Monday, February 3, 2014

Making The Pro Bowl Matter

If the NFL wants to boost ratings for the Pro Bowl, they need to make it count for something.

NFL fans are serious. They will show up in sub-zero weather to root for a last-place team. But they won't bother to turn on the TV for an exhibition game that doesn't have any effect on the actual season.

The solution: Give the top draft picks to the conference that wins the Pro Bowl.

Won-Loss records would still be used to rank teams within each conference. But the Pro Bowl winner is guaranteed to get the #1 pick.

For example, this is the current draft order for the 2014 NFL draft:

Pick #
Team
Pick #
Team
1
Houston Texans (AFC)
17
Dallas Cowboys (NFC)
2
St. Louis Rams (NFC)
18
New York Jets (AFC)
3
Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC)
19
Miami Dolphins (AFC)
4
Cleveland Browns (NFC)
20
Arizona Cardinals (NFC)
5
Oakland Raiders (AFC)
21
Green Bay Packers (NFC)
6
Atlanta Falcons (NFC)
22
Philadelphia Eagles (NFC)
7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC)
23
Kansas City Chiefs (AFC)
8
Minnesota Vikings (NFC)
24
Cincinnati Bengals (AFC)
9
Buffalo Bills (AFC)
25
San Diego Chargers (AFC)
10
Detroit Lions (NFC)
26
Indianapolis Colts (AFC)
11
Tennessee Titans (AFC)
27
New Orleans Saints (NFC)
12
New York Giants (NFC)
28
Carolina Panthers (NFC)
13
St. Louis Rams (NFC)
29
New England Patriots (AFC)
14
Chicago Bears (NFC)
30
San Francisco 49ers (NFC)
15
Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC)
31
Denver Broncos (AFC)
16
Baltimore Ravens (AFC)
32
Seattle Seahawks (NFC)

If this rule had been in place, and the AFC had won, this would be the resulting draft order:

Pick #
Team
Pick #
Team
1
Houston Texans (AFC)
17
St. Louis Rams (NFC)
2
Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC)
18
Atlanta Falcons (NFC)
3
Cleveland Browns (AFC)
19
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC)
4
Oakland Raiders (AFC)
20
Minnesota Vikings (NFC)
5
Buffalo Bills (AFC)
21
Detroit Lions (NFC)
6
Tennessee Titans (AFC)
22
New York Giants (NFC)
7
Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC)
23
St. Louis Rams (NFC)
8
Baltimore Ravens (AFC)
24
Chicago Bears (NFC)
9
New York Jets (AFC)
25
Dallas Cowboys (NFC)
10
Miami Dolphins (AFC)
26
Arizona Cardinals (NFC)
11
Kansas City Chiefs (AFC)
27
Green Bay Packers (NFC)
12
Cincinnati Bengals (AFC)
28
Philadelphia Eagles (NFC)
13
San Diego Chargers (AFC)
29
New Orleans Saints (NFC)
14
Indianapolis Colts (AFC)
30
Carolina Panthers (NFC)
15
New England Patriots (AFC)
31
San Francisco 49ers (NFC)
16
Denver Broncos (AFC)
32
Seattle Seahawks (NFC)

And this would be the draft order if the NFC had won:

Pick #
Team
Pick #
Team
1
St. Louis Rams (NFC)
17
Houston Texans (AFC)
2
Atlanta Falcons (NFC)
18
Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC)
3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC)
19
Cleveland Browns (AFC)
4
Minnesota Vikings (NFC)
20
Oakland Raiders (AFC)
5
Detroit Lions (NFC)
21
Buffalo Bills (AFC)
6
New York Giants (NFC)
22
Tennessee Titans (AFC)
7
St. Louis Rams (NFC)
23
Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC)
8
Chicago Bears (NFC)
24
Baltimore Ravens (AFC)
9
Dallas Cowboys (NFC)
25
New York Jets (AFC)
10
Arizona Cardinals (NFC)
26
Miami Dolphins (AFC)
11
Green Bay Packers (NFC)
27
Kansas City Chiefs (AFC)
12
Philadelphia Eagles (NFC)
28
Cincinnati Bengals (AFC)
13
New Orleans Saints (NFC)
29
San Diego Chargers (AFC)
14
Carolina Panthers (NFC)
30
Indianapolis Colts (AFC)
15
San Francisco 49ers (NFC)
31
New England Patriots (AFC)
16
Seattle Seahawks (NFC)
32
Denver Broncos (AFC)

This has the additional advantage of eliminating worries about teams "tanking". There's no point in intentionally losing games to get the #1 pick if you might drop to pick #17 after the Pro Bowl.

But, unlike some other other anti-tanking ideas, this system continues to give better picks to weaker teams, to help create parity.

2 comments:

Dan Russell said...

Neat idea! It would mean that the best players in each conference would be playing to make their own in-conference rivals stronger, but they would also be making their own teams better. I've never watched a Pro Bowl. These stakes might do the trick for me.

Anonymous said...

As a compromise, why not have it so that each pick alternates between Pro Bowl winner and PB loser? So, top pick goes to the winner, number two goes to the loser, and so on. Each pick by conference then is determined by W-L record. If I ran an NFL team, I'd like any chance to improve my team's draft spot, so that would be enough to make me care.

Your system is too extreme, as for parity's sake you can't have the NFL's worst team potentially picking in the lower half of the first round. Additionally, the worst teams tend to have few/no Pro Bowlers, so they wouldn't even have power over whether they make out or get screwed.