Ideal NFL Alignment

BaseballJones

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Oct 1, 2015
8,765
32 teams, 8 divisions, 4 teams per division. We can take rivalries into account, because that stuff does matter, but what's the ideal NFL divisional alignment? We can have teams switch conferences if necessary.

AFC East
New England
NY Jets
Buffalo
Baltimore

AFC South
Jacksonville
Tampa Bay
Atlanta
Miami

AFC North
Pittsburgh
Cleveland
Cincinnati
Indianapolis

AFC West
LA Chargers
Denver
Las Vegas
Kansas City

NFC East
Philadelphia
NY Giants
Washington
Carolina

NFC South
New Orleans
Houston
Dallas
Tennessee

NFC North
Minnesota
Chicago
Detroit
Green Bay

NFC West
LA Rams
Seattle
San Francisco
Arizona

So...
Miami moves from the AFC East --> AFC South
Baltimore moves from the AFC North --> AFC East
Indianapolis moves from the AFC South --> AFC North
Carolina moves from the NFC South --> NFC East
Dallas moves from the NFC East --> NFC South
Tennessee moves from the AFC South --> NFC South
Houston moves from the AFC South --> NFC South
Atlanta moves from the NFC South --> AFC South
Tampa Bay moves from the NFC South --> AFC South

Seven teams have to move and this is WAY more geographically correct. I get that rivalries matter, but it's crazy to have the Cowboys in the "East" while Kansas City - which is 100+ miles east of Dallas, is in the "West". It was worse when the Rams were in St. Louis, which is about 300 miles east of Dallas, but was in the "West" while Dallas was in the "East".

I get that for Baltimore, it would remove them from the Steelers' division, but man a Ravens-Patriots in-division rivalry would be serious HEAT.

The AFC South is much better geographically, with three Florida teams plus Atlanta. The NFC South is also geographically ideal, with Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Tennessee all grouped together. The AFC North, likewise, is in very good geographical shape, with Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis.

It would make sense to have the Giants in the AFC East and have the Jets, Giants, Bills, and Patriots be the true northeast division, but for rivalry and history's sake, I wanted to keep the Jets and Giants separate. Plus it's good to have them in different conferences, even though they share a building. Same philosophy with the Rams and Chargers. Though it would make more geographical sense to have NYJ, NYG, Buf, and NE in a division, and move Baltimore to the NFC East, along with Carolina, Washington, and Philly. Oh well.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
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Jul 15, 2005
24,238
Hingham, MA
Naw, put the Giants in the AFC East, then re-name the NFC East to the NFC mid-Atlantic - Philly, Baltimore, Carolina, Washington.

Edit: then we can put the 2 LA teams + SF and Seattle in the NFC West, and re-name the AFC Mountain West division, with Arizona, KC, Denver, and Vegas. Boom.
 

TSC

SoSH's Doug Neidermeyer
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Oct 25, 2007
9,588
Between here and everywhere.
Naw, put the Giants in the AFC East, then re-name the NFC East to the NFC mid-Atlantic - Philly, Baltimore, Carolina, Washington.

Edit: then we can put the 2 LA teams + SF and Seattle in the NFC West, and re-name the AFC Mountain West division, with Arizona, KC, Denver, and Vegas. Boom.
I doubt the NFL wants all 3 New York teams (Jets, Giants, Bills) in the AFC.
 

richgedman'sghost

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May 13, 2006
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32 teams, 8 divisions, 4 teams per division. We can take rivalries into account, because that stuff does matter, but what's the ideal NFL divisional alignment? We can have teams switch conferences if necessary.

AFC East
New England
NY Jets
Buffalo
Baltimore

AFC South
Jacksonville
Tampa Bay
Atlanta
Miami

AFC North
Pittsburgh
Cleveland
Cincinnati
Indianapolis

AFC West
LA Chargers
Denver
Las Vegas
Kansas City

NFC East
Philadelphia
NY Giants
Washington
Carolina

NFC South
New Orleans
Houston
Dallas
Tennessee

NFC North
Minnesota
Chicago
Detroit
Green Bay

NFC West
LA Rams
Seattle
San Francisco
Arizona

So...
Miami moves from the AFC East --> AFC South
Baltimore moves from the AFC North --> AFC East
Indianapolis moves from the AFC South --> AFC North
Carolina moves from the NFC South --> NFC East
Dallas moves from the NFC East --> NFC South
Tennessee moves from the AFC South --> NFC South
Houston moves from the AFC South --> NFC South
Atlanta moves from the NFC South --> AFC South
Tampa Bay moves from the NFC South --> AFC South

Seven teams have to move and this is WAY more geographically correct. I get that rivalries matter, but it's crazy to have the Cowboys in the "East" while Kansas City - which is 100+ miles east of Dallas, is in the "West". It was worse when the Rams were in St. Louis, which is about 300 miles east of Dallas, but was in the "West" while Dallas was in the "East".

