Mo' Better Football, But Cowboys In NFL Expanded Playoffs Are History's Sad Tale

Mike Fisher

Is more football more better? That's the way the NFL owners see it as they prepare to use a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to fuel not only a 17-game regular season (with, mercifully, a shortened preseason) but also an expansion from 12 to 14 playoff teams.

Is more playoff opportunity more better for the Dallas Cowboys? The truth about the last decade is as stunning as it is ugly.

The foremost reason for the change, obviously, is revenue. More football means more money. (It also means more injuries, but the owners obviously view that as somebody else's problem). 

But the biggest result of the change? Contrary to the thinking of those who cry, every time a pro league expands its playoff field, that it renders the regular season obsolete: It makes more regular-season games more important.

With an increase of 14 playoff teams, this will allow nearly 44 percent of the teams in the league to make the playoffs. It will also greatly increase the number of teams with sub-.500 records to keep playing hard, because they're now more likely to remain in contention longer.

All of those Week 16 and Week 17 games involving, say, the Browns and the Bengals (and Cowboys and Redskins) watched by nobody but the gamblers? Those games are now far more likely to have playoff implications. ... Meaning more viewers, more at stake, more attempts at good football.

The No. 2 seed from each conference presently gets a bye, along with the No. 1 seed. That would be gone, with just the No. 1 seed getting to rest. Seven teams in, the bottom six battling on Wild-Card Weekend, all adding up to a proper, singular reward for the top team, and more football for the rest. And for us.

And now to your Dallas Cowboys. I've often referred to the NFL as "A .500 League,'' and as coach Jason Garrett's 'Boys as the embodiment of that.

In the last 10 years, the Cowboys have rarely been awful and have rarely been great. I think most of us probably view them as consistently "almost good.'' But ... now to the ugly stunner ...

Not in any of the last 10 seasons would the Cowboys have benefitted from being "the seventh-best team.'' Dallas number of playoff entries would not have changed a bit.

So it's fun to look at this as, "The Cowboys' chances of making the NFC Playoffs will increase by 10 percent!'' But in reality, every team's chances increase by 10 percent ... and Dallas' 10-year history gives no indication that the Cowboys have been good enough to take advantage.

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