Bucs would like better odds of making playoffs

by Gary Shelton on February 24, 2020

in general

Saturday, 4 a.m.

The Tampa Bay Bucs didn't get any closer to the playoffs this weekend.

But they might soon.

I will pause for a minute while you chuckle. Got it out yet. I'll wait another few seconds. Go ahead. Get one lass snicker in.

After all, the playoffs are a land out of reach for the poor Bucs, who haven't been there for a dozen years, back since they had a guest appearance in losing to the Giants. If you're counting, the Bucs haven't won a playoff game for 17 years.

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Think of it. People who have never seen the Bucs win a playoff game can now drive. Soon, they will be able to vote. As for those of us who do remember, well, we're looking forward to today's Early Bird Special.

Ah, but if the NFL approves a new CBA -- and it will eventually -- it seems assured that the league will expand the playoffs by one team in each conference. That would be seven teams per conference -- almost half.

Such a move would increase the odds of the Bucs -- and other playoff outsiders -- of making the post-season. No, not every year, but sometimes. Under that format, the Bucs would have made it twice (in 2008 and 2016) during its current dry spell.

Does it make sense? More games make it logical that there would be more injuries, of course. But if that's the league's concern, then why not peel the season back to 14 games? Or to 12? Wouldn't that reduce the number of collisions?

What else? There are arguments that it would make it tougher for a conference's No. 2 seed, which is true. Those teams will have to play an extra week. But again, if that's the priority, then why not cut the playoffs back to two teams per conference with a one-game play-in for the Super Bowl.

Then there is the sidecar to the playoff discussion. Evidently, the NFL wants a 17-game regular season, which means that half of the teams in the league will have nine home games and the other half eight (or there will be a hat-full of neutral-site games). I get the injury factor. I get those players who are worried that it's a step toward an 18-game season.

But the object here is to maximize the entertainment product, which means to offer more playoff game. That would make for a more interesting December with more teams in the chase.

Hey, the tail end of the playoffs always has some dubious entrants. That's true in any sports, and in any format. Sure, the more teams you let into the party, the weaker the field. With seven teams per conference, the odds of having a .500 team (or less) increases.

But come next January, will you turn on your television and watch? Of course you will.

And isn't that the point?

Even if the Bucs being in the post-season would cause pigs to fly.

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