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How Would a 7 Team Playoff Changed the Last 4 Postseasons?

Written by Ben Riad

2019-2020:

AFC: Ravens, Chiefs, Patriots, Texans, Bills, Titans, Steelers

NFC: 49ers, Packers, Saints, Eagles, Seahawks, Vikings, Rams

Here is the 2019-2020 bracket:

(Photo by Wikipedia)

AFC:

(Photo: arrowheadaddict.com)


Chiefs vs Steelers in Kansas City

The Chiefs and Steelers did not play each other in the regular season, so let's look at common matchups. Here is my prediction: The Chiefs got off to a slow start in their 1st playoff game, but they ended the regular season on a 6 game win streak. Using this momentum, the Chiefs would have made the Steelers look pretty bad. The Steelers defense was solid, but it is so hard to stop Mahomes and crew. The Steelers would have had to keep Mahomes off the field by giving the ball to James Connor, but as we found out later, a good run game is no deterrent to Mahomes. Derrick Henry is a beast and he could not keep Mahomes off the field so I don’t think Connor could have done that. So, I have the Chiefs winning 45-14.

Would this game have long term effects?

I would say no. The Chiefs were a young team and the bye week might have hurt the Chiefs more than helping them. They got off to a really slow start against the Texans, so maybe that slow start doesn’t occur if they played the Steelers.


NFC

(Photo: cheeseheadtv.com)


Packers vs Rams in Green Bay

Now let’s look at the NFC, where the Rams would have played the Packers at Lambeau Field. The Packers and Rams also did not face each other in the regular season, but this would have been an interesting matchup. Jalen Ramsey would be covering Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers’ top receiver, while Aaron Jones would be trying to run against a pretty good defensive line starting with Aaron Donald. The Rams had a disappointing season going 8-8 when they were expected to at least be in the top 6 in the NFC. In their defense, the NFC was loaded this year, but losses to the Bucs by 15 and by 23 to the Cowboys definitely hurt. If the Rams were clicking on all cylinders, I would say they could beat the Packers, but they ended the season 1-2 and had to go to Lambeau field in the winter. That is no easy ask (as a Bears fan I know how hard it is to beat the Packers). I just don’t think the Rams could pull it off. I have the Packers winning 23-17.

Would this game have long term effects?

Green Bay beat the Seahawks and then lost to the 49ers, and I don’t think playing the additional game would have made a difference. The Seahawks are dangerous, but the Packers were more talented and more solid than the Seahawks. The only difference would be that the 49ers would have won by a bigger margin. The Packers could not stop the run if their lives depended on it, and playing Gurley and the Rams would not help. The defense would have been even more tired and it would end worse than it did this year, which is hard to believe.

So a 7th team added to this playoff would not have a huge effect on the overall playoff picture.

2018-2019:

AFC: Chiefs, Patriots, Texans, Ravens, Chargers, Colts, Steelers

NFC: Saints, Rams, Bears, Cowboys, Seahawks, Eagles, Vikings

Here is the 2018-2019 playoff bracket:

(Photo by Wikipedia)


AFC:

Patriots vs Steelers in Foxborough


(Photo: Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)


Well, well, well. Flashback to 2018 to what was probably one of the least entertaining Super Bowls that I can remember. 16 total points. I have some news for you guys, the Patriots playing the Steelers in the first round would have been a problem. If we go to week 15 of the 2018 season, the Patriots went to Pittsburg and lost 17-10 to the Steelers. James Connor was the starting running back followed by a receiving core that included JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown. On defense the Steelers had 2 Pro Bowlers in TJ Watt and Cam Heyward. The Patriots had a running back by committee set up to complement Brady, Edelman, and Gronk. This game, at the very least, would be entertaining. Belicheck would probably be able to find a way to game plan the Patriots to victory, but if they won, it would not be easy. I would give the edge to the Patriots to win, but my prediction would be 24-21 Patriots.

Would this game have long term effects?

100% yes it would. This would be a physical game that would not help your 41 year old quarterback and your injury prone tight end. Gronk was instrumental in their Super Bowl victory. That extra game could have prevented Gronk from making those victory sealing plays. I think the Chiefs game would have a totally different outcome, leading to Mahomes winning his 1st Super Bowl, but we will never know. One thing I am sure about is that the 2nd seed not having a bye will have a huge effect on older teams or injury prone players.


NFC:

Rams vs Vikings in Los Angeles

(Photo: They Hype Magazine)



This game would be fairly one sided. Led by Jared Goff, Tood Gurley, CJ Anderson, Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and a whole cast of other players who could break off for a game changing play, the Rams would have bulldozed the Vikings. Kirk Cousins had a pretty good season, but Dalvin Cook was banged up. An older Latavius Murray was getting a lot of carries, and that might not translate very well for a playoff game. The Vikings defense was solid, but the 2018 Rams were young and pretty dominant. This game would have gone the Rams way, especially with teams still trying to find a way to beat McVay’s game plans. I just don’t think the Vikings would be able to hang with the Rams, and it would just give the Rams even more confidence.

Would this game have long term effects?

While the Rams won on a controversial play, this extra game would not change that call. If the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl without a 1st round bye, I can see the Rams winning it all, but if the Rams had to play the Chiefs, I think Mahomes would capture his first title. The only concern would be Gurley’s health, but CJ Anderson was taking most of the carries anyways.