I get that for Baltimore, it would remove them from the Steelers' division, but man a Ravens-Patriots in-division rivalry would be serious HEAT.

The AFC South is much better geographically, with three Florida teams plus Atlanta. The NFC South is also geographically ideal, with Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Tennessee all grouped together. The AFC North, likewise, is in very good geographical shape, with Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis.

It would make sense to have the Giants in the AFC East and have the Jets, Giants, Bills, and Patriots be the true northeast division, but for rivalry and history's sake, I wanted to keep the Jets and Giants separate. Plus it's good to have them in different conferences, even though they share a building. Same philosophy with the Rams and Chargers. Though it would make more geographical sense to have NYJ, NYG, Buf, and NE in a division, and move Baltimore to the NFC East, along with Carolina, Washington, and Philly. Oh well.
Why do all the divisions in the NFL have to be geographically correct? I understand that in baseball basketball and hockey it makes sense travel wise to be more geographically correct but football teams travel just once a week. Secondarily there is no freaking way that Dallas is leaving the NFC East or Baltimore the AFC Central. Too much money and traditional rivaleries at stake. Why change a good thing?
 

Preacher

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Jun 9, 2006
2,557
Harker Heights, TX
Why do all the divisions in the NFL have to be geographically correct? I understand that in baseball basketball and hockey it makes sense travel wise to be more geographically correct but football teams travel just once a week. Secondarily there is no freaking way that Dallas is leaving the NFC East or Baltimore the AFC Central. Too much money and traditional rivaleries at stake. Why change a good thing?
Baltimore already left the AFC Central.
 

RedOctober3829

Member
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Jul 19, 2005
44,312
deep inside Guido territory
AFC East
New England
NY Jets
Buffalo
Philadelphia

AFC South
Jacksonville
Tampa Bay
Atlanta
Miami

AFC North
Pittsburgh
Cleveland
Cincinnati
Indianapolis

AFC West
LA Chargers
Denver
Las Vegas
Dallas

NFC East
Baltimore
NY Giants
Washington
Carolina

NFC South
New Orleans
Houston
Kansas City
Tennessee

NFC North
Minnesota
Chicago
Detroit
Green Bay

NFC West
LA Rams
Seattle
San Francisco
Arizona
 

luckiestman

Son of the Harpy
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
16,393
I like Philly in the AFC East. I would put Buffalo in the North.

a nice AFC north might be

Buffalo
Cleveland
Pittsburgh
Detroit

Grab a map, that’s a fun little regional group.
 

Rudy's Curve

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Jul 4, 2006
1,753
If you wanted to just completely regionalize things as much as possible, this is probably what it would look like:

Eastern Conference
NE/NYJ/NYG/PHI
BUF/CLE/PIT/DET
BAL/WAS/CAR/CIN
ATL/TB/MIA/JAC

Western Conference
IND/CHI/GB/MIN
TEN/NO/DAL/HOU
KC/DEN/ARI/LV
LAR/LAC/SF/SEA

Cincinnati and Indianapolis are only 112 miles apart but it's tough to find a way to put them together and the line has to be drawn for conferences somewhere.
 
Last edited:

E5 Yaz

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Apr 25, 2002
64,345
Oregon
Buffalo
Cleveland
Pittsburgh
Detroit

Grab a map, that’s a fun little regional group.
Of all these hypothetical divisions, this is the one that would be worth the price of admission. After a few years to get used to it, this would see some serious pounding
 

RetractableRoof

tolerates intolerance
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Quincy, MA
If one takes rivalries into account, I'm not sure how Dallas is removed from the Redskins/Giants/Eagles. When the teams are all playing well, there is a fabulous amount of destruction in that division. That said, I can't improve on some of the other ideas... fun thread.
 

