Revised playoff seeding is long overdue

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The NFL has a major playoff flaw, that continues to hide in plain sight — with no apparent desire to fix it.

Nine years ago, the 7-9 Seahawks hosted the 11-5 Saints in the wild-card round. Seattle “earned” a home game in the postseason by being the best of four really bad teams. The Saints, who finished in second place in the NFC South behind the 13-3 Falcons, had to travel to one of the toughest places to play.

The Seahawks won, prompting some to say that the outcomes proved that they were the better team. The better explanation was that, if the game had been played in New Orleans, the Saints would have won.

This year, the Seahawks could be burned by the rule from which they benefited. Either Seattle or San Francisco likely will finish 13-3 or 12-4, and whoever doesn’t win the NFC West will have to travel either Dallas or Philadelphia, one of which will win the division, possibly with a record of 8-8 or worse.

With the Cowboys currently leading the NFC East by one game, a win over the Eagles in Week 16 could clinch the division for Dallas, allowing the Cowboys to rest their starters in Week 17, which the 49ers and Seahawks engage in a bare-knuckled, winner-take-all fight for the NFC West crown, with the loser limping to Dallas — and possibly losing there, too.

It shouldn’t be that way. The four best teams from each conference should host playoff games. While winning a division should guarantee a spot in the playoffs, it shouldn’t guarantee a home game.

Maybe the rule should be that the division winner has to have a winning record to host a wild-card game. Maybe the division winner should be required to generate a record of 10-6 or better.

Whatever the formula, the current one is grossly unfair. The four worst, most dysfunctional teams could all be in the same division, and one of them will be guaranteed to host a playoff game, no matter how much better the fifth seed in the conference may be.

What’s the argument against it? That winning a division is so special and magical that a home game must be granted to at least one team from pre-determined each four-team cluster? That it’s tradition?

Whatever the arguments may be, fairness dictates a different approach. The Cowboys or Eagles have no business hosting a home game this year in the playoffs, and the 49ers or Seahawks should not be going on the road. Just like the Saints shouldn’t have gone on the road nine years ago.

So here’s the question: Will the owners ever take up this issue? If they ever do, how will they justify embracing the status quo?

One of the 32 teams should propose the rule change, putting it on the agenda for March. And the owners, if they choose not to change the rules, should be ready to explain why the ultimate meritocracy determines playoff positioning based on factors other than merit as reflected by wins versus losses.

185 responses to “Revised playoff seeding is long overdue

  1. It’s never going to be perfect. Just leave it alone.
    They are making way too many changes to the game as it is.
    Not all of them are good. This Pass Interference Review rules is a debacle.

  2. The better explanation? More like the better assumption.

    A reasonable assumption for sure, but it’s still an assumption.

    P.S. – where’s the ‘fumbles through the end zone are touchbacks’ therapy session hosted at this week? 😉

  3. What you are proposing is only for who ever wins the NFC East, the other 5 top teams in the NFC could all end up with the same record, so the vikings,packers,49ers and seahawks will still be screwed by your suggestions, in the end it doesn’t matter unless you go NBA style and based off conference and not division. But that would be dumb and take away the division battles, it would water down the game and take away meaning from a lot of games. The only thing the NFL should be worried about is that the 2 biggest markets in the US will probably not have one team in the playoffs and the biggest division in the NFL could put a 7-9 team into the playoffs.

  4. It makes sense, too much sense, which is why the NFL will either never change it or botch it completely.

    One could also argue that being the best of a loser division shouldn’t get you a playoff berth.

  5. Why should an 8-8 team that “won” their lousy division get a home game over a quality team that is 12-4 or 13-3? Why is that fair? The four teams with the best records in the conference should get the home games. Period. They earned it. Change the freaking rule, NFL, because the one you have right now sucks.

  6. This is the same argument that can be used to say they should get rid of the NFC and AFC because it’s happened many times that the best 2 teams are in the same conference and in turn cannot play each other in the Super Bowl.

  7. A weak wild card team could go 10-6 in part by going 4-0 against two cellar dwelling teams in its own division, while a division winner goes 9-7 the same year in part because it emerges from a strong division where the other three teams all go 8-8.

  8. The only way the owners will change this is if the playoffs are expanded (after the regular season gets expanded). Even then, it will be a close vote, and might take a few votes over the years to pass.

  9. The patriots deserve credit for being great for 20 years. But it’s also meant that the rest of the division has zero chance to host a home playoff game. Why should only three teams have to deal with that?

    I get it “if you beat them you won’t have to deal with it.” Thanks, I’ll get right on that.

