So I have been thinking about the possibilities of what would happen if the NFL brought in 4 expansion teams over the next 10 years. There are a number of cities (even countries) that are hungry for an NFL franchise. I think many of us would be for it but what would that mean for our divisions? We would go from 8 divisions of 4 teams to 8 divisions of 4 and a half??? Hardly makes sense. What I would like to see is a total restructure ala the NBA with an East/West theme. Now, this would inevitably break up some conferences but would also create new rivalries.
First off, my scenario has the Jacksonville Jaguars moving to LA, a city completely in need of an NFL team. Even though the NFL is geared to expand in England, my expansion scenario includes 4 American teams and has the Bills moving to Toronto.
The 1st 2 cities actually gained interest in the sports world during the Katrina catastrophe for both the NFL and the NBA. They are San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Having another Texas team is huge for the NFL and the success of OKC in the NBA would be a clear indicator that its a great sports city with a loud fanbase.
The next city on the list would be a city where every team in the NFL has already been to - Hawaii. The NFL would have the only professional sports organization that would have a team in Hawaii. What this would also bring to the NFL is quite possibly the best city to host a Superbowl from one of it's current franchises. I would welcome the move.
The final location is probably the best football town that has never owned an NFL team of it's own - Portland. Imagine the rivalry potential of Seattle/Portland, 2 cities so close to 1 another. Oregon has the Ducks in college but an NFL team would be a huge deal for the state.
So we have our teams set. The Bills and Jags move to LA and Toronto respectively and to have a little fun lets name our NFL expansion teams: Hawaii Hurricanes, Portland Sharks, San Antonio Outlaws and the Oklahoma City Red Wolves. Next up on the list would be to harmonize the divisions and consolidate from 8 divisions of 4 to 3 divisions of 6. They would be: Norteast, Central, Southeast, Northwest, Midwest and Southwest. Here is how the re-alignment would look:
Northeast - Bills, Jets, Giants, Patriots, Ravens, Eagles.
Central - Browns, Bengals, Steelers, Lions, Bears, Colts.
Southeast - Bucs, Panthers, Falcons, Titans, Dolphins, Redskins.
Northwest - Seahawks, Sharks, 49ers, Chargers, Raiders, Jaguars.
Midwest - Packers, Vikings, Broncos, Chiefs, Rams, Red Wolves.
Southeast - Hurricanes, Outlaws, Cowboys, Texans, Saints, Cardinals.
As you can see there are rivalries that will be affected but new ones created. The final topic to address would be playoff seeding. I will assume the NFL will increase to an 8 team per conference playoff system under the new alignment. I like the way the NBA does it where division winners cannot fall below a 4th seed slot, however a "wild card" may be able to host a home game based on their overall record. The bad thing about an 8 seeding playoff format is that unless I am missing something I can only see 1 logical way this would work - eliminate the 1st round bye entirely. 1 plays 8, 2 plays 7, 3 plays 6 and 4 plays 5. Re-seeding occurs normally. What are your thoughts about this expansion scenario?