Blog Entry

NFL Realignment

Posted on: January 18, 2010 3:11 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2010 10:15 pm
Before anyone gets bent out of shape, I fully acknowledge this will never happen. The battle between sticking to what makes rich and powerful people more rich and powerful and what makes sense is usually over before it ever begins. However, in my fantasy world, I would like to see the NFL realigned in to divisions that make geographical sense with teams that are in logical proximity to one another.

The biggest hurdles to making this a reality are that some traditional divisional rivalries would be broken up, some teams would switch conferences, and a couple of teams would need to be relocated to new cities. As far as the divisional rivalries are concerned, there are really very few that have nationwide significance and remain strong throughout the test of time. More often, the teams tend to play each other more tightly because of familiarity but national implications between the teams are far more sporadic. On the other hand, passionate rivalries can emerge that exist outside of the division, such as the battle between Indianapolis and New England over the course of the last decade. The fact that this proposal better contains divisions within geographical areas, added to the reality that these teams would begin playing twice a year, are sure to produce new and lasting rivalries.

As far as the relocation of teams is concerned, this is a requirement born out of the continued neglect by the league to cultivate an adequate number of Western-based teams. There are currently a total of 6 NFL teams in the entire Western half of the United States and this needs to be remedied. By relocating two of the newer franchises awarded that have failed to achieve Super Bowl appearances to Western locations, as they should have been located in the first place, balance can be better achieved. The first relocation would be Jacksonville to Los Angeles. This is a move that has already been rumored and debated. Los Angeles is the 2nd largest television market in the nation whereas Florida was already well represented prior to the birth of the Jaguars. Jacksonville failed to prevent television blackouts in the majority of their home games this year. There is a formidable argument to be made for this move.

The second relocation I immediately confess is self-serving to what I would like to see. This would be the relocation of the Buffalo Bills to Portland, Oregon. Although the Bills have achieved 4 Superbowl teams and were one of the more memorable franchises of the late 80's and early 90's, fan support has wavered leading the team to be another frequent source of relocation rumors, including Canada.  Portland is a top-20 television market and would immediately fuel rivalries with both their Northwest neighbor, Seattle, and California teams. Now to the details.

AFC West
Arizona, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego.

AFC North
Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and St. Louis.

AFC South
Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Tennessee.

AFC East
Cleveland, New England, New Jersey (Jets), and Pittsburgh.

NFC West
Denver, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle

NFC North
Chicago, Detriot, Green Bay, and Minnesota

NFC South
Atlanta, Carolina, Miami, and Tampa Bay

NFC East
Baltimore, New York (Giants), Philadelphia, and Washington.

As you can see, the only division completely left alone would be the NFC North. The move of Dallas to the AFC would be the most shocking, but they clearly do not belong in an East division in the first place. A couple new divisional rivalries of note would be Pittsburgh and New England as well as Denver and San Francisco. I would be interested to hear if others had thoughts on how we might reshape the league.
Category: NFL

Since: Jan 26, 2012
Posted on: January 26, 2012 1:30 am

NFL Realignment

I believe the Blazers have sold out 168 straight games, there is no lack of support for them. Also they have no problems supporting the MLS team either selling out all of those games as well. 

Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: January 21, 2010 3:08 pm

NFL Realignment

I think you're on to something here. It really should be about geography but not because it looks pretty on a map. It's about fans going to the away games of their teams.  If they are close enough fans will make the drive. That just increases attendance and profits, which I assume the owners would like. Let's face it rivalries are meaningless to owners if they can't make some money out of it.

The only thing that bothers me is the Dallas Houston situation. That seems a little bit too close. But I've never even been to Texas, let alone lived there and rooted for a team. I'll defer to Texan on that call.

Portland might be a good home for a team, but I think Boise deserves consideration. They play some high quality football up there. Granted they are in the same corner of the country, but I don't think they are close enough to overlap fan bases. Or with Seattle either.

And what about the South? Alabama could support a team. I lived there. They are football crazy. Why do you think these start-up competitor leagues always have a team in Birmingham?

I mean if you are going to re-align then go big. Suck in all the football fans you can. There are many pockets of underserved football fans in this country. But nothing gets done about it because the owners are in such fear of making a mistake. And ironically, that leads to many bad moves.

Since: Jan 15, 2009
Posted on: January 21, 2010 12:37 pm

NFL Realignment

I'm not saying this could happen either, but it could take 10 yrs at least to get all this in line this way.  However, I think that fans would relatively quickly (about 5 yrs after) start to accept the new alignment.  When that happens you'll have much more fan participation as they'll be able to travel more easily to away games.  Geographic alignment is more efficient for that affect and woud make financial sense to the NFL in the long run.

I also found it interesting that poster put my Ravens back into the NFC east wherer they'd have to pick a fight to have another meaningful rivalry.  Now that we're all settle in with the Steelers and all Ithnk that the author should reconsider and move us back to his AFC East model and put the Patriots in his NFC East to allows to keep our Steelers rivalry and account for all the main northeast coast cities to be in the same division - NY, Philly, DC, and Boston.  That would be a cool division!

Since: Jan 21, 2010
Posted on: January 21, 2010 10:51 am

NFL Realignment

I expected this to be stupid but must say it is well thought out. Well done. Your divisions are definetely alligned better. As a Browns fan I would miss the Ravens match-ups though. And I doubt a franchise would ever go to Portland. As far as I know they have a hard time supporting the Blazers so I'm not sure a football team would be much different. It's only a matter of time till LA gets there team. How it has taken so long I dont know. LA Jaquars??

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: January 21, 2010 12:00 am

NFL Realignment

You can't realign. You will bury too much history.  The easier thing to do would be simply rename the divisions. TAKE THE GEOGRAPHY OUT OF THE NAMES!!! Switch it to something numerical or of American Heritage. Or better yet name the divisions after the founding fathers of football. IE.. the NFC Heismann, Nfc Leahy, Nfc Stagg...etc.etc.etc. 

North south east west doesnt mean squat.!!!!

Since: Feb 2, 2009
Posted on: January 20, 2010 3:58 pm

NFL Realignment

What a tremendous waste of time.. I'm now angry that i read it.

Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2010 3:27 pm

NFL Realignment

Many good points. If I thought this was something the NFL would seriously address, I could live with less radical changes. I hope that some day the league will see the same common-sense reasoning that the fans do and get the debate started.

Since: Jan 15, 2009
Posted on: January 20, 2010 10:31 am

NFL Realignment

Point well taken.

Since: Nov 2, 2008
Posted on: January 20, 2010 12:13 am

NFL Realignment

you obviously must be a denver fan, why move arizona and denver to different conferences?  Oregon couldnt even support an NBA let alone 2 nfl teams... Vegas will be inline for a team...  I thank ya for putting my Colts in that division, they'd win that every year... I dont see them realigning... Atlanta was in the NFC west for years before realignment

Since: Apr 17, 2009
Posted on: January 19, 2010 10:45 pm

NFL Realignment

I agree with all your points save one.  Seems like, if Jacksonville were to move to LA, the most logical way of mixing up the divisions (to keep things simple) would be to just swap them with Kansas City.  No conference changes required, and KC would get the same advantages you mentioned above for St. Louis.

Other than that minor disagreement, though, great post! Smile

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