Rudy's Curve

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Jul 4, 2006
1,753
It's got great, historic rivalries, and it makes total sense geographically. There is simply no reason to mess with it.
Indianapolis is closer to the rest of them than Detroit and Detroit fits in perfectly geographically with BUF/CLE/PIT. I'm not saying I'd do it, but it's a better fit geographically.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,765
Indianapolis is closer to the rest of them than Detroit and Detroit fits in perfectly geographically with BUF/CLE/PIT. I'm not saying I'd do it, but it's a better fit geographically.
Right but if you can have great geographic alignment while maintaining historic rivalries, you do it.
 

Rudy's Curve

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Jul 4, 2006
1,753
Right but if you can have great geographic alignment while maintaining historic rivalries, you do it.
I wouldn't call the geography great though. It's not Dallas in the East (and I'm not a fan of moving the Cowboys), but it's still a four-hour drive to the closest city in Chicago (obviously the team would fly, but I figured fans are taken into consideration). And as mentioned by a few people, it would allow for a DET/CLE/BUF/PIT division which is very convenient.

Edit: I think the current alignment is fine. Obviously there are some geographic oddities, but they're heavily mitigated by football being a weekly sport. Having Carolina and Atlanta in the West and Arizona in the East under the old format was a problem - this isn't bad at all.
 
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snowmanny

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Dec 8, 2005
11,184
It's got great, historic rivalries, and it makes total sense geographically. There is simply no reason to mess with it.
I’d rather throw the Lions and Vikings in with the Colts in a dome division with maybe the Bengals and have a Steelers, Packers, Bears, Browns division.
 

Ale Xander

Lacks black ink
SoSH Member
Oct 31, 2013
28,601
AFC East
New England
Buffalo
Jets
Indy

AFC South
Miami
Jacksonville
Cincinnati
Tennessee

AFC Central
Baltimore
Pittsburgh
Cleveland
Houston (more competition for Pitt+Bal)

AFC West
Vegas
Chargers of Southern Cal
Denver
Rams (switch leagues with KC)

---
NFC East
Giants
Philly
Cardinals (move to Toronto)
DC

NFC South
Tampa Bay
Carolina
Atlanta
New Orleans

NFC Northwest
Seattle
San Francisco
Minnesota
Green Bay

NFC Central
Chicago
Detroit
KC (switch leagues with Rams)
Dallas
 

Saints Rest

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
As long as we are indulging in silly fantasy, how about some thematic divisions:

No Place Like Dome:
Atlanta
Arizona
New Orleans
Detroit

Holy Shit It's Cold:
Minnesota
Green Bay
Chicago
Denver

Holy Shit It's Hot:
Jax
Miami
Tampa
Las Vegas

Pacific Coast:
LA Rams
LA Chargers
San Fran
Seattle

Northeast Liberals:
New England
NY Jets
NY Giants
Philadelphia

Rust Belt:
Buffalo
Pittsburgh
Cleveland
Cincinnati

Carpet Bagger Wars:
Baltimore
Indy
Houston
Tennessee

Asshole Owners:
Dallas
Washington
Carolina
Kansas City
 

richgedman'sghost

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ct
As long as we are indulging in silly fantasy, how about some thematic divisions:

No Place Like Dome:
Atlanta
Arizona
New Orleans
Detroit

Holy Shit It's Cold:
Minnesota
Green Bay
Chicago
Denver

Holy Shit It's Hot:
Jax
Miami
Tampa
Las Vegas

Pacific Coast:
LA Rams
LA Chargers
San Fran
Seattle

Northeast Liberals:
New England
NY Jets
NY Giants
Philadelphia

Rust Belt:
Buffalo
Pittsburgh
Cleveland
Cincinnati

Carpet Bagger Wars:
Baltimore
Indy
Houston
Tennessee

Asshole Owners:
Dallas
Washington
Carolina
Kansas City
Is the Carolina Panthers new owner an asshole? I definitely agree that the old owner Jerry Richardson was a Hall of Fame Asshole but what has the new owner done to deserve the label? @SaintsRest
 

Saints Rest

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Lifetime Member
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To be honest, that last division was tough. I had Dallas, Washington, Seattle and Carolina left over. Snyder and Jones are assholes, so I started with that idea. Then I had to start shifting some oddballs around to make it fit. It wasn’t perfect, but what is?!
 

