Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season got underway Thursday, with the Carolina Panthers easily defeating the Houston Texans in a less than thrilling matchup. That said, the biggest news of the evening, outside of the cries from the fantasy community when Christian McCaffrey went down with a hamstring injury, were the reports that the NFL could be looking to change the way it schedules games during the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
Friday morning those reports were confirmed.
Monday Night Football is coming to the playoffs pic.twitter.com/lWpBXorWzo— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) September 24, 2021
Now, that’s obviously a whole wall of text that many fans may not want to read, so here it is broken down into simple terms from Field Yates of ESPN.
Official 2021-2022 NFL Super Wild Card weekend schedule:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 24, 2021
Saturday, January 15th:
Game 1: 4:35 PM ET
Game 2: 8:15 PM ET
Sunday, January 16th:
Game 1: 1:05 PM ET
Game 2: 4:40 PM ET
Game 3: 8:15 PM ET
Monday, January 17th:
Game 1: 8:15 PM ET
So, basically, instead of three Saturday games and three Sunday games, the league will now hold a pair of Saturday games, continue with the full slate of three Sunday games and then have a Monday Night Football finale.
There will certainly be a lot of fans who complain about competitive balance and the lack of rest, but the simple fact is that the playoff seeding was already heavily tilted in favor of the top seed in each conference. And for the Seattle Seahawks, in the past four years they’ve managed to advance past the Wild Card once, so any short rest issues really don’t matter for a team that can’t beat the Dallas Cowboys or Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card round. Even when Seahawks were able to defeat a depleted Philadelphia Eagles roster in the Wild Card round in 2019, they promptly surrendered a 21-3 halftime lead to the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round that doomed their chances of advancing further.
As a very rough cut ignoring team strength, if we assume home win% is 57% and the bye week advantage is an extra 3%, then chances of #2 seed making conference championship game:— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) February 20, 2020
--> Old system: 60%
--> New system: .57*.57 = 32%
So the #1 seed is a huge beneficiary of new format
Basically, if teams want the best shot at making the Super Bowl, they need to perform in the regular season, which is something that has held true for the Seattle Seahawks during the entirety of their franchise history. During seasons in which the Hawks have finished as the top seed in the conference and held home field advantage throughout the playoffs (2005, 2013 and 2014), they have advanced to the Super Bowl. In every single season in which they have failed to secure the top seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, they have not made it to the Super Bowl.
So, fans won’t like it, but recent history shows that the top seed in each conference is by far the most likely team to make it to the Super Bowl. Further, this change brings extra money in for both the players and owners, and at the end of the day the NFL is a business that is designed to make money by providing entertainment. It’s not that complicated.