16 and 17, teams which have already clinched their playoff berths, bench their quarterbacks and many of their starters so they do not get injured before the playoffs.
This common practice in the NFL is called “resting the players.”
A euphemism for when a team fields diluted product. The team with the best record oftentimes has already secured a first-round bye in the playoffs, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The team with the second-best record, if it has locked in the second seed, has also secured a first-round bye and home field advantage against every team in its conference except the top seed.
And the other two division winners, if they have clinched their divisions, will have secured home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs where they will host one of the two wildcard teams in the first round of the playoffs.
In other words, if a team has already wrapped up its position in the playoffs, it has nothing to play for. In fact, in some instances, it has actually been better for a team that has already wrapped up its seeding to lose its final game to ensure it gets to play an easier first round opponent.
No word from the NFL about assessing penalties such as fines or forfeiture of draft picks. No mention about offering rebates or discounts to ticket holders for games that mean nothing.
The NFL ignores the problem of teams tanking or throwing games at the end of the season.
Nothing to look at here. They seem to tell us. It’s a quirk, an anomaly based on the way the playoff teams are seeded. Since the NFL is incapable of rectifying this problem, I will make my own modest proposal.
Here it is.
In 1990, the NFL extended its 16-game schedule to 17 games by giving each team a one week bye in the course of the season. These byes starting with the fourth week and running through the twelfth week featured less than 16 games. Then for the final stretch of the season starting with a week 13 and running through week 17 the NFL resumes with a full slate of 16 games.
My proposal is to call this final stretch “The Money Games.” Using this format, the teams would still qualify for the playoffs based on their win loss records over the entire season, but the seedings of those division champions and wildcard teams would be determined by their win loss records during their final five games, their “Money Games.”
If two teams are tied with the same number of wins over those five games then the team with a better overall record would, of course, be the higher seed. This means teams have already clinched division titles still have something to play for and cannot euphemistically “rest their players.”
It also means wildcard teams can still gain home field advantage for some or all of their playoff games, and some division winners may not have a home game.
But most importantly it means fans will see real football games at the end of the regular season, not overpriced matchups that are nothing more than glorified scrimmages.