Playoff expansions, good or bad?


Harrison Wetzel, Staff Writer

Like anything that makes money, sports are a business. But to call them just a business is an understatement. If you look alone at the NFL, we see that 91 out of the top 100 most watched TV programs of the year belong to them. This is more than a business; this is a lifestyle. But, like any business the goal is to make more money, and it figures leagues have seemingly found an infinite money glitch in, one aspect: playoff expansion. Let’s take a look at the history of playoff expansions across the NFL, NCAAF, and MLB.


The NFL has historically been known for its twelve team playoff, with 6 teams making it from each conference. They added this 6th seed in 1990 and the sixth seed has actually had a 40% winning share in Wild Card Weekend, and not to mention the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and 2010 Green Bay Packers both won the Superbowl as 6th seeds.

But, in 2020 the NFL decided to add a 7th seed, which in turn let 14 teams qualify, while only the top seed in each conference earned a bye. Now, the NFL has made an absolute enormous profit on these two additional teams, but here’s the problem: the 7 seeds are 0-6 since being introduced into the playoffs with only two teams losing by only one score (2020 Colts and 2022 Dolphins.) Now, inevitably a seven seed will win a playoff game, right? But when comparing the records of the seven seeds here’s where they stand.

2020: Indianapolis Colts (11-5), Chicago Bears (8-8)

2021: Steelers (9-7-1), Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)

2022: Miami Dolphins (9-8), Seattle Seahawks (9-8)

These records prove one thing, mediocrity is getting introduced into the postseason. Very seldom will you see a team 3 games above .500, like the 2020 Colts, making the playoffs by a thread. In fact, if that same record would’ve happened the next season, the Colts would’ve been a fifth seed. Well, even against everything I’ve said it still is two more playoff games we all get to experience, and one of these days a seven seed will pull off the upset of the century, and we’ll never question the masterminds of the league again.

Ruling: Justified


Oh, dear. College football has been an absolute coven of chaos on the topic. Since 2014, the NCAAF has let the top 4 teams by resume into the playoffs, and actually all four seeds have won a championship. But people argue this dilutes the competition, and top recruits will simply only go to the best programs. And it should be noted regardless of opinions, the playoffs are expanding to 12 teams, in 2025. But, this expansion creates two massive problems in my mind.

  1. Top recruits will go to programs that will give them the best chance to make the NFL. They already don’t care about championships, and now they especially won’t.
  2. The top teams are still going to win.

I’m aware the reason for this expansion is all about the dough. But, the New Years Day 6 already make HEAPS of cash. People are going to watch regardless. There’s no need to integrate them into the playoffs with, basically no shot to win. I could see a justification for six teams, but twelve is just outlandish. And, I’d bet all the money in the world, in our lifetimes we will never see a twelve seed win the chip.

Ruling: Unjustified


This one is going to be short and simple. The MLB expanded to 10 teams in 2012, and people were questioning their decision then. But in 2022, they added two more teams in each league, into the fall tournament. But in the very first season, the sixth seed Philadelphia Phillies went to the World Series and nearly toppled the baseball world.

Ruling: Justified, and long overdue

I did first pose this article on if expansion is good or bad. And well, look at my rulings 2>1. Many leagues actually do benefit from it, while it doesn’t work for all, at the end of the day it’s just more games to watch. If you ask me, in sports quantity trumps quality.