Old Fart Tree

the maven of meat
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Jan 10, 2001
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The Yay Area
As long as we are indulging in silly fantasy, how about some thematic divisions:

No Place Like Dome:
Atlanta
Arizona
New Orleans
Detroit

Holy Shit It's Cold:
Minnesota
Green Bay
Chicago
Denver

Holy Shit It's Hot:
Jax
Miami
Tampa
Las Vegas

Pacific Coast:
LA Rams
LA Chargers
San Fran
Seattle

Northeast Liberals:
New England
NY Jets
NY Giants
Philadelphia

Rust Belt:
Buffalo
Pittsburgh
Cleveland
Cincinnati

Carpet Bagger Wars:
Baltimore
Indy
Houston
Tennessee

Asshole Owners:
Dallas
Washington
Carolina
Kansas City
This is delightful.
 

swiftaw

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 31, 2009
2,106
The one thing I have wanted for years is to remove the AFC/NFC split in the playoffs. Just have the 8 division winners and n wild card teams, seeded from top to bottom. This allows for the potential for any 2 teams to meet in the Super Bowl.
 

Was (Not Wasdin)

family crest has godzilla
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Jul 26, 2007
2,285
The Short Bus
The one thing I have wanted for years is to remove the AFC/NFC split in the playoffs. Just have the 8 division winners and n wild card teams, seeded from top to bottom. This allows for the potential for any 2 teams to meet in the Super Bowl.
The NHL did this for a couple of years in the early 80s. IIRC, they reseeded after each round too.
 

BusRaker

lurker
Aug 11, 2006
786
Gonna separate the Pacific Coast from the western inland teams, get the tornado and Mason-Dixon teams together. Could possibly switch Philly and NY Giants to get true geo-spatial proximity

AFC Nor-Easters
New England
NY Jets
Buffalo
Philadelphia

AFC Gulf
Jacksonville
Tampa Bay
Atlanta
Miami

AFC Tornado
Pittsburgh
Cleveland
Cincinnati
Indianapolis

AFC Not so West
Arizona
Denver
Las Vegas
Kansas City

NFC Mason-Dixon
Baltimore
NY Giants
Washington
Carolina

NFC Miss. Rivers
New Orleans
Houston
Dallas
Tennessee

NFC Frost
Minnesota
Chicago
Detroit
Green Bay

NFC Left Coast
LA Rams
Seattle
San Francisco
LA Chargers
 

bakahump

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Jan 8, 2001
6,474
Maine
So this got me thinking about the distances between teams. Pretty obvious when you think about it but I thought it was interesting.

This is DRIVE MILES (so there is some discrepancy there I know teams would fly.....but in the AFC North...they could bus!) Specifically around lake Michigan and from NO-TB driving around the water adds to the travel. But it gives you an idea of travel miles teams have intra division.

Who would have thought the AFC east would have the 2nd most travel miles. (thanks Miami) More then the NFC west.
Again NFC North is probably closer to the AFC North but due to Det/chi around the lake to GB and Minne the mileage add is significant.
AFC west is skewed due to LA. Miles get long out west.
NFC east actually isnt too bad no thanks to dallas and thanks to the I95 Corridor.
NFC South gets dinged by Tampa being down the peninsula, and NO being a bit of an outlier.


Clev-Pitt 134
Cinn-Pitt 288
CLev- Cinn 250
Bal-Pitt 248
Bal Clev 376
Bal Cinn 507
1803


Buff-NE 457
Buff- NY 373
NE-NY 204
NE-Miami 1478
Buff- Miami 1384
NY-Miami 1279
5175

Houston Indy 1014
Houston Jack 870
Houston Nash 779
Nash Indy 288
Nash Jack 596
Jack Indy 878
4425


Denver KC 603
Denver LVR 748
Denver LACharg 1016
LA KC 1618
LA LVR 271
LVR KC 1351
5607


Dallas NY 1548
Dalls Philly 1467
Dalls Wash 1328
NYG Philly 94
NYG Wash 227
Philly Wash 140
4804


Chi Det 281
Chi GB 206
Chi Minne 409
Det GB 487
Det Minne 690
GB Minne 278
2351


Atlanta Carolina 245
Atlanta NO 470
Atanta TB 456
Caro NO 715
Caro TB 579
NO TB 657
3122

Ari LAR 372
ARI SF 753
ARI Sea 1415
LAR SF 382
LAR Sea 1135
SF Sea 808
4865
 

m0ckduck

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
903
To be honest, that last division was tough. I had Dallas, Washington, Seattle and Carolina left over. Snyder and Jones are assholes, so I started with that idea. Then I had to start shifting some oddballs around to make it fit. It wasn’t perfect, but what is?!
Isn’t Carolina just as carpet-baggy as Houston? And Houston’s owner a confirmed prick? How about swapping those two before we make it official.
 