  10. One counter-argument is that the 4 teams with the best records are not necessarily the 4 best teams anyway.
    Let’s say a division is so terrible that the one decent team there is essentially spotted 6 wins. They finish 11-5 while a division winner from a really tough division is 10-6 because they played a harder schedule. Which team is better?
    The system is never going to be perfect. You want a home game, win your division. Every 4 years or so a clearly superior wildcard team will have to go on the road. If they can’t win, they weren’t that great anyway.

  11. If they go to a 17 game schedule, that would be a great opportunity to resolve this to a degree. Make it a rule that you have to be over .500 to qualify for the playoffs. If everyone in the division is 8-9 or worse, no one in that division goes and the spot goes to a team with a winning record. We can all this the Jeff Fisher Mediocrity Rule.

  12. Lets be honest, how often does this happen? 99% of the time the division winners are the best teams in football. If a team as it’s record says it shouldn’t matter where they play. Win the division and you get to host a game, period.

  13. This ‘issue’ only rears it’s ugly head now about once a decade. So the current format has been working by and large. Yes, once in a while it turns over on its head, but the current format is simple and straightforward. If you start incorporating formulas into it making it a calculation, it makes it too convoluted.

    Short answer: If you want a home game, win your division.

  14. The realization that his Vikings have no chance of winning the NFC North is what prompted this article.

    The team that is the champion of each division in the NFL should be AND IS afforded at least one home game in the playoffs. Full stop!

    This is not up for debate and only seems to be brought up when a fan feels his or her team is not going to win their division, but may be in the playoffs and have to play on the road.

  15. I’m a Niners fan, and it’s cool being 10-2 and it’s cool that Seattle is 10-2. I hope it comes down to the last game in Seattle for the #1 seed. That being said, if Seattle or San Fran has to travel to Dallas then so be it. If you want the #1 seed, win your games. Too many changes are going to hurt the game. Want the #1 seed? Be the best team.

  16. I agree that the whole division winner seeding is arbitrary. I mean all 6 seeds in the playoffs are determined by wins and losses. 1 to 4 are determined by who has the best won-loss record and the tiebreaker procedure for teams win the same record. Seeds 5 and 6 are similarly decided by won-loss records and tiebreakers in case of equal records.

    The one that sticks out like a sore thumb is the #4 seed who is by definition the division winner with the worst record. Ron Rivera said his best coaching was when he won the division in 2014 7-8-1 and of course hosted the 11-5 Cardinals and beat them.

    Patently unfair. Just make the division winner have a winning record, at least 9-7, to host the game. Otherwise they are on the road.

  17. Well, I understand what you’re saying here, but there are also times when the teams that “limp” into the playoffs might not always suck as bad as their record shows.

    Sometimes those teams just had a really tough full season schedule. Maybe the team with the awesome record had a super easy schedule. (*cough* patriots this season)

    It’s fine as is, even if sometimes you have scenarios where it really is a crap division crapping out a turd into the playoff bowl.

    If the so called great team can’t get out of the wild card round, what does that say for them anyway?

  18. Before we change the playoff format, lets address the blue whale in the room (larger than elephant). The refs continue to make bad calls on a weekly basis and seem to be picking on certain teams. Roger and the refs are still targeting the Saints on a weekly basis for questioning the Shield. Refs hated the new PI rule caused by their own incompetence that was pushed by Saints. Check the stats, you will see that bias is indeed in play and there is no discipline administered to biased, incompetent refs. Saints are winning despite the bias clearly displayed by the refs. I used to say “I am not one to blame ref”.

  19. “The better explanation was that, if the game had been played in New Orleans, the Saints would have won.”

    That’s a terrible explanation and pure conjecture because you can’t assume a team would win just because you want that outcome to help your argument.

  20. I tend to agree it should change, but to make a case for why it shouldn’t: What if the four very best teams are all in one division. And the next four best are all in another division. And your division plays both of those divisions in inter-divisional play?

    That represents half the schedule against the hardest teams. You might be a very good 8-8 or 9-7 with a brutal schedule, yet lose out to a 10-6 or 11-5 team that had cupcakes in inter-divisional play.

    The division championship berth is apples-to-apples. If you do better than the other three teams who played a virtually identical schedule to yours, then you’re in with a home game.

  21. Some divisions are stronger than others and that is why division winners should get in and be the higher seed. The wild card teams did not win their division.

    Look at the Patriots, they have dominated a weak division with a good team while other divisions are much tougher like the NFC West this year.