2017-2018

AFC: Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars, Chiefs, Titans, Bills, Ravens

NFC: Eagles, Vikings, Rams, Saints, Panthers, Falcons, Lions

Here is the 2017-2018 playoff bracket:

(Photo by Wikipedia)

AFC:

Steelers vs Ravens in Pittsburgh



(Photo: nbcsports.com)


The Steelers and Ravens played each other twice during the 2017 season, with the Steelers winning 26-9 and 39-38 respectively. Those are some pretty strange scorelines, but the latter victory was a come from behind win at home for the Steelers. They scored on their final 4 possessions with the last score being a 55 yard game winning field goal. In other words, it was close. The Steelers were led by Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Martavis Bryant. That offense was potent and dangerous. On the defensive side, they were pretty solid. The Ravens on the other hand were led by an overpaid Joe Flacco and no real offensive weapons. This would have been a pretty lopsided affair with the Steelers winning 33-21.

Would this game have long term effects?

No. The Steelers lost to the Jaguars, who I thought were going to come out of the AFC, but playing that first game would not change the outcome. The Jags defense was really good, but they still allowed 42 points, but the offense was able to pull them through. I think the game would have the same outcome, but maybe the score would be lower. I don’t think a 3rd win against the Ravens in 1 season would be enough of a confidence booster to put them past a young and hungry Jaguars team.


NFC:

Vikings vs Lions in Minnesota


(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)


A classic NFC North battle. Personally, the Bears and Packers rivalry is more entertaining, but the Vikings vs the Lions is not bad. Each team lost at home by 7 points. The first game was in Minnesota and the Lions won 14-7. The second game was in Detroit and the Vikings won 30-23. The Vikings were led by Case Keenum, a running back duo which included a younger Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon, along with Diggs, Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph. On the defensive side they were talented and well disciplined. The Lions were led by Matthew Stafford, Golden Tate, and Eric Ebron. Even though this is a big rivalry, I don’t see how the Lions would beat the Vikings. The Vikings were clicking and I can’t say the same about the Lions.

Would this game have long term effects?

This game would have been physical though so that could take a toll on the players. The Vikings beat the Saints on a huge mistake from their safety, but maybe, the Vikings would be a little bit more worn out and unable to keep pace with the Saints. One thing we know for sure is that after beating the Saints, they came out flat against the Eagles and could not stop them at all. So maybe playing a game would take a toll on the Vikings and maybe the Saints would sneak into the Super Bowl. I do think the Eagles were a better overall team though so not much would change. It is hard to predict outcomes when fluke plays factor in, but I don’t think the playoff picture changes that much with the Vikings playing an extra game.

2016-2017

AFC: Patriots, Chiefs, Steelers, Texans, Raiders, Dolphins, Titans

NFC: Cowboys, Falcons, Seahawks, Packers, Giants, Lions, Buccaneers

Here is the 2016-2017 playoff bracket:

(Photo by Wikipedia)

AFC:

Chiefs vs Titans in Kansas City


(Photo by chiefswire.usatoday.com/)


This game would be interesting. You have a battle of pretty passive QBs. The Chiefs were led by Alex Smith while the Titans were led by Marcus Mariota. With Kelce and Maclin as the main pass catchers, the Chiefs offense was pretty good. They scored about 24 points a game while only allowing 19. 2016 was Mariota's first year as the starter, so a rookie QB going against the 2 seed probably won’t end well. One thing the Titans had going for them was that they beat the Chiefs by 2 points in a come from behind win, but the playoffs are a different beast. I think the Titans could hang with the Chiefs, but a win would be hard to expect. I’d say the Chiefs win by a touchdown. 24-17

Would this game have long term effects?

Plain and simple. Nope. The Chiefs lost the next game and winning a game against a rookie QB is not a massive confidence booster. The Steelers were a better team overall and they still beat the Chiefs even if the Chiefs played a game before.


NFC:

Falcons vs Buccaneers in Atlanta


(Photo by thefalcoholic.com)


After losing to the Bucs in week 1, the Falcons came storming back to win by 15 in their week 8 meeting. This Falcons offense was great. Matt Ryan had threats all over the place, starting with Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Devonta Freeman. Defensively they were very solid. On the other side , the Bucs were led by Jameis Winston, who probably could not see the field very well considering he just got eye surgery, and a young Mike Evans, who had yet to emerge as the top threat that he is considered today. The Falcons were more talented and more experienced. This game would have been a very lopsided one in favor of the Falcons. My guess is the final score is 48-28.

Would this game have long term effects?

Atlanta went on to crush the Seahawks and Packers only to choke away the Super Bowl. The extra game would have made no difference because the Falcons were hot going into the Super Bowl. Had they kept their lead, that would have been the most dominant playoff run I have ever seen. But at the end of the day, Brady is Brady and he brought the Pats back from the dead in the craziest game I’ve ever seen.

Recap:

Extending the playoffs to 7 teams really would have had a big effect on 1 post season, but I like that the NFL is expanding. More teams in the playoffs means more revenue. That money goes back to the players which keeps them happy and allows the team to get or keep better players, therefore creating better teams. The NBA and NHL have more than half the league in the playoff and so it is time for the NFL to expand, even if there won’t be a huge difference. Anything can happen in 1 game. We saw that this last postseason with the Titans going on a run. This new era of football is going to be an exciting one!


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