Monday, June 06, 2011

If relegation worked.... The NFL

Obviously, because of the economics of sports in America, relegation is an impossibility. There is too much money at the top levels. That said, there are some advantages to it, and I thought it might interesting to see how it could work across the various leagues here in the states, starting with the NFL. I will do it like this. provide a few advantages, explain my considerations, describe the league set up, then imagine the league as it would have been if it was like this the past 5 seasons.
Advantages: Teams not as compelled to tank at the end of the season in order to get a top pick. Additional meaningful playoff games for teams that might not have any reason to pay attention in the offseason.
Chance for faltering teams to save payroll (since that is apparently a big deal for owners) by playing in a lower division.
The best 12 teams would get in the playoffs, regardless of division.
Considerations: Maintaining a 16 game schedule
At 32 teams, the NFL could split without having to add new teams
Keeping the Super Bowl
The idea
Split the league into 17 and 15, with each team playing the others once, which means 16 games at the top level, 14 at the bottom. The bottom two teams are relegated, while the lower division champion would be promoted outright, and teams 2-5 compete in a 4 team playoff for the other promotion. The top draft pick will go to the lower division champ, then the other promoted team would pick second.
In order to keep the Super Bowl, the twelve team playoff structure would still be maintained at the end of the season. Top 12 teams in the playoffs. I would prefer it concurrently, so the league championship is paramount importance, but that would be tough. So, here's how it would have worked, starting with the 17 in the top league in 2006, followed by the two relegated and promoted teams (assuming the second place team wins the playoff) Again, 2006 would be based on the 2005 records.
Indianapolis, Seattle, Denver, Jacksonville, Chicago, Tampa, New York Giants, Carolina, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Washington, Kansas City, New England, Minnesota, Miami, Dallas, and San Diego, with the other 15 in the lower division. So, who gets promoted and relegated in 2006 and on? The 4 promoted playoff teams in parenthesees, the first the assumed winner.
Relegated - Tampa, Washington
Promoted - Baltimore (Philadelphia, New Orleans, New York Jets, Green Bay)
Relegated - Miami, Kansas City
Promoted - Green Bay (Tennessee, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Washington)
Relegated - Seattle, Cincinnati
Promoted - Atlanta (Miami, Arizona, Tampa Bay, New York Jets)
Relegated - Jacksonville, Chicago
Promoted - New Orleans (Cincinnati, Arizona, New York Jets, Houston)
Relegated - Carolina, Denver
Promoted - Chicago (New York Jets, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville)

Tampa Bay is always in the news in this format, aren't they?
If my math is right, then we have the following in the top division going into the next hypothetical (in more ways than one) season. Teams in bold remained in their respective division through the past 5 years: New England, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Green Bay, New York Giants, Baltimore, Chicago, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego, Miami, Minnesota, Dallas, Tennesssee and Cincinnati are in the top division, The bottom division constitutes the following teams: Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Oakland, Seattle, St. Louis, Houston, Detroit, Washington, San Francisco, Cleveland, Arizona, Buffalo, Denver and Carolina.

Questions? Comments? Seems like fun to me.

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