  22. No it works fine. Division winners and wildcard…Talk about college football playoffs…..5 power conference champions but not all 5 go to the playoffs??? thats a problem…..didn’t win your conference or even play in the championship game? its ok…Ohio State your still in the playoff….that is a problem

  23. “The Saints, who finished in second place in the NFC South behind the 13-3 Falcons, had to travel to one of the toughest places to play.”
    ——

    Unless they were 0-8 on the road, it wasnt that tough…

  24. I don’t mind the idea suggested in the article. But I still kind of like it the way it is. Division games equate for just under 40% of teams games and teams are often built to beat around how to win in the division. That deserves a home playoff game and if the other team is so much better indicated by their record, they should win on the road. Maybe that division winner had a much tougher SOS, or more key injuries than the wildcard team and that is a big reason for a 2-3 game difference. Don’t hate the idea, just don’t love it.

  25. What’s the argument against it?
    – In some years, a good division may produce multiple 9-7 teams because they are beating each other up by having to play those good teams twice;
    – The rule, if “unfair,” is unfair across the board and rarely happens;
    – Win your division. Wild card teams that get in with a great record are luck yo be in at all, but for the wild card.

  26. They should add two more teams to the playoffs and everyone plays week one. They should seed by overall record (with strength of schedule, conference, division, etc. taken into consideration). THEN, and this is where it gets good, #1 seed gets to pick which team they play. Then #2 seed picks their opponent from remaining pool and so on until the final matchup is dictated. You continue this method for each round until you get to the final two. This would be amazing on so many levels.

  27. whoever doesn’t win the NFC West will have to travel either Dallas or Philadelphia

    Or Washington, which I wouldn’t find too surprising considering how terrible the other two teams are

  28. who’s complaining about this? Same people complaining about the forward fumble out the end zone? If they wanted a home game win the division. If you don’t it’s your fault. If the 11-5 Saints were so much better they should have had no trouble beating a 7-9 team that had seemingly stumbled backwards into a playoff spot.
    I can’t remember and I’m to lazy to look it up to see how were their respective strength of schedules. Perhaps the Saints played an easier schedule, but I doubt it do to how dreadful the NFC West was that year.

  29. The current system makes divisional games that much more important than the other games on a team’s schedule. That way SIX regularly scheduled games for any team are vitally important to watch. It also increases the intensity of divisional rivalry which is something fans tend to love.

    If a team doesn’t like having a superior record but has to travel because it didn’t win it’s division….the solution is simple; WIN YOUR DIVISION.

    I say this as a 49er’s fan who’s team could very well end up with a superior record to the NFC East division winner; yet would have to travel there in the playoffs if they don’t win the NFC West.

  30. Everyone calling for this doesn’t understand scheduling. The schedule a team plays in one division is very different then a schedule for a team in another. They can’t be compared. The NFC North has played an easy schedule and therefore have two teams with great records. The divisional winner should host a game if you want the season to mean anything. If you can’t compare schedules because the opponents are all different it doesn’t make sense to award these wild card winners a home game. The record is only comparable when the opponents are the same.

  31. I find myself, for once, in complete agreement with Florio. Division winners still make the playoffs but not a guarenteed 4 seed or better.

  32. Its good the way it is. Life’s not fair, and this media desire to try to make everything “fair” is beyond ridiculous. There is nothing unfair about the requirements to host a playoff game and the requirement to host a playoff game is simple, win your division. On day 1, every team has the chance to seize the opportunity, and if they don’t, well then that is on them, they didn’t earn it.

    The only way things will change is if something egregious happens, like a division winner with a 3-13 record (splitting each divisional series and losing every other game) is not only going to the playoffs but hosting a game. Or the opposite, all 4 teams in a division finish 13-3 (splitting division series and winning every other game). I could only imagine the media eruption if one of these two, while highly unlikely but not impossible scenarios were to happen. A 3-13 team in the playoffs and hosting a game or a 13-3 team missing the playoffs because they lost a 4-team tiebreaker for division title/seeding…

  33. You can make a similar ridiculous argument about how teams from one conference made it to the playoffs and a team in the other conference didn’t make it. Ex. Why do crap teams from the AFC (NFC) make it over teams in the other conference who have better records?

    The way it is set up is known to everyone in advance of the season. All teams know the importance of winning the division and its not hidden, so there is no problem.

  34. The Seahawks are undefeated on the road this season. I’m okay with going to Dallas or Philly. We’ll stomp them in their own stadium just as easily as we’ll stomp them here.

    Oh, and New Orleans wouldn’t have won that playoff game at home either. The Seahawks were clearly playing with vastly more passion in that game. That was the game where it became clear that Pete Carroll had installed a very new culture, and one that stood in strong contrast to New Orleans, who came into the game clearly buying their own hype, expecting an easy win. They were uninspired and looked like they were playing at 25%. The Seahawks played lights-out. Hasselbeck knew he was playing his last game as a Seahawk and Beast Mode wanted to make his mark on the NFL.