Zososoxfan

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Jul 30, 2009
6,034
South of North
Awesome topic and another round of applause for @Saints Rest . With all the proposals, I really like the Dallas/NO/Houston/TN (Oil-Gumbo-and...Dallas Division) and the geographically true Florida+Dirty Birds division (Miami/TB/Jax/ATL). The realignment of the Rust Belt Divisions (i.e. AFC/NFC North) would also be cool and you just know that Pitt would of course be the big beneficiary (fucking Rooneys). The 8 most Western franchises are always gonna be a PITA for KC. Break up the LA teams and you get SEA/SF/LV/LAR and LAC/AZ/Den/KC. I wouldn't mind a division with the Iggles and while I do love geographic accuracy, I think putting the NYG and NYJ together would grate for them AND their division mates.
 

Patek's 3 Dingers

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Jul 5, 2018
430
The price of jet fuel has decreased from $650 per metric ton to $200. I would start with LAC, Seattle, NE and Miami and go from there.
 

FanRoy

lurker
Aug 14, 2008
28
Orlando, FL
I'm bored, so I made a map.

East:
NE/NYJ/NYG/BU
PHI/BAL/WAS/PIT
CAR/CLE/CIN/IND
MIA/TB/JAC/ATL

West:
DAL/HOU/NO/TEN
MIN/GB/CHI/DET
SEA/LV/DEN/KC
SF/LAR/LAC/ARI
 

Oppo

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Apr 5, 2009
1,428
Orlando
I’ll throw out a radical realignment and going with the thought process that the travel problem is overrated when you’re talking about elite athletes and charter flights.

Realignment every 2 years based on draft order, starting with the best teams so the best and 4th best are together while the 2nd/3rd best are together. So split the 2 conferences as follows (number is reverse draft order so 1= best team, 32 = worst):
1,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20,22,24,26,28,30,32 and
2,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17,19,21,23,25,27,29,31

Since realignment will be every 2 years, everyone plays each team in their conference home and home (ie home year 1, road year 2) for 15 games. In the middle of the season you play home and home against the similarly ranked team in the other conference (so 1 and 2 play home and home, 3 and 4 play, etc).

Also, eliminate Thursday night, add Monday night triple headers every week, and Sunday night gets 2 games.
 

j-man

Member
Dec 19, 2012
1,782
Arkansas
32 teams, 8 divisions, 4 teams per division. We can take rivalries into account, because that stuff does matter, but what's the ideal NFL divisional alignment? We can have teams switch conferences if necessary.

AFC East
New England
NY Jets
Buffalo
Baltimore

AFC South
Jacksonville
Tampa Bay
Atlanta
Miami

AFC North
Pittsburgh
Cleveland
Cincinnati
Indianapolis

AFC West
LA Chargers
Denver
Las Vegas
Kansas City

NFC East
Philadelphia
NY Giants
Washington
Carolina

NFC South
New Orleans
Houston
Dallas
Tennessee

NFC North
Minnesota
Chicago
Detroit
Green Bay

NFC West
LA Rams
Seattle
San Francisco
Arizona

So...
Miami moves from the AFC East --> AFC South
Baltimore moves from the AFC North --> AFC East
Indianapolis moves from the AFC South --> AFC North
Carolina moves from the NFC South --> NFC East
Dallas moves from the NFC East --> NFC South
Tennessee moves from the AFC South --> NFC South
Houston moves from the AFC South --> NFC South
Atlanta moves from the NFC South --> AFC South
Tampa Bay moves from the NFC South --> AFC South

Seven teams have to move and this is WAY more geographically correct. I get that rivalries matter, but it's crazy to have the Cowboys in the "East" while Kansas City - which is 100+ miles east of Dallas, is in the "West". It was worse when the Rams were in St. Louis, which is about 300 miles east of Dallas, but was in the "West" while Dallas was in the "East".

I get that for Baltimore, it would remove them from the Steelers' division, but man a Ravens-Patriots in-division rivalry would be serious HEAT.

