|Georgia||Texas A&M||Texas A&M|
with game results projected in the first three rounds in part to clarify the structure of the bracket; two games in the first round pit top 4 teams, and Florida and Notre Dame, by virtue of losing those, are sent across the bracket to their second-chance games against lower-ranked teams that entered on single-elimination terms. The semifinals here feature Oregon against an SEC team and Notre Dame against an SEC team.
One feature of playoffs in all four "major professional sports" in the US(/Canada) is that the leagues consist of two "conferences" and that the playoffs keep each "conference" separate; the playoff systems thereby create a championship match (or series) that has one team from each half of the league, rather than seeking straightforwardly to pair up the top two teams. In baseball the two halves of the league play with slightly different rules, and in basketball and hockey they have a certain geographical logic, but in the NFL in particular the division is entirely historical; having "AFC champions" and "NFC champions" I suppose gives the team that loses a little bit more euphemistic title than "Super Bowl loser" — and perhaps even a team that "has been to n of the last m AFC championships" even feels it's accomplished more than a team that "has been to n of the last m quarterfinals". It feels a bit hollow to me, and I'd just as soon see a single tournament. In the regular season, at the moment, each team plays 12 games within its conference and only 4 against the other conference; this could be modified, but as a first step, perhaps we should take six teams from each conference into the playoffs, seeded separately, and have them play
As a couple final remarks,
- The NFL playoffs as currently constituted are, as far as I know, unique in that there is not a fixed "bracket"; a team that gets a bye into the second round doesn't have a particular game of which it plays the winner. What I have produced here is a more traditional "bracket" in that sense. I'm not necessarily opposed to the NFL's system in that regard; this is just what I did.
- Major college football does have a number of "conference championship" games, all of which take one team from each of two "divisions" of a conference, rather than taking the top two regardless of division. This year Ohio State, because of previous misdeeds, was ineligible to play in the championship game of its conference, but was declared the champion of its division; the team in its division that finished highest in the standings while also not being under instutitional sanctions went to the championship game instead. There was some lack of clarity, midway through the season, as to whether Ohio State would be allowed to be the "division champion"; it seems to me that the decision that was made vitiates much of the reason for the structure of the championship game. If the point isn't to match the two "division champions", it should be to match the top two teams. The asymmetric schedule makes a case for some preference toward having teams from different divisions, but in this case the team that went in Ohio State's place was a full two games behind a team from the other division that didn't make the championship game and that would have seemed to have a rather better case for being invited.
|New England||San Francisco|
|Denver||San Francisco||(New England)||New England|
|Green Bay||Green Bay|
I will note some features of the bracket that should perhaps have been mentioned before (they aren't specific to this simulation):
- As long as no lower seed beats an upper seed, teams from the same conference won't play each other until at least the third round; any such matchup must follow a team beating a seed at least as high as itself.
- Two teams will not play each other a second time — there will be no "rematches" — until at least the fourth round (as there is in the mock bracket), at which point there are only three teams left and you're running out of ways to avoid them.