    I’ll never forget Hasselbeck taking his kid on his shoulders and shaking hands with every single fan who came down to wish him goodbye. While the Saints trudged to their locker rooms, Seattle fans were losing their minds because we knew we had a good thing developing with Carroll. And it was just so great to wish Hass goodbye. Love that guy.

  35. They don’t play the same schedules so you can’t conclusively know who is the better team just by their record. If you abandon the divisions and go to a 15-game schedule, you could have each team play everyone in their conference once and then seed the top-6 records and get a fair playoff seeding. But that’s not as much fun as having divisions and rivalries. Best to leave it as is.

  36. Too bad if a team with a better record misses out. The number one goal for an NFL team is to win their division. If anything, Wildcards are the key disruption in the current format.
    How about like the Patriots (not this year so much) but normally playing in such a weak division that their chances for home field are always skewed in their favor?

  37. Give Roger the Clown enough time and he will ruin the game we all love. Never add more playoff teams or season will be meaningless. Same with winning a division. Just because one year a fluke team makes it is no reason to change. Adding games to schedule will injure more players and water down the game.

    The NFL is good as it is. Leave it alone Roger you clown.

  38. Sigh, just leave it alone. Stop changing rules. Look at all the people who cried about pass interference replay, and we see how that turned out.

    Win your division and get a home game, that’s the point of having divisions. It makes the division games more valuable, which fuels rivalries, which keeps fans interested.

  39. To win your division with a 7-9 or 8-8 record means you played in a garbage division and got 6 easy games, and are probably worse than your record shows, menaing you are really a 6-10 or 7-9 team.
    No way that should make teh playoffs.
    The problem is with many small divisions “everyone is equal” and “everyone gets a chance”.

    I’d just take the top teams based on their record and ignore the division winner status. Use the division willer as a tie breaker.

  40. Division winners are justly rewarded. If San Francisco or Seattle can’t go on the road and win so be it. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. It comes down to getting hot, peaking, staying healthy and a bit of luck in determining who is crowned the World Champion.

  41. The other side of this argument could be that if you are in a very tough division and maybe go 10-6 but still won your division….why would it be fair to play on the road against a wildcard team that may be in a very weak division? The NFC West was like that a few years ago. I still think winning your division should count for something.

  42. For years every other team had to face the Patriots who reign over a crappy division, racking up slice of pie wins against crappy Miami, jet and bill teams. In the NFC Seattle would do the same. In the NFC East, it tends to be a war of attrition, so what about the 9-7 Giants going all the way on the road and beating the Pat’s to takethe bowl? You’re the only one who seems to take umbridge with this. LEAVE IT ALONE because you cannot reseat the playoff based on record because that record does not correctly reflect a proper strength of schedule.

  43. Some divisions are really tough, and some teams with a worse record do deserve the home game. Win your division & earn a home game. It’s simple. Each teams schedules are different and so records may not always reflect how good the team actually is. There will never be a perfect system, so do not change what’s already in place… because it works, just not perfectly.

  44. Saints fan here, and I strongly disagree with the premise. You beat your three rivals to win the division with a less than optimal record, it means you likely won more games than you lost within the division against your fiercest rivals whom you play twice a year. You earned it and should get the reward of a home playoff game. In 2010, the Saints were one of the few recent SB winners not named the Pats to make the playoffs next year. Saints were 11-5 in 2010 but had lost 2 of 3 coming into the Seattle game. Took a 17-0 lead in the second quarter but couldn’t hold it. Kudos to Seattle, shame on us. That’s life. Am looking forward to who wins the NFC West. And, yes, wildcard teams DO win the Super Bowl – see the 2006 Steelers. There’s enough wrong but this rule is right. Keep as is

  45. This issue has two sides that don’t agree. When that’s the case, it can sometimes be helpful to figure out how we got here, and do a little math along the way (yay math!).

    For much of modern NFL history, there were 3 divisions in each conference, each with 5 teams. I think back then, it wasn’t a problem very often. If you were the best of five teams, you were close enough to being in the top 3 that the issue didn’t pop up in an average year. It happened, but not often.

    Boiling it down to math let’s you see why it’s occurring more often now. Back then, if you were tops in your division (1/5), you were likely as well to be better than the 8 teams that didn’t win the other two divisions (8/10). Top 20% in your division usually made you better than the bottom 80% in 2 other divisions. Now the math looks like being top 25% in your division needs to make you better than the bottom 75% in each of 3 divisions.

    Realistically, this is as bad as it’s going to get. If the NFL expands, they’ll add a 5th team to divisions long before they add a new division. So the best question I think really is, if this is as bad as it’s going to get, can you live with it?

