You may recall on Tuesday, we announced this new series where we will take a look at the NFL, and a possible way to restructure it, shake things up, and see what a breath of fresh air might do for the behemoth that is the NFL.
Now, there are a few things to keep in mind. With this first idea for re-alignment, it was pretty simple. We keep the current NFL structure, current division names, current scheduling structure, and everything. (Though it can be debated that the names won't hold true based on team locations, for now we will leave them in to make things easier to sort out.) The idea is to look at a way to facilitate travel time, energy and costs. Additionally, we would like to foster rivalries that should probably exist, but don't, as well as find a way to even up some divisions that have been historically dominated by one team. Yes some teams are going to have to jump conferences, and yes, some fans aren't going to like that. The goal isn't to make them happy short term, the goal is to extend the life of the NFL long term.
With that said, let's take a look at our first realignment patients, the NFC West and the AFC West
|Current Lineup||New Lineup|
|San Francisco 49ers||San Diego Chargers|
|Seattle Seahawks||Arizona Cardinals|
|Arizona Cardinals||Dallas Cowboys|
|St. Louis Rams||Houston Texans|
Out with the old: The most glaring problem with the NFC West, as currently constructed, was caused when the Rams moved to St. Louis from Los Angeles. Fundamentally, that's a problem with the entire west coast. 25 percent of the teams are west of Kansas City, so no matter what, there's someone who has a bad trip.
Removing the Rams is an obvious key. But what spurs the rest of this change? Why not put all the teams that line the coast in the same group?
In with the new: The answer is in the outliers of Colorado, Arizona, and Texas. Setting this area up as a "raw frontier" of football will not only provide for the development of new and interesting rivalries, but contains a point for marketing the battle for the "old west." Call it the NFC Southwest, if you so choose.
Many will bemoan the movement of the Cowboys from the NFC East, but let's face it, they haven't really belonged there from a logistical standpoint since the shift to four divisions anyways. Put them in a division with Houston, Arizona, and San Diego. Each of those teams can skirt along the southwest corridor as they play each other, and you can help develop a natural rivalry that in short order, I bet the state of Texas would love to embrace two times each season. You've reduced the amount of traveling for teams significantly, and everything will work out just fine.
|Current Lineup||New Lineup|
|San Diego Chargers||Seattle Seahawks|
|Kansas City Chiefs||San Francisco 49ers|
|Oakland Raiders||Oakland Raiders|
|Denver Broncos||Denver Broncos|
Out with the old: Let's get Kansas City out of there. It doesn't seem like it, but those trips to the west coast are actually kind of far for the Chiefs, who are the gateway to the west. (Sorry, Rams) As for the shifting of the Chargers, we've already covered that above.
In with the new: Well that's a change. This helps foster what should be a natural rivalry--the battle of the bay between San Francisco and Oakland. Additionally, we've eliminated some of the really long travel trips related to Seattle, and have given denver some new opponents to face.
I'm hard pressed to see too many who would complain, though when the Cardinals are bad, they're bad. San Francisco and Seattle might not appreciate the step up in competition that the Raiders and Broncos may bring, but it should elevate the level of games that are played through out that division.
There's the first step of our new-look NFL. What are your thoughts? Next Tuesday, we'll take a look at who and where the Bears may be playing...