Super Wild Card Weekend Takeways
It’s Wednesday. Hump day as it’s called in some parts. Just ask that guy named Mike from the commercials. On this Wednesday, I was thinking about the “SUPER” Wild Card weekend of NFL football we just encountered. As usual, I have a few thoughts that I’m sure you are all waiting to read. Welp, here they are.
Why is it still SUPER?
I kept hearing this weekend referred to as SUPER Wild Card weekend. Now I get why it was called SUPER the first time we had 7 teams make the playoffs. Instead of 4 games on Wild Card weekend, it was now 6. I suppose adding an extra game really makes things SUPER. My issue here is purely semantic. It’s looking like the 7 team playoff is going to be the norm from now on, so there’s really no need to call it SUPER anymore. Just drop that nonsense and call it Wild Card weekend like the rest of us.
On a side note, who else thinks Wild Card should be one word? I think it looks bizarre as two words. I’m sure none of you noticed that until I mentioned it, but now you won’t be able to stop noticing it. I propose it goes from “Wild Card” to “Wildcard” to satisfy my strange OCD tendencies.
Losing Teams Making the Playoffs
Ok. This one has been an issue ever since the divisional system came into play. It very rarely happened, but it happened. The one that sticks out in my mind was back in 2011. According to ProFootballTalk, the first losing team to make the playoffs was the Seattle Seahawks at 7-9. This year, the 8-9 Tampa Bay Brady’s, I mean Buccaneers, won the putrid NFC South and made the playoffs. I might be crazy, but if your team has a losing record, you probably shouldn’t make the playoffs. It just seems strange to me. Meanwhile, much better teams with better records are forced to be Wild Card teams. Also, better teams may miss the playoffs altogether.
All that being said, I think this should remain the case. Every team’s first goal every year is to win their division. That shouldn’t change. If you can do that, no matter the scenario, you should get a home playoff game. Even if you have what Dan Shaughnessy always called a “Tomato Can” division. It’s just the way it works. Instead of moaning and groaning about the situation, teams should just go out and win their division.
Thankfully, these situations usually work themselves out. I’m sure Saints fans will disagree with me here, because of what happened in 2011, but it is usually true. This year, the Bucs got their butts kicked by the Cowboys and things are fine.
This is a quick one, but it's big. Tuesday at school I could tell which kids’ parents watched the games. Echoes of “At BK…Have it your way,” rung from the high ceilings of the gym. It’s a great and horrible ad campaign at the same time. It stays in your mind well after the commercial is on your screen. I even saw someone had a video on TIkTok that played all of the various versions of the song, with them all synching at the end. It was nuts.
The NFL is good at this. They know exactly when to schedule big games. The playoffs commenced on a weekend when most people have Monday off thanks to Martin Luther King Day. Genius. That meant with six games to play, they could put two on primetime on Saturday and Sunday night. As someone who has to wake up early for work, I loved not having to worry about an early morning on Monday. Also, the use of Saturday now that college football is over, is fantastic.
Monday Night Football?
This might be a hot take, but I’ll say it. I hate Monday Night Football. First of all, everyone is tired on Monday. So a primetime game is just ruining Tuesday morning. Second, it usually has a dreadful matchup that nobody wants to watch. It’s not as bad as Thursday Night Football, but it’s still not great. Third, it almost feels like a consolation prize that teams get. It’s like the NFL says, “You’ve got a bad game this week. How about an extra day of prep?” I think MNF needs to be abolished.
Now that you know my opinion on it as a whole, I think you can tell where this is going.
The addition of MNF to Wild Card weekend is dumb. There was no need to hold one of these games on Monday. The NFL basically had a monopoly on sports last weekend, just make Saturday a mirror image of Sunday. A 1pm game, a 4:30 game and an 8:15. Before you say it, I understand it was probably a contractual obligation the NFL had with ESPN, but we can do better. Just shift it Saturday and call it Monday night on Saturday or something. The only good thing that happened, is the worst game of the week was on MNF. The Bucs/Cowboys game was boring and basically defined the feeling after a long weekend. Kind of fun, but ultimately a tease.
Oh my god. People have been asking for this for years. If a close play on the field is called and it is so clearly not what the call was, why do we waste our time with the on-field ref reviewing it? They can watch the play at NFL headquarters and quickly tell the ref to fix the issue. It takes no time, and leaves the on-field refs free to make calls as they see them. It also saves coaches from challenging plays that are so clear we all can see it. Quite honestly, there’s no reason these expedited reviews can’t be done more often in the regular season. It’s a great thing that should definitely stick around.
Pre/Post Game and Halftime Shows
Normally, an NFL Sunday is filled with games that no person can possibly watch all of. Even NFL Redzone misses a few things. Meanwhile, each network has their own pre/post game shows that can recap the big moments from each game, and provide analysis of some of the games. The halftime shows are able to do the same thing while games are still happening. But when there are only 6 games happening in a week, and they all take place at separate times, these things are tedious at best. We all saw the game beforehand, and don’t care to watch the highlights for the 76th time. Nor do I want to hear washed up players break down a game I watched every snap of.
I guess they kind of have to keep doing this, because they’re paying these analysts and hosts big money, but can we be more creative? Especially on the second day of the weekend. Show the highlights once and do something else! This could be a time to try new segments or ideas that might not make the cut, but could at least be mildly entertaining. Most people use halftime as an opportunity to freshen up their beverages or use the stink lodge anyway so who cares? But creativity loses out to convention every time.
Keep the Format
It’s been said a lot and it’s no less true than the first time it was said. The NFL is the best playoff experience in sports. It’s sudden death. No long term planning, no watered down playoff field and no 7 game, week long series. It just screams must watch TV. You’re locked in. If you miss one play, you could miss the whole game. This is my last take away from the whole thing. Just keep doing it. Don’t be like the NBA and put every team in the playoffs. IT’S GOOOOD! Don’t ruin it!