Monday, March 5, 2012

Bye Bye Bye (Our New Playoff Format)

By Josh Bourhis

After a long discussion with all the writers here at the NLLBlog, we have decided to reach out to our fans with articles from a different take. We promise to bring you more exciting articles, and talk about things that are effecting the league in positive and negative ways. We want to bring you our opinion on different topics, and it starts with this article.

The Holy Grail of the NLL
Playoffs: A series of contests to determine the winner of a championship, played between the LEADING teams in different divisions.

The Problem:
Notice how "Leading" is bolded? The reason why it's bolded is because of the current playoff format in the NLL. For those who aren't aware the top 4 teams in each division make it, and it's played 1 vs.4, 2 vs. 3, winner moves on. The only problem is the West division has 5 teams and the East has 4. Does it make sense for 8 of the 9 make the playoffs? No. To have every team but one to make the playoffs lowers the competion level come the last couple of games because by then, the team that isn't making it is pretty much decided.  The format needs to be changed. I understand because it is a small league, that they want lots of teams to make the playoffs to keep fan interest in all cities, but lets be honest, it just makes the regular season less exciting.

The Solution:
Change the playoff format. What I suggest is a playoff format that is already being used in another league. The Canadian Football League (CFL). The NLL has already brought in a crossover rule, which is in effect in the CFL. The playoff format is as follows: Top 3 teams in each division make it. The top seed in the West and East will get a bye week over the first round of the playoffs. This means that seeds 2 and 3 will play each other, loser goes home. This is better because:

A. The whole East division doesn't make the playoffs. What's the point in playing the regular season if you are already guaranteed a spot? This creates a chance for the bottom teams to battle for that last spot late in the season.

B. There is not just home field advantage incentive, but first round bye incentive. There is not a single team out there that wouldn't want a first round bye. Teams would much rather have only two games where they face elimination than three. This also raises the compete level.

N Sync fully supports our suggested playoff format

C. The crossover rule they implemented has more meaning. With this new format, there is not just the 5th team in the West fighting to have a better record than the 4th team in the East. The format would allow for 3 teams to have their own race for the crossover if they have had a bad season.

If the season ended today, these would be the playoff teams:
*Note: There would be no crossover at this point

West:                                                                     East:
Colorado  (7-1)                                                     Toronto        (4-4)
Calgary     (5-3)                                                     Philadelphia  (4-4)
Minnesota (5-3)                                                     Rochester     (4-5)

While the format may not look much better as of the standings right now because all of the East playoff spots have teams without winning records by the end of the season the majority of these records will be over .500 there fore allowing the most deserving teams playing for the championship. A 2-5 Buffalo or 2-4 Edmonton should not be allowed to make the playoffs.

If the records of the playoff teams shown above do remain consistent through the end of the year (ex. Toronto, Philadelphia Minnesota finish 8-8 and Rochester finishes 7-9) it just shows the amount of parity in the league. This is not a bad thing it just means the race for home field advantage and the final playoff spot will be better towards the conclusion of the 2012 season.

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  1. One thing that I have been thinking about in terms of playoffs would be this idea: Top three of each division make the playoffs and the top team of each would get a bye and the #1 and #2 seeds. The remaining four teams would be seeded #3-#6 based on records and head-to-head tie breakers. The #3 team would play #6 and #4 would play #5 no matter what conference they were in. In the next round, the #1 would play the lowest seed remaining and #2 would play the other team and then the victors would face each other in the championship.

    I don't understand the need for divisions in the league (especially carried into playoffs) when there are only a handful of teams and they play everyone anyways.

  2. With that logic wouldn't it just be better to get rid of divisions completely by playoff time and just take the top 6?

    1. I would be fine with that. Just give the #1 and #2 seeds to the top two teams and call it all good.

    2. It would be an interesting idea. When Mike and I were discussing this the thought of no divisions came up. The only problem I see with that is the ever changing number of teams in the league. If in the next 5 years the NLL suddenly had 12 teams instead of 9 I feel like it would be better to keep the divisions so the NLL doesn't have to drastically rethink the division or one conference structure/playoff format every time new teams are added or lost.

    3. You have to keep the divisions for scheduling reasons.

  3. The East isn't guaranteed a spot . . . if the West 5 has a better record than the East 4, the West 5 plays as the East 4. That would mean Washington would play the first round in Toronto if Buffalo lost it's last two games this year. The bad thing about that is I didn't see anything wrong with the old format . . .change it because Boston will only be gone for one year?
    Although I've heard Boston won't be back, and when the Titans said that, they went and shut down the website. Both teams technically still exist, though. but I hate crossing anything over when it comes to sports. The only "crossing-over" should be when leagues have to work out venue leases, especially come playoff time. Exapansion talks are there, but nobody has stepped forward to front one, that's because Commissioner George isn't comfortable with that yet - he hasn't brought in a single team . . . he lost the Jax and has seen two others go on hiatus (perhaps for good).

    1. with those three teams, there's your 12 Josh B

    2. I can pretty much assure you that the Blazers won't be coming back.