    For me, I can. I prefer the tradition of rewarding the team that battles it out through 6 games in-division and wins it. One of the best parts of the NFL design is the importance of every single game. This rule helps make 9ers @ Seahawks on 12/29 appointment television. That game is going to be one of the highest rated TV shows of 2019. Both the NFL and the networks can pretty much bank on that a month in advance.

    So maybe your method is more fair. Maybe. And maybe that really isn’t the criteria they are using to evaluate the process.

  46. “The better explanation was that, if the game had been played in New Orleans, the Saints would have won.”

    No its not, that’s nothing but a guess or assumption with no real evidence to support what could have happened there.

    And no, its not time to redo playoff seeding. Division teams always play each other touch, even if they are not good during any given season. Stop trying to turn the NFL into the crappy NBA

  47. randomtopics says:
    December 4, 2019 at 11:29 am
    Look at the Patriots, they have dominated a weak division with a good team while other divisions are much tougher like the NFC West this year.
    —————————-
    Is the NFC West really tougher? Yes, there are two teams with good records but lets take a look at the teams they’ve beaten.

    SEA: Bengals, Steelers, Cardinals, Rams, Browns, Falcons, Bucs, 49ers, Eagles
    SF: Bengals, Steelers, Bucs, Browns, Cardinals(x2), Panthers, Redskins, Packers

    Both teams have beaten Steelers when they were slumping hard at the start of the season after losing Ben. Other than that, they’ve each beaten 1 team over .500, with SEA’s win being against the 49ers. SF has one quality win on the season, against the Packers.

    The playoffs are an imperfect science. Until you do away with divisions and how they match up against other divisions, you can’t mess with the way that the playoff seeding occurs. Then you’ll have college rankings determining who gets to go when some analyst thinks they are better than a different team.

  48. One of the reasons the NFL is so popular is division games and the fact that they mean a lot.

    Suggesting that the NFL should attempt to make winning your division less important should be taken as nothing more than a ignorant thought.

  49. Those of you who want to change the current format to the top teams with the best record should understand this completely abolishes divisions. There would be no reason for them to exist. Teams with 8-8/7-9 records have rarely won any division titles in any playoff format since the merger. Knee jerk reaction for no reason…….

  50. Stop trying to get rules changed for every little thing that you don’t like each season. Moronic opinion pieces like these are the reason why watching an NFL game is less entertaining than ever.
    If you win your division you get a playoff bid and home field against a wildcard, period.

  51. Why is is this just an NFC question ? Buffalo hosts KC if things stay the way the are in AFC but I suspect that would not be a fun an argument.

  52. This is a dumb argument, and will always be a dumb argument. Divisional positioning and rivalries are one of the most compelling subplots of any NFL season precisely because winning your division is so important. The old adage stands – if you want to host a playoff game, win your division.

    If you just want to move completely away from in-season nuance and competitiveness then just propose no playoffs and have the champion crowned based on regular season performance like the premier league. That would be a lot of fun. Why force the “best” team to prove it by winning games over “worse” teams in the postseason? Everyone hates upsets, postseason gamesmanship, the impact of the elements, and watching players respond to increased pressure. Or better yet just run a computer simulation in September and forget playing the games at all.

    There are so many things wrong with the league. Playoff seeding is great as is. Leave it alone.

  53. If you’re playing a team with 4 less wins than you in the playoffs, it shouldn’t matter where you play. If you’re the better team you win that game – apparently the Saints weren’t that team. Quit crying.

  54. If the NFL played a balanced schedule then a reasonable case could be made to revise playoff seeding. But it doesn’t because it can’t, hence the past 2 generations of building up the importance of divisional play. The occasional team with a worse record than their opponent hosting a playoff game is no reason to diminish what the NFL has spent many years successfully emphasizing. The league gets a lot of things wrong, this isn’t one of them.

  55. Before we change the playoff format, lets address the blue whale in the room (larger than elephant). The refs continue to make bad calls on a weekly basis and seem to be picking on certain teams. Roger and the refs are still targeting the Saints on a weekly basis for questioning the Shield. Refs hated the new PI rule caused by their own incompetence that was pushed by Saints. Check the stats, you will see that bias is indeed in play and there is no discipline administered to biased, incompetent refs. Saints are winning despite the bias clearly displayed by the refs. I used to say “I am not one to blame ref”.

    3 weeks ago I would agree with you. But I happened to be watching the Panthers-Saints game 2 weeks ago. The Panthers were in position to kick a field goal that would put them up by 3 with about 30 seconds left on the clock. But on the attempt, the Panthers’ center’s head was shoved into the ground before he could raise it(Which is illegal), causing Slye to just barely miss the field goal and giving Brees the ball with 30 seconds on the clock. No Call. Yes, I have seen the Saints cheated before, but they are not like this team that the NFL pays the refs to cheat out of wins.

