As promised, here is first part of my proposal for improving the NFL. Before presenting a solution to a problem, one should state the problem that is to be solved. One of the problems with the NFL, in my opinion, is that it has too many small divisions. While the other major professional leagues have small divisions (NHL and NBA with six five-team divisions and MLB's AL West with only four teams), the NFL takes the cake with eight four-team divisions. Of course, the reason for this is to have as many teams as possible that can call themselves champions. If two wild card teams win the conference championship games, there would be 10 different division and conference champions. That would be over 30% of the 32 teams. That is almost one third of the teams in the league calling themselves champions of this or that.
Unfortunately, this arrangement frequently results in champions that barely have a winning record. This season, all eight division champions managed double-digit wins. However, that is not always the case. In 2004 and 2006, Seattle won the NFC West with 9-7 records, and in 2007, Tampa Bay won the NFC South also with a 9-7 record. Last season, Arizona won the NFC West at 9-7, and San Diego won the AFC West with a .500 record (8-8). Granted, the Cardinals did get hot in the playoffs and made it to Super Bowl XLIII.
Now that the problem has been defined, it is time to move on to the proposed solution which starts with...
1. Eliminating the Conferences
The first part of my proposal is the elimination of the National and American Football Conferences. I know many people will cry foul over this step due to the historical significance of maintaining separate conferences. However, the NFL-AFL merger was over 40 years ago. I think enough time as passed for the league to move forward with integrating the two conferences. (Take a hint Major League Baseball).
To me, the simplest way to handle this consolation is to simply merge the matching directional divisions into four eight-team divisions as shown below.
|West Division||North Division||South Division||East Division|
Of course, this change would be a great opportunity to realign the divisions. Also, the possible relocation of a team (say to Los Angeles) would have an affect on the divisional alignment. I will cover those topics in my next post. I promise that those suggestions will be minor compared to the elimination of the conferences. Also in future posts, I will expand on how my primary suggestion would be implemented including how the regular season schedule, playoffs, and Pro Bowl would all work.