WASHINGTON – In the days leading up to Wild Card Weekend, there was some discussion surrounding whether the NFL should change the way playoff seeding works.
The reasoning was simple: Teams like the 8-7-1 Green Bay Packers shouldn’t be rewarded for winning a crappy division by enjoying home-field advantage against teams like the 12-4 San Francisco 49ers, whose greatest sin is sharing space in the NFC West with the juggernaut Seattle Seahawks.
So the thought is, why not reseed the playoffs and send that game — and games like it — to the team with the better record?
I totally understand that rationale. But I disagree.
Profootballtalk.com makes a compelling argument for a potential reseeding, but I don’t necessarily think the current alignment is broken.Yes, we’ve seen three examples of lopsided matchups in the last four years. But I would make the case that those games were determined by far more than just the location in which they were played.
The 2010 example of the 11-5 Saints losing to the 7-9 Seahawks had more to do with New Orleans having a crappy defense (remember that epic Beast Mode TD run?) than playing on the road.
The 12-4 Steelers losing to the 8-8 Broncos in 2011? Yes, they had to play without Ryan Clark because of the Denver altitude (which wouldn’t have been an issue had the game been played in Pittsburgh) but if you call an all-out blitz on 3rd down in overtime (even if the QB is Tim Tebow), you deserve to lose (especially when the QB beating you on that play is Tim Tebow).
Furthermore, reseeding based on record basically eliminates the upside of winning your division. To me, you’re trading off one disservice for another. Yes, in theory, a team with a gaudy record should host a playoff game. But then the cardinal sin becomes an overload of one division in the postseason.
For example…would it really be fair if we bumped the 8-win Packers from the playoffs this year in favor of the 10-6 Arizona Cardinals? Are two wins really worth swapping out a team with winning records in their division and their conference for a 3rd place team that went 2-4 in their division and 6-6 in- conference?
Now that would be a travesty.
Further validating the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” end of the debate, three out of four road teams won during Wild Card Weekend. Plus, two of those three teams sport better records than the division-winner they beat.
In our society that often overreacts to perceived slights, it’s hard for some folks to live with this reality: Sometimes the best course of action is to leave well enough alone.
But if you feel like you absolutely have to do something, read the Wild Card Recap:
Is there any surprise that Andrew Luck authored the second-biggest comeback in NFL playoff history in just his second career playoff game? Or that Andy Reid’s questionable play-calling and/or time management were on display on the other sideline?
For those keeping score at home, this makes the first-ever road win for New Orleans in six tries. I kinda think they’re over the whole Bountygate thing now.
As for Philly…this makes four straight playoff losses and a second straight one- and-done for an NFC East champion. Eagles fans should just be happy to have won a division coming off a 4-12 nightmare…but have you ever tried to console that fanbase? It rarely ends well.
It’s hard to tell if this game was the result of San Diego enjoying life without Norv Turner or if this is another in a long line of choke jobs by Cincinnati. Given Andy Dalton has thrown 6 picks against only one TD in his three career postseason losses, and Marvin Lewis is now a Schottenheimer-esque 0-5 in the playoffs — I tend to believe the latter.
All week, I literally laughed out loud at people giving Green Bay the advantage in this game because of the sub-zero temperatures. I mean, aren’t people aware the Packers QB (Aaron Rodgers) is from California and San Fran’s QB (Colin Kaepernick) is from Wisconsin?
Oh, and the most intimidating homefield advantage in pro football is now officially the stuff of legend. The Pack were 13-0 at Lambeau Field from 1939 to 2001. Since then? They’re 3-5.