Under the current setup of the National Football League (NFL), all 32 teams in the league compete for one singular ultimate goal during the course of the season: to win The Super Bowl.

There are no other opportunities for teams to achieve any other accolades beyond this, except for individual coach and player performance awards given out at the end of each season.

And, while this current system in the NFL works and is hugely successful, wouldn’t it be even more fun if the NFL offered an additional competition and created one more “Bowl” during the season beyond The Super Bowl?

This idea occurred to me while I was watching English football matches over the weekend.  I learned that their league system provides teams with an additional way to win, beyond that of just the ultimate championship.

For instance, while English football clubs compete with teams in their own division to win during the course of their season, they each also simultaneously participate in a competition called the FA Cup. 

Essentially, the FA Cup is a “knockout tournament” in which teams compete with others in different divisions.  The pairings are drawn at random, there are no seeds, and the draw for each round is not made until after the scheduled dates for the previous round.  The draw also determines which teams will play at home (first team drawn – home team).

Once teams are determined, FA Cup matches are played in a series of “rounds” whereby teams eliminate their opposing team with a win.  This eventually leads to semi-finals and then finals.

Further, the FA Cup is a very prestigious event.  Championship matches are played at London’s Wembley Stadium and winning teams are presented with a trophy, known as the “FA Cup”, which they hold until the following year’s final.

This FA Cup idea is great, because it creates a way for a lesser ranked club to have a chance to beat a higher ranked club – an impossible achievement for some if this Cup was not established.  It also creates new rivalries within other divisions, and ultimately, more tension-filled matches and diversity for English football as a sport and for the fans.

I think this would be a great idea for the NFL to adopt.  The benefits would be similar and help generate more money for each club since the Super Bowl is already such a smash hit globally.


Instead of a “Cup”, the NFL version would be a “Bowl”.  Pairings could start with the 32 teams as follows:

  • Round 1 – 16 games played – Losers eliminated (Team pairings drawn at random);
  • Round 2 – Winners of Round 1 play in 8 games total – Losers eliminated  (Team pairings drawn at random);
  • Round 3 – Winners of Round 2 play in 4 games total – Losers eliminated (Winners of Round 2) Team pairings drawn at random);
  • Semi-Finals – Winners of Round 3 play in 2 games (Team pairings drawn at random);
  • Finals – (Home/Away drawn at random).

All games would be played during the regular season.


This new competition or “Bowl” could work in the NFL, because only the 2 top Bowl teams would play an additional 5 games during the year, which would be added to the team’s regular schedule.  This could help avoid any anxiety a team/players may have about playing additional games in an already grueling schedule.

I also think that like the FA Cup, having all pairings drawn at random would add a level of excitement to the competition and allow teams playing well at different days a chance to win.

Finally, a suggestion for making the new Bowl more worthwhile is to somehow link it with the road to the Super Bowl.  For example, the two teams who make it to the new Bowl Final could be automatically entered into the post-season for the Super Bowl, no matter what happens in their regular season.   This would also avoid any negativity the Pro Bowl suffers from: being taken seriously.

The only question now, is what to call this additional “Bowl”?  Any suggestions?

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