  56. A revision would make divisions pointless and take away meaningful games during the regular season.

    It sucks that a .500 team will get the advantage of a home game but even then the better team should win in the end. Skip Bayless seems to believe the Cowboys will turn on a switch and beat the 49ers\Seahawkd\Packers

  57. I could not disagree more. It’s awesome the way it is. You have to get through your division to get a home game. That’s why you play more than a 3rd of the schedule in the division. A wildcard with a great record should have won their division if they wanted to play at home.

    With such a short season and season to season variation in terms of which divisions have stronger teams, you can’t go by record. Would you want KC to have to travel to the Bills this year for example? That makes no sense to me.

  58. I’m sure this will all be fixed by an 18 game schedule……..

    Seriously though, any change would just water down the division rivalries, which at last check drive television ratings, so pretty sure the ginger clown won’t change anything.

  59. Changing the game for the sake of changing it, is a losing proposition. And if you want a home playoff game, win YOUR DIVISON. The game has survived for decades without all the whining from the peanut gallery, no need to fail the game now.

  60. As a Cowboys fan, i agree with this. Winning your division should only guarantee you the playoffs, and the home-field should be based on record.

  61. daysend564 says:
    December 4, 2019 at 11:53 am

    SEA: Bengals, Steelers, Cardinals, Rams, Browns, Falcons, Bucs, 49ers, Eagles
    SF: Bengals, Steelers, Bucs, Browns, Cardinals(x2), Panthers, Redskins, Packers

    Both teams have beaten Steelers when they were slumping hard at the start of the season after losing Ben. Other than that, they’ve each beaten 1 team over .500, with SEA’s win being against the 49ers. SF has one quality win on the season, against the Packers.
    ———————————————-

    Did you think no one would notice the wins you list only add up to 9 for each team? Leaving out the Niners victory over the Rams and Seattle’s over Minnesota hurts more than just that argument’s credibility, it dings yours as well.

  62. cjmcfootball says:
    December 4, 2019 at 11:12 am

    One counter-argument is that the 4 teams with the best records are not necessarily the 4 best teams anyway.
    Let’s say a division is so terrible that the one decent team there is essentially spotted 6 wins. They finish 11-5 while a division winner from a really tough division is 10-6 because they played a harder schedule. Which team is better?
    The system is never going to be perfect. You want a home game, win your division. Every 4 years or so a clearly superior wildcard team will have to go on the road. If they can’t win, they weren’t that great anyway

    ***********************************
    I THINK I understand what you were TRYING to say, but your scenario/argument is flawed.
    In your example BOTH teams are Division winners, because if you got “6 wins” from your division, you in all likelihood WON it.

    The problem will really come in when a WILDCARD team got fat off of playing a really weak division that year. For example, take the Vikings (or any other team playing the NFC East.) They have HALF of their wins from playing the lousy division this year.

    So, it’s not just the DIVISIONAL winner benefiting from playing in the lousy division, with the current scheduling design, it’s any team playing said lousy division.

  63. jdub036 says:
    December 4, 2019 at 11:11 am
    Or maybe just leave it alone. You want a home playoff game, win your division.

    ——————

    I think that’s the point, that 7-9, or even 8-8 and arguably even 9-7, really isn’t “winning” anything, it’s simply being in the right spot (division) at the right time.

    I mean what, 7-9 or 8-8 is some kind of champion, be it division or otherwise?

  64. If Any team finishes 13-3 or 12-4 & won every home game, that means they won 4 or 5 out of 8 on the road. Don’t change a thing because winning your div should get you a home game in the playoffs..

  65. The 6 teams in each conference with the best records should be in the playoffs period. A 7-9 or 8-8 team shouldn’t get to go over a team that has more wins. The NFL formula is ridiculous.

  66. Should have never gone to eight divisions, if they would have left it at six, this wouldn’t be happening. More than likely you’ll have a 13-3 Seahawks or Niners team going to a 7-9 Cowboys or Eagles team for the first round.

  67. I remember the Pats fans bemoaning the Cassell season when N.E. missed the playoffs at 11-5, while the Bolts was a division winner at 9-7.

    I told the Pats fans that they should call for the team to move to the West Coast if they don’t like how things are set up.

    Even funnier is that that next April, the 9-7 Chargers got a better draft pick than the 11-5 Pats, which brought on more homer sobbing. 😀

  68. Agree with people saying keep things the way they are. It’s true the divisional subplot is really what the season is all about.

