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Which League Has The Best Playoffs In Sports

This has been a controversial and highly debated topic for years. Which sports league has the best and most exciting playoffs? The playoffs are the most thrilling time of the year in sports, as many teams compete for one trophy and to be called champions.

Whether competing for the Lombardi Trophy or Stanley Cup or living that feeling of being world champions, there's something different about the playoffs that feels on a whole different level. But out of the most popular American sporting events, such as the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB playoffs, and the NCAA Football and Basketball tournaments, which sport has the best playoffs?

*Note: This is a ranking based on excitement and how enjoyable it is to watch that sport's playoffs. It does not rank which league has the best playoff format.

6. NCAA College Football Playoff

College football is really fun to watch. Future NFL stars battle it out while underdogs prove their greatness to the world. Unfortunately, the College Football Playoff has not been as exciting as many hoped it would be.

I believe that the 12-team playoff format will be great and make things exciting, but I am ranking it last based on the current four-team format that has been in place for over a decade.

The shortest playoff on the list, the College Playoff has had some crazy games over the years, including the incredible Ohio State-Georgia battle on New Year's Eve 2022 and the Texas-Washington thriller this past season.

But the National Championships have been very uncompetitive in recent years. For example, Georgia defeated TCU 65-7 in 2023. Every National Championship has been decided by double-digits every year since 2018.

5. NBA Playoffs

The NBA playoffs have one of the best formats in sports. Eight teams make the postseason in each conference, while two more have a chance for the final spot by participating in the play-in tournament. But unfortunately, the NBA is not nearly as exciting as some of the other sports on this list.

The NBA is known for being very predictable. For example, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors made the finals four straight years from 2015 to 2018. That does not even include the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, who faced each other twelve times in the NBA Finals throughout the league's history.

There have been some incredible games in recent years, but I feel like the last two great NBA Finals have been Bucks-Suns in 2021 and Raptors-Warriors in 2019. In 2019, the Bucks won their first title in 50 years, while the Raptors upset Golden State to bring a championship to Toronto for the first time.

4. NFL Playoffs

The NFL playoffs are unique compared to most sports, as every game is single-elimination and puts the stakes at an all-time high. While the league has fewer playoff games than the other three major sports leagues, it does get the most viewers.

The most thrilling game is the Super Bowl, which is usually the most-watched TV program every year as it unites huge sports fans and those who don't watch any sports and creates a lot of tension and fun.

3. MLB Playoffs

Only six teams make the MLB playoffs in each league. What is unique to baseball is that the first two rounds are best-of-three and five games. While the NBA and NHL are best-of-seven for the entire playoffs, MLB raises the bar for the first two rounds while giving the top two seeds a bye.

The MLB has had some crazy upsets in the past few years. For example, the 2023 World Series featured a fifth and sixth seed facing off after all but one of the top seeds survived their first playoff series. A three-seed or lower has made the World Series every year since 2019 except for 2020, which was affected by COVID-19.

2. NCAA Basketball Playoffs (March Madness)

March Madness is one of the most exciting playoffs to watch. With 64 teams in the beginning in a single-game elimination tournament, it brings so much chaos. Even if you know nothing about the teams or basketball, anyone can get into it, and that's why it is so much fun.

While some years might be two number-one seeds fighting it out, other years have featured massive upsets and Cinderella stories like this year. March is always magical!

1. NHL Playoffs

There is an argument to be made, but I believe the best postseason belongs to the National Hockey League. The fight is for the Stanley Cup, the trophy that is earned but not kept forever, which allows each team member's name to be written on the historic cup.

The sport is fast-paced, exciting, and fun to watch. Each year, there are also some great upsets and underdog stories. For example, the Florida Panthers were a wild-card team that made it all the way to the finals before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights. Both teams were eying their first-ever Stanley Cup victory.

To get there, the Panthers upset the Boston Bruins, who had an NHL-record 65 wins, after being down 3-1. A few years ago, the heavily favored Tampa Bay Lightning was swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets, who had never won a playoff series until then. This is one of many reasons why the best postseason experience belongs to the NHL.


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