Blog Entry

'Hawks give NFL good reason to fix playoff seeds

Posted on: January 2, 2011 11:53 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2011 11:56 pm
Posted by Will Brinson

First of all, hats off to the Seattle Seahawks for showing up on Sunday night and beating St. Louis. They're 7-9, but they're the NFC West champions and they're going to the playoffs.

No one can take that away from them.

But someone (like, say Roger Goodell) can stop people from being forced to watch a team with a losing record host a home playoff game ever again. And it needs to happen as soon as the final whistle for the Super Bowl blows, because, frankly, it's embarrassing that the Saints will travel to Seattle next week.

I'm actually not staunchly opposed to the idea that if you win your division, you get in the playoffs. Andy and I have argued at length over this during pretty much every podcast since it became apparent someone was going to limp into the playoffs with a terrible record out of the NFC West. And, for me at least, the whole "it's cyclical" explanation works fine.

Every team -- except for the 49ers -- in this putrid division has been in a Super Bowl at least once over the last decade, and San Francisco has more than enough historical success to make up for their recent terrible play.

It's also clear that the Cardinals are a quarterback away from not being horrible, and you could say the same for the Niners. The Rams could dominate the division once they find some actual playmakers who have hands, and the Seahawks, well, heck, they already won their division title.

So let's not go and blow things up and simply take the top-six teams in each conference, because that defeats the entire purpose of having divisions.

But it's absolutely imperative that the NFL determine some manner to re-seed the playoffs beginning in the next season. There's no possible way to say that the Seahawks are better than either the Packers or Saints, and yet New Orleans, who didn't fall short of the No. 1 overall NFC seed, actually has to travel to Seattle on a short week to play in front of a rowdy crowd.

Could the Seahawks win? Sure. It's the NFL and anyone can win. But that doesn't mean that seeding teams in a blatantly inaccurate manner based on an antiquated notion that winning your division equals a home game is the way keep going.

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Since: Apr 24, 2007
Posted on: January 3, 2011 11:20 am

'Hawks give NFL good reason to fix playoff seeds

There's nothing to change.  The Seahawks won their division.  If anything, the Saints and Packers should be grateful for a wildcard system that allows them to play despite not winning their division. 

Since: Oct 12, 2006
Posted on: January 3, 2011 11:12 am

'Hawks give NFL good reason to fix playoff seeds

The NFL should make two pretty simple fixes:

1) No team can make the playoffs w/ a losing record (e.g. 8-8 is fine).  If a divisional winner is 7-9 or worse, then the highest ranked non-playoff team would take their place (in this case the Giants).

2) Teams should automatically be re-seeded upon entering the playoffs... thus an inferior division winner would have to travel to the superior wildcard (e.g. Sea travelling to NO).

I don't care about the historical arguments anymore.  Yeah, the divisional-centric setup has been in place for a long while.  And people say "well, just win your division."  But it's not fair... and not good for the sport... that in any given year superior teams will be shut out of the playoffs because substantially inferior teams (w/ a losing record) are in poor divisions.  I'm not even talking about merging the two conferences... there's enough parity there that it's not an issue.  But seriously, who wants to watch NO maul Sea next week... and why should a superior NO team have to travel the distance?  It literally makes winning less important than being in a poor division.  Further, it would reduce the chance that teams would take off the last few weeks b/c a divisional winner would still have to fight to have a home game.  Divisional games are still important because you play your division 6 times... and because divisional games tend to be the tie-breaker most often used between playoff teams.  But this system would simply result in more compelling football... and it would drastically reduce the need for an 18 game schedule.

Since: Jan 7, 2009
Posted on: January 3, 2011 11:06 am

'Hawks give NFL good reason to fix playoff seeds

I have no problem with division teams with crappy records making the playoffs as long as such record is greater than .500.  There should be a rule that you need to be better than .500 to make the playoffs.  Any division winner with a .500 record or worse should be replaced by a third wild card team.

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: January 3, 2011 10:52 am

'Hawks give NFL good reason to fix playoff seeds

It's happened once-- ONCE- ever.  I don't think it's a problem in need of desperate fixing.  Especially because the flipside is true too:  A team that DOESN'T win their division should never host a Week 1 playoff game. 

Say you've got two teams going into their season finale playing each other to win their division-- kinda changes the tone of the game if they're BOTH gonna host a playoff game the following week, no matter what happens.  It takes some of the weight off of winning your division.

I just think it opens a can of worms, because it doesn't clarify other problems that already exist, and go against parity, when say Seattle goes 11-5 in a crappy NFC West, and Philly goes 10-6 and ends up second in their division in a super strong year for Dallas, Philly, NYG, and Washington.  Hypothetically, everyone on earth that year thinks Philly was better, and to add to the fun, let's say they played Seattle that year and beat them by 20 pts, so how is that any more fair to have them head to Seattle for the 1st week of the playoffs, than the Saints heading their this year?

Plus, realistically, there's already a solution in place. If the Saints don't want to be a visiting team the first week, they should win their division.  That's what winning your division is all about-- controlling your own destiny as much as you can.  Otherwise, why even HAVE divisions?

Divisions themselves are a manner of helping tier the teams come playoff time.