    The playoffs are a thing that happens later in the season when people realize who’s going to advance but without divisions, six games would mean much less.

    On a side note, as a Seahawks fan I hope Jerry Jones lives forever.

  69. 2ruefan says:
    December 4, 2019 at 12:23 pm
    cjmcfootball says:
    December 4, 2019 at 11:12 am

    One counter-argument is that the 4 teams with the best records are not necessarily the 4 best teams anyway.
    Let’s say a division is so terrible that the one decent team there is essentially spotted 6 wins.

    ————–

    Let’s just say the Pats for instance, not that that’s been the case over the past 20 years or anything, just sayin’, hypothetically …

  70. Also, a tougher division could/would lead to a “worse” record since you’re playing more tough teams. So a 9-7 team could be better than an 11/12 win team if they’re in a hammer division.

  71. I’m really suprised at the reaction here. Just leaving a stupid rule the same because it’s already in place is just bad logic. I would think that a situation like this year would be enough to signal that the rule should be changed. But I guess it’s going to take a team literally going 5-11 and winning their joke of a division getting to host a 15-1 team that beats everyone on their schedule, including their division winner straight up, yet loses the tie breaker to the division winner for people to realize that the existing system could allow exactly this to happen at some point. You want winning the division to remain important? Ok, make all division winners automatically earn a playoff birth, but they only get a home game if they are above .500. This requires very minimal change that apparently everyone is so adverse to.

    Why on earth would you have a system that WILL SURELY eventually have a bottom 10 league in the league get to host the 2nd or third best team in the league? Change it next offseason, before something ridiculous like this actually happens.

  72. Sounds great but MONEY will determine if that gets changed. Imagine, all 32 owners could vote to essentially guarantee the possibility of winning their division but not hosting another home game and losing the REVENUE that comes along with it. Owners will not change that rule. It’s not like happens every season. Ironically the example cited was 9 years ago.

  73. “Just win your division. Everybody plays under the same rules” says the fan of the team playing in the weak division.

    “If you can’t beat an inferior team on the road. You shouldn’t deserve to move on.” The point is that the inferior team shouldn’t be hosting the game to begin with.

    Remind you that these are the same hypocrites. Who hated when 7-9 Seattle hosted New Orleans in the “beastquake” wildcard game and complained saying Seattle had no business hosting

    Lol half you people can’t even believe your own BS. Gotta love the internet.

  74. I totally agree…The top 4 records in a conference should get at least one home playoff game. No way is it right/fair that two of GB/Minny/SF/Sea should have to go on the road to face Dal/Philly. All 4 of those teams will win at least 11 games while the winner of the NFCE will be lucky to win 10 games. It’s one of the worst divisions in football and certainly in the NFC…Winning a weak, sorry excuse for a division should not be rewarded over teams with better records, in tougher divisions. It would definitely make the divisional round much more exciting.

  75. Travel to Dallas or Philly.. or host the Vikings or Packers… In this case I’ll take my chances on the road. Leave it alone. More often then not is works well..

  76. Yes, because the Pats getting 12-13 wins each year is so fair given they are spotted 5-6 wins per year playing in the NFC East. Maybe they should introduce a committee like the NCAA has. We all know how fair and unbiased that is.

  77. As an Eagles fan, I have to agree. Winning the division would still matter as it guarantees a playoff berth. But if the Eagles go, say 9-7 or 8-8 and win the division, we have no business hosting.

  78. billsfanmike says:
    December 4, 2019 at 12:28 pm
    The 6 teams in each conference with the best records should be in the playoffs period. A 7-9 or 8-8 team shouldn’t get to go over a team that has more wins. The NFL formula is ridiculous.
    ——-
    Well, then the divisions becomes meaningless.
    There would be no point to division games.
    If this is what you and Florio want, just have the two conferences of 16 teams. Top 6 get in. Not sure how the NFL scheduling would be determined if that happened.

    So to re-phrase, it’s a dumb idea.

  79. Saints fan here. I think it should remain as is. People bring up our team a few years ago being 11-5 going to Seattle who was 7-9. Nothing unfair about that. Our team should have taken care of business up there, but they didn’t. Seattle, clearly was underrated going into those playoffs. I think this should teach other teams that may end up in that situation to not take the home team lightly simply because they have a worse record. Win your division.

  80. Teams in different divisions play vastly different schedules. Winning a division should count for more than win totals. Leave it as it is.

