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Saturday/Sunday tripleheaders? Yes, please
How does the idea of not one but two NFL playoff tripleheaders on that drab second weekend of January grab you?
Sure seems like a long way off. Or even hard to believe, given that confirmation comes at a time when no sports are taking place anywhere — well, outside of pro soccer games in Belarus.
But news that a pro league actually is adding more games to its plate — and playoff games at that, starting with the coming season — comes as a jar of salve-for-the-soul, even if we can’t open it for nine months.
NFL owners voted remotely on Tuesday afternoon to approve the addition of two more playoff games per season, from 12 to 14, starting with the 2020 post-season next January.
That’s presuming the coming season goes off as planned. Yes, fingers and legs crossed there.
Players approved the measure two weeks ago when they voted in favour of the new 11-year collective bargaining agreement.
The league’s competition committee plus two powerful ownership committees — the management council and media committee — all had urged owners to pass the expansion. Approval from at least 75% of the league’s 32 owners (that is, 24) are needed to pass any impactful league measure.
Not that any arm-bending was needed on this one. Two more playoff games per year will enrich them all — by about $150 million in added annual revenues, ESPN reported. Players share in that too.
How will the new format work? First let’s look at the old one.
From 1990 through this past season, each conference — the NFC and AFC — produced six playoff teams, with the top two seeds earning first-round byes, and the bottom four playing each other on the first post-season weekend, with the two lowest-seeded division winners playing host to the top two non-division winners, called wild cards. The No. 6 seed would play at No. 3, and No. 5 at No. 4. Winners would advance to the “divisional round” the following weekend.
Henceforth, with seven playoff teams per conference, (a) there now will be three wild-card teams per conference, and (b) only the top seed in each conference will earn a bye for the first round, or “wild-card round.” The other six playoff teams will play off in a 7-at-2, 6-at-3 and 5-at-4 format. All wild-card teams still will begin the playoffs on the road.
This coming season, the wild-card tripleheaders are scheduled for the Jan. 9-10 weekend. Likely approximate kickoff times each day will be 12:30, 4:30 and 8:15 p.m. EST. Stock up on the nachos and dip.
CBS and NBC each will now telecast two first-round games, with Fox and ESPN still televising one apiece.
The last time the NFL expanded the playoffs was in 1990, when the field increased from 10 to 12. Every season since then, the playoff field has featured at least four teams that missed the previous year’s postseason.
The move had been discussed by owners for so many years it had seemed just a matter of when, not if.
There had been a lot of speculation the NFL might schedule one of the two added playoff games on the Monday night immediately following wild-card weekend. But that would have created a fairness imbalance, in that the winner would have at least one less day to prepare for the divisional round than teams whose wild-card games were held on the preceding Saturday or Sunday.
As it is, there remains an imbalance. Any victorious team that plays on the Sunday of wild-card weekend, as opposed to the Saturday, is mightily inconvenienced if it must then play the following weekend on the Saturday.
That happened to the Minnesota Vikings in January. After winning at New Orleans in a game that ended early Sunday evening, the Vikes had to fly three hours home up to Minneapolis, quickly review the Saints victory then scramble to prepare to play the top-seeded 49ers at San Francisco. They were home for only four full days (Monday through Thursday) before flying four-plus hours west to San Francisco on Friday.
The Niners walloped the Vikings on Saturday, 27-10.
12 IT IS FOR BRADY
“TB12” it remains.
Tom Brady will wear No. 12 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as he did for 20 seasons with the New England Patriots.
The Bucs announced as much Tuesday.
Pro Bowl wide receiver Chris Godwin had worn No. 12 for the past three seasons. But he “offered it to Brady, who gratefully accepted,” according to a story at Buccaneers.com.
Godwin now will wear No. 14. He was not compensated either by Brady or the team for giving up No. 12, the story said.
Brady, who wore No. 10 at the University of Michigan from 1995-99, probably is the most famous wearer of a No. 12 jersey in NFL history — and that’s a heck of a feat, considering the impressive list also includes Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Jim Kelly, Aaron Rodgers, Kenny Stabler, Bob Griese and Joe Namath. Yeah.
Adding Melvin Gordon when the Denver Broncos already had productive Phillip Lindsay meant the team necessarily would be proceeding on a “by committee” approach at running back.
On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said that’s fine and implied a little competition never hurt anyone.
“Phillip is a competitor,” Fangio said. “He’s just not going to give away his job or his carries. It’s pretty commonplace in the NFL right now to have two backs share the running back duties.
“There’s a lot of work there to be had between the both of them. We’ll see how it unfolds.”
Gordon, the Los Angeles Chargers’ starter for the past five seasons, amassing 6,113 yards from scrimmage and scoring 47 touchdowns.
Cincinnati cut CB Dre Kirkpatrick and re-signed CB Greg Mabin … Chicago re-signed DB DeAndre Houston-Carson for one year … Indianapolis signed former Cleveland and Oakland CB T.J. Carrie … Seattle cut tight end Ed Dickson and safety Tedric Thompson. Reports said the moves free up $5 million of cap space for the Seahawks.
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