So yeah, when this huge, unbearable problem happens 3 or 4 times in a row (or just a 2nd time EVER), let's talk about the major problem then, maybe?

Since: Jun 22, 2008
Posted on: January 3, 2011 10:51 am

'Hawks give NFL good reason to fix playoff seeds

What i do have a problem with is the divisional round format.  If the Ravens and Colts win this weekend,as an example, the 12-4 Ravens go to New England while the 10-6 Colts go to Pittsburgh. That is ridiculous. And lets pretend Green Bay beats Philly while Seattle stuns New Orleans.

You guessed it -- the Falcons reward for winning their conference is 10-6 red hot Green Bay while Chicago gets 7-9 Seattle.

That's got to change.

But this issue is a direct result of the fact that division winners are guaranteed home playoff games.  You could wait and see who wins the wild card round and then swap the teams and have Baltimore play Pittsburgh and have the Colts play the Patriots to avoid this scenario, but then what was the point of seeding in the first place? The only way to change it would be to reseed based on record, and if we reseeded based on record, then the AFC playoff picture would be:

1 Patriots
2 Steelers
3 Ravens
4 Jets
5 Colts
6 Chiefs

and then you wouldn't have a team with a better record (The Ravens) playing a higher seed than a team with a worse record (The Colts) because no matter who wins the wildcard games, the lowest remaining seed will not have a better record than the highest remaining seed.

The system you are defending creates the issue you are upset about.

Since: Jan 3, 2011
Posted on: January 3, 2011 10:51 am

'Hawks give NFL good reason to fix playoff seeds

Fix playoff seedings? It doesn't need fixing because nothing is wrong.

It used to be Division winners only. Then best aginst worst and 2nd best against 3rd best devision records matched up. Of course the reason we have wildcard teams (considered second best) was to offer a couple more games of income, and division winners with the 3rd and 4th best records are forced to play an extra game while the best two division records get an extra week of rest.

So like always - if you want a home game win your division.

Now lets take a look at the 7 - 9 Seahawks. 10 non-conference games they won 3 and lost 7. Of the 3 they won they played 2 teams with winning records inlcuding the Chicago Bears on the road. Non-Conference teams combined for a record of 88 wins - 72 losses. Seahawks were 4 - 2 in conference. They played 4 teams headed to the playoffs. (The top 6 non-conference teams played combined for 65 wins and 31 losses)

Now lets take a look at Kansas City at 10 - 6. They won 1 game all year against a team with a winning record. Just 1 win against any team with a winning record all year! Of their 10 non-conference games they only played 1 team (Indy) with a winning record and they lost. Conference they were 2 - 4 with 1 win against the 9 - 7 San Diego Chargers. Their only win against a winning record this year. Non-conference record was a combined 64 wins - 96 losses. (The top 6 non-conference teams played combined for 44 wins and 52 losses)

No nothing needs fixing. It works just like it is supposed to. Win your division and host a home game. Miss by a smidge and get a second chance to go to a Super Bowl!!

Since: Jun 22, 2009
Posted on: January 3, 2011 10:42 am

'Hawks give NFL good reason to fix playoff seeds

Thank you Will Brinson for being the 110th pundit to point this out.  I'm scouring this for a nugget of fresh perspective, which is not to be found.  Speaking for fans who live in NFC West cities, if they would allow me to do that, we all know it's an embarassment, and I haven't heard many who are opposed to the reseeding idea, provided that the division winner gets in.  If that team is .500, or even sub-.500, then too bad. 

Since: Dec 3, 2007
Posted on: January 3, 2011 10:27 am

'Hawks give NFL good reason to fix playoff seeds

Interesting idea of throwing all the teams into a single tournament allowing two teams from the same conference to play in the Superbowl.  It breaks with tradition, but most tradition is gone anymore.  Heck, the tradition of tackling the QB is gone so why not!

The only thing I would change is throw all the teams into a single bracket right away.  Why wait until eight teams are left?  In fact, take my earlier idea of adding more wildcards.  Then have the AFC division winners host the NFC wildcards and vice versa.  Then don't re-seed based on who won (like the NCAA tournament).

Or, as I said in my original post.... Make NO Changes!  The NFL playoffs are great as they are!

Since: Dec 1, 2010
Posted on: January 3, 2011 10:05 am

'Hawks give NFL good reason to fix playoff seeds

Will, if the Saints are the better team, they will win no matter where they play. You can't say if they win their divison they should be in the playoffs and till argue they shouldn't get a home game.  The Giants and saints would argue with you on both accounts.  Leave the system the way it is.  If you are good enough to win it all, it doesn't matter where you play.  Recently the wild card teams have out perfpormed. 

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: January 3, 2011 9:52 am

'Hawks give NFL good reason to fix playoff seeds

RCR, in the scenario you describe, Seattle would play at Atlanta. It isn't like the NCAA Basketball tournament. The lowest remaining seeds play the highest remaining seed in week 2 of the NFL playoffs. So, in effect, your premise wouldn't happen.

Changing the system would be tinkering too much. I'm an Eagles fan. I would much rather them play Seattle than the Packers, but it isn't going to happen.

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