During Wednesday’s edition of ProFootballTalk Live, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the situation presented by an 11-5 Saints team going on the road to face the 7-9 Seahawks in the wild-card round.
“This is something that we’ll look at again,” Goodell said. “We looked at it a few years ago. The strong view of the clubs was that you should win your division and if you win your division, you should be rewarded with a home game. There is another view that winning your division should automatically get you into the playoffs and into the postseason but that it should not automatically reward you with a home game. That is something that will continue to be debated. We will look at that this offseason. Let’s let the playoffs play out here a little bit and try to understand what the ramifications are rather than reacting to a specific circumstance.”
Of course, if the Seahawks beat the Saints (NBC’s Mike Mayock gives them a “fighter’s chance“), the complaints from the reseeding crowd could grow even louder. Playing at home dramatically increases Seattle’s chances of winning the game. If the playoffs had been reseeded, the Saints would be playing at home this weekend — and they’d have an even greater chance of beating the very beatable Seahawks.
On this topic, NBC’s Tony Dungy made an excellent point during Wednesday’s PFT Live. The 11-5 Jets must play at the 10-6 Colts, and the 12-4 Ravens will be playing at the 10-6 Chiefs. No one has complained about the inequity of those situations.
And given that the Packers and Eagles have the same record and that the Packers beat the Eagles in Week One, all four wild-card games feature a division winner hosting a team that, technically, had a better overall season.
So we became curious about the impact of reseeding. And we decided to take a look at what a reseeded playoff field would look like, is applied right now.
In the AFC, the seeds are: (1) Patriots; (2) Steelers; (3) Colts; (4) Chiefs; (5) Ravens; (6) Jets. In the NFC: (1) Falcons; (2) Bears; (3) Eagles; (4) Seahawks; (5) Saints; (6) Packers.
With reseeding, the AFC would look like this: (1) Patriots; (2) Steelers; (3) Ravens; (4) Jets; (5) Colts; (6) Chiefs. Basically, the home-field advantage for this weekend’s game would be flipped, making it more likely that the two teams with the better records would advance.
Here’s the revised NFC field, if we assume a bye would never be given to a non-division winner: (1) Falcons; (2) Bears; (3) Saints; (4) Packers; (5) Eagles; (6) Seahawks. Again, home-field advantage for both games played on wild-card weekend would be flipped. (A full re-seed would have resulted in the Saints getting a bye and the Bears playing at home this weekend against the Seahawks.)
That said, we prefer the current approach. The league likes to sell hope in the offseason, and the notion that finishing with the best record of only four teams results in a playoff berth and a home game makes it easier for the fans of even the most downtrodden team to piece together a plausible path to the division-round of the playoffs, which puts them only two wins from the Super Bowl.