It’s inevitable that once we enter the last month of the NFL regular season, and a majority of teams are either mathematically or realistically eliminated from playoff contention, talk for fans will drift to subjects other than their losing team. Unless, of course, that talk includes such things as firing the head coach or general manager, dumping the starting quarterback, or a myriad of other things.
It used to be that chatter about expanding the season, cutting preseason games, adding new teams in Los Angeles or London, etc. were reserved for the duldrum days of the offseason, but no more. I turned on NFL Radio on SiriusXM the other day, and plenty of non-season related talk was happening. Besides those items, my biggest issue with the NFL is how the division are aligned.
Based on mulitple re-shufflings since the AFL-NFL merger, the attempts at maintaing old rivalries while making some sort of geographic sense have created nothing short of a confusing mess. Buffalo and Miami in the same divison? Dallas in the East? Assuming the NFL doesn’t add any new teams, the four-team per division and two conference format isn’t going away. Adding new teams will throw the balance off and call for a complete overhaul. 32 teams divide nicely, add L.A. and London and you’re dealing with odd numbers. To balance that out, it would require adding four teams, and quite frankly, the talent pool is diluted enough at this point. I can’t imagine what four more teams would do to the quality of play.
That said, here’s my concept for a realigned NFL based on geography:
#1. Buffalo, New England, New York (Jets), New York (Giants)
#2. Cincinnati, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
#3. Atlanta, Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa Bay
#4. Baltimore, Carolina, Tennessee, Washington
#5. Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota
#6. Indianapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis, New Orleans
#7. Arizona, Dallas, Denver, Houston
#8. Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle
Is it perfect? No. Adding the L.A. team would move Seattle out, and London throws everything out of wack.