  81. I agree with this and was shocked that the Seahawks-Saints situation didn’t lead to any changes, frankly.

  82. I see the millenials’ moms woke them from their naptime…oh, well. Just win your freaking division…the goal of every team at the start of the season…no do overs…

  83. I’m a Saints fan, which is important to know as I say the following: I like the playoff seedings just the way they are, even nine years after an 11-5 Saints team lost at 7-9 Seattle. And pass interference needs to go back to being a non-reviewable penalty.

    There was nothing wrong with OT until the ninnies of the world (one of whom writes a weekly Monday column) started whining about the fact a team could lose in OT without possessing the ball.

    Life isn’t fair. Suck it up.

  84. 1980 Raiders were 11-5 wildcard, didn’t win division which is the way it should be. Not pleased with NFL changing rules, wish defense could ruin a QBs day and Brady wouldn’t be talked about.

  85. @myspaceyourface – Must be an NFC East fan. A true football fan wants the best teams in the playoffs. It makes for interesting games. The NBA has it right.

  86. If the wild card with the better record is really that much better then they should be able to win on the road versus a weakling division winner. Using this year’s example, if the Niners can’t beat Dallas or Philly they don’t need to be in the Super Bowl conversation anyway.

  87. the 6 best teams from each conference should make it, period. A 7-9 team shouldn’t make the playoffs when there are 10-6 or 11-5 teams as well. Coming from a crappy division shouldn’t guarantee you a playoff spot.

  88. I agree with the idea, although not with the 2 suggestions, I don’t think requiring a winning record or a 10-6 record is the way to go. I think it should be this, for the wild card round the team with the better overall record gets home field advantage. Period. If you win the division going 8-8 and your opponent had a record of 9-6 or better, you are now the away team.

  89. Seeds 3 through 6 should be re-seeded based on overall record since theyre all playing in what’s considered the Wild Card round anyways. A division winner should get a playoff spot, but if they win a weak division say with a 9-7 record while there’s a stronger 12-4 team who maybe lost out to a 13-3 division winner, that 12-4 WC team could still earn a 3 seed and host a home game in the opening round.

  90. That year the Bucs missed the playoffs with 10-6 record. Meanwhile the 7-9 Seahawks were hosting a playoff game. Yeah the system has been out of whack for a while. Why can’t it just be the best teams get in? If there’s a tie, give the playoff spot to the team best seeded in their division. Simple.

  91. If the road team is so much bette than the division winner going on the road shouldn’t be a problem. A home crowd has never made a tackle.

  92. It’s funny, it seems like not that long ago that #5- and #6-seeded teams like the 2005 Steelers, 2007 Giants and 2010 Packers were winning Super Bowls left and right without the benefit of a home playoff game. Apparently that’s no longer possible. Winner’s trophies and orange slices for everyone.

  93. “The Seahawks won, prompting some to say that the outcomes proved that they were the better team. The better explanation was that, if the game had been played in New Orleans, the Saints would have won.”

    So homefield = automatic win? Why even bother playing the games? Your explanation isn’t any better.

    If New Orleans were such an overwhelmingly better team they should have won. They didn’t. Road dogs win all the time…see ’07 and ’11 Giants, ’10 Packers. If you think you’re the better team, prove it.

  94. That’s the way it should be. Division winners should have advantage over a wild card team no matter what the records. That’s why there are divisions. Just win your division. There are always people wanting change.

  95. florioisretarded says:
    December 4, 2019 at 3:24 pm
    This guy is always wanting to change things. Leave the game alone, they’ve already dang near ruined it.

    ————–

    The guy fancies himself a big thinker”….he suffers from little man syndrome

  96. Plenty of teams that were forced to play first game on road have gone on to play in/win Super Bowl. Way too much assumed as to the home field being a bigger advantage than it is come playoff time.

  97. If they ever expand the playoffs by 2 teams per conference I could see something like this happening.

    Right now though it would punish division leaders that are in very tough divisions.

  98. I think they should just reseed both conferences. Like they do the NCAA Tourney. You could have a NFC vs NFC SB. Let the best teams get the best chance of making it

  99. Disagree completely. Winning the Division has to be worth more than coming in 2nd place in another one. Win your conference or go on the road in the playoffs. If that team is so much better than the Division winner, why cant they win on the road against a lesser team? Weak at best Flo. Besides, 10 out of 43 teams have won as wild cards since it was introduced in 1978. Lets use your logic regarding college football. The major conferences have all divided in two, and have a championship game to decide the winner. Using your logic, you would place a second place team over the Division winner because they have a better record and you think they are a better team. Fair to all???????

  100. I say add a team from each conference because 10-6 teams should miss the playoffs way less often than they do now. 14 total playoff teams, 6 games on wildcard weekend, two for each channel. Only the best team from each side gets a bye. If you can’t win on the road, you don’t deserve to advance. It’s that simple

  101. Let