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Cheifs Chatter

NFL math may have new look


by CK Rairden
Landmark columnist

Here is the first look inside the “new” NFL math. First you take 15 games scheduled for week 2, subtract them and then add those 15 games onto the schedule during week 18.

Next you take the 4 wild card games scheduled for that weekend and subtract them, leaving 4 cities, 4 teams and 4 teams’ fans out in the cold.

A quick synopsis—you now have only two rounds of the playoffs before the Super Bowl, only 6 playoff games before the Super Bowl, and only 8 teams in the playoffs.

What does this complicated equation equal?

• • •

The NFL with $50-60 million less in their collective pockets. If the league doesn’t provide the wild card games, they will need to refund some cash to the networks.

And it gets worse.

A bunch of meaningless games will be played out in December and January for a lot of teams. TV ratings will shrink, stadiums will sit half empty at several venues and the sports interest in those towns will turn to—how’s Michael Jordan doing in his comeback attempt.

Each season, the NFL seems to get what it says that it wants—parity. With 12 teams playing to get in the playoffs the possibilities sometimes seem endless. The last three to four weeks of each season, amateur mathematicians begin crunching numbers trying to figure which team needs to win, lose or tie that will assist their teams playoff chances.

They follow schedules ahead through the final month of the season, watching teams they usually don’t watch. They cheer for whichever team can help their team’s chances of a wild-card spot.

That’s the old NFL math.

• • •

If you purge 4 teams from the playoff tournament, you reduce your playoff options by 25%. That’s huge! Some NFL teams’ fans will know by early December that they won’t have a shot at this year’s playoff tournament.

Most of the time with the 12-team entries any team near the .500 mark has a mathematical shot at the playoffs down to the last weekend. That makes nearly every game important to someone and gets the NFL exactly what it wants—late season interest in a ton of games.

• • •

The NFL does realize this and owners such as the Chiefs’ Lamar Hunt are pressing hard for the NFL to do whatever it can to keep the playoffs at 12 teams and 10 games before the Super Bowl.

The NFL is frantically searching for a formula and a way to keep these games. Right now, the Super Bowl is scheduled for January 27,2002 in New Orleans.

The popular scenarios—
1) Move the super Bowl back a week (Feb.3, 2002) and keep it in New Orleans.

No go—An auto convention has the next weekend booked and can’t move.

2) Move the Super Bowl back two weeks, (Feb.10, 2001) leaving the dreaded two week gap between the AFC/NFC championship games and the Super Bowl.

Highly unlikely. That week is the height of Mardi Gras.

3) Several different plans that have teams playing 2 games in one week, or 3 games in 8 days.

Again highly unlikely. Too much to ask of teams.

My solution—
4) Move the Super Bowl to another city.

The best solution. Not sure if it’s feasible or what kind of legal issues it would raise with the city of New Orleans. They would have to be appeased in some way. Something must be done or December and January will be a long, boring month for many NFL cities, and the NFL will be a lot lighter in the wallet.