The AFC South is much better geographically, with three Florida teams plus Atlanta. The NFC South is also geographically ideal, with Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Tennessee all grouped together. The AFC North, likewise, is in very good geographical shape, with Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis.

It would make sense to have the Giants in the AFC East and have the Jets, Giants, Bills, and Patriots be the true northeast division, but for rivalry and history's sake, I wanted to keep the Jets and Giants separate. Plus it's good to have them in different conferences, even though they share a building. Same philosophy with the Rams and Chargers. Though it would make more geographical sense to have NYJ, NYG, Buf, and NE in a division, and move Baltimore to the NFC East, along with Carolina, Washington, and Philly. Oh well.
nice post

i wouild do this

AFC East NE Buff Jets indy
North stays as is
South MIA KC JAX TB
WEST DEN ZONA LV HOU

NFC East Stays the same North too
NFC South CAR NO ATL TENN
NFC West LAC LAR SF SEA
 

j-man

Member
Dec 19, 2012
1,782
Arkansas
As long as we are indulging in silly fantasy, how about some thematic divisions:

No Place Like Dome:
Atlanta
Arizona
New Orleans
Detroit

Holy Shit It's Cold:
Minnesota
Green Bay
Chicago
Denver

Holy Shit It's Hot:
Jax
Miami
Tampa
Las Vegas

Pacific Coast:
LA Rams
LA Chargers
San Fran
Seattle

Northeast Liberals:
New England
NY Jets
NY Giants
Philadelphia

Rust Belt:
Buffalo
Pittsburgh
Cleveland
Cincinnati

Carpet Bagger Wars:
Baltimore
Indy
Houston
Tennessee

Asshole Owners:
Dallas
Washington
Carolina
Kansas City
i love that division sign me up
 

mauf

Anderson Cooper × Mr. Rogers
Staff member
Dope
Kansas City and Denver don’t have any natural geographic rivals besides each other, and there are only six teams west of the Rockies. Makes sense to keep them with the Raiders and Chargers — all those teams have been rivals since AFL days. And speaking of old rivalries, you’re never getting Dallas out of the NFCE.

The southern divisions in both conferences have little history. It would make sense to put ATL and the three Florida teams in one southern division and HOU, NO, TEN, and CAR in the other, with non-southern Indianapolis returning to the AFCE in place of the Dolphins. But otherwise I wouldn’t change anything.

Edit: Actually, simply switching JAX and NO would create much more rational divisions — ATL/CAR/TB/JAX is a geographically compact division, and NO-HOU is a logical rivalry.
 
Last edited:

NoXInNixon

Member
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Mar 24, 2008
4,315
Expand to 34 teams. Introduce relegation. The best 17 teams go into the upper division, and the other 15 plus expansions go into the lower.

Every team in each division plays every other team once. Top ten of the upper division make the playoffs. #11 misses the playoffs but stays in the upper division. The bottom 6 play relegation games, 12 vs 17, 13 vs 16 and 14 vs 15.

In the lower division, 12 teams make the promotion playoffs in pods of 4, seeded as follows.

1-6-7-12
2-5-8-11
3-4-9-10

Week one of the playoffs has two upper division playoff games, 7 vs 10 and 8 vs 9 plus the six first round lower division games. Three on Saturday three on Sunday and two on Monday.

Week two you have the four upper division playoff games plus the three upper division relegation games. 3-3-1

Week three is the upper division final four plus the three lower division promotion games.

Then a bye week followed by the Super Bowl.

We get a much more exciting regular season with more games between the best teams. We get a total of 21 playoff/promotion/relegation games and they will tend to be more evenly matched than the ones we get now. Also, a total of 9 of the games will be between teams that are both coming off a bye week, which should lead to higher quality games.
 
Expand to 34 teams. Introduce relegation. The best 17 teams go into the upper division, and the other 15 plus expansions go into the lower.

Every team in each division plays every other team once. Top ten of the upper division make the playoffs. #11 misses the playoffs but stays in the upper division. The bottom 6 play relegation games, 12 vs 17, 13 vs 16 and 14 vs 15.

In the lower division, 12 teams make the promotion playoffs in pods of 4, seeded as follows.

1-6-7-12
2-5-8-11
3-4-9-10

Week one of the playoffs has two upper division playoff games, 7 vs 10 and 8 vs 9 plus the six first round lower division games. Three on Saturday three on Sunday and two on Monday.

Week two you have the four upper division playoff games plus the three upper division relegation games. 3-3-1

Week three is the upper division final four plus the three lower division promotion games.

Then a bye week followed by the Super Bowl.

We get a much more exciting regular season with more games between the best teams. We get a total of 21 playoff/promotion/relegation games and they will tend to be more evenly matched than the ones we get now. Also, a total of 9 of the games will be between teams that are both coming off a bye week, which should lead to higher quality games.
An interesting thought experiment...which of course has no chance in hell of happening, but still fun to think about. Mind you, in the County Championship in English cricket, what had been an 18-team league was divided before the start of the 2000 season into two self-contained divisions of 9 teams each, with 3 teams promoted and 3 teams relegated in each season (reduced to 2 up and 2 down starting in 2006). So there is some international sporting precedent for what you've proposed, although in the case of English cricket, there was a clear rationale for this happening - the English national team wanted their top players to be tested more at the highest level domestically, to better prepare them for international test cricket - that I don't see with the NFL.

A few obvious quibbles with your proposal:

1) Having an odd numbers of teams in each division means a team has to have a bye every week (including the first and last week of the season). You might as well expand by four teams, go 18 + 18 and have a 17-game regular season, which is what the owners want anyway. Or possibly even keep it at 32 teams and have 15-game regular seasons in each division, or designate one "rivalry" (MLB-style) within each division that becomes a home-and-home matchup in that season.

2) Having 10 teams in the playoffs in a 17-team or 18-team league means you're almost guaranteed to have teams with 7-9 or even 6-10 records in the postseason. (Or 8-9, 7-10 or even 6-11 in an 18-team league with a 17-game season.) Which doesn't seem ideal.

I assume you're suggesting that three teams would be promoted and three others relegated in each season - is that enough? I'd have thought at least four and possibly as many as six teams could be promoted and relegated to keep things fresh. I'd also give automatic promotion and berths in the top-division playoffs (i.e., a chance of winning the Super Bowl) to the two best teams in the lower division, and automatic relegation to the two worst teams in the top division, with the promotion/relegation playoffs mainly consisting of games between teams in opposite divisions. So the playoffs might look something like this ("A1" = team with the best record in the top division, "B1" = best record in the bottom division, etc., with A17/A18 already having been relegated):

--Week 1 Super Bowl bracket: A10 @ B1, A9 @ B2 (losers out of playoffs but will be in the top division next season)
--Week 2 Super Bowl bracket: B2/A9/A10 @ A1, B1/B2/A9 @ A2, A6 @ A3, A5 @ A4
(then Week 3 is the semifinals, and Week 5 after the bye is the Super Bowl)

--Week 1 Promotion/Relegation bracket: A15 @ B8, A16 @ B7
--Week 2 Promotion/Relegation bracket: B8/A15/A16 @ B3, B7/B8/A15@ B4, A14 @ B5, A13 @ B6
(whoever wins these last four games will be in the top division next season - you could end up with anywhere between 2 and 6 teams promoted, depending upon how many A teams win)
 

OilCanShotTupac

Sunny von Bulow
SoSH Member
Jan 10, 2004
18,732
The 718
This post made me drool. God, this is it. Promotion/Relegation would be so amazing in the NFL.
Don't we have it functionally in college sports?

Schools in basketball and football that do well in crappy conferences get good TV slots and good bowls, and maybe invites to better conferences - off the top of my head, Boise and TCU in football, Gonzaga in basketball - but even moving conferences is not necessary. Gonzaga, by virtue of good TV spots, is essentially in the top tier of college basketball. Conversely, teams that suck just drift to the bottom - Rice football, Kansas football, Rutgers, UConn etc.

Not always in terms of formal conference realignment, that tends to be done with an eye toward media markets, but it more or less happens by what the advertisers dictate, I think.
 

Super Nomario

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 5, 2000
12,753
Mansfield MA
Don't we have it functionally in college sports?

Schools in basketball and football that do well in crappy conferences get good TV slots and good bowls, and maybe invites to better conferences - off the top of my head, Boise and TCU in football, Gonzaga in basketball - but even moving conferences is not necessary. Gonzaga, by virtue of good TV spots, is essentially in the top tier of college basketball. Conversely, teams that suck just drift to the bottom - Rice football, Kansas football, Rutgers, UConn etc.

Not always in terms of formal conference realignment, that tends to be done with an eye toward media markets, but it more or less happens by what the advertisers dictate, I think.
Hey now!