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Friday, April 12, 2019

An Idea for NFL Realignment

Recently, college football has undergone conference realignment, and I don't like it. Previously, conferences had been arranged mostly based upon geographical location. Now, with the push toward bigger conferences and the "Power 5", we've got teams from completely different parts of the country matched together in conferences. For example, Maryland moved from the ACC to the Big 10, and Texas A and M has moved from the Big 12 to the SEC. West Virginia in the Big 12 doesn't work for me, either. It makes no sense.

The NFL has a similar problem with teams playing in divisions outside their geographic region. So, it got me to thinking about how I might realign NFL divisions to fix the issue if it were up to me. In doing so, I used the graphic below, which shows the location of the 32 NFL teams, as a guide.

Source: Sport League Maps - NFL

I've been percolating today's article in my head for some time. With the NFL Draft 2 weeks away, now seems like as good a time as any to unveil it. It's a departure from my usual writing. I simply did it for fun out of my love for the game of football. I'm sure some will take issue with it, and that's ok, because it's only my opinion as to how I might do it. I'm sure others have ideas as well.

I had a few goals in mind. In order of priority, they were:
  1. Group teams together in 4s by geographic proximity.
  2. Group teams in the same state into same division when possible.
  3. Keep teams in same conference when possible.
  4. Keep teams in same division within same conference when possible.
Even with these goals in mind, when I finished this project, 10 teams, or 31.3% of the NFL changed divisions. Of those, 8, or 25% of the NFL, also changed conferences. I will confess - the fans of some teams, the Dallas Cowboys come to mind, will not like "The Sheepdog's Proposed NFL Realignment". The only division to emerge unscathed with no changes is the NFC North - Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, and Minnesota stay put.

Now, why do this:
  1. To facilitate local rivalries. 
  2. To make it easier for fans to attend more of their favorite team's games, because they are played closer to their home.
  3. To reduce team travel time. Doing so would enable players to spend more time with their families and allow for more healing, recovery, and physical therapy time regarding injuries between games.
  4. To reduce team travel costs.
Now, with the intro out of the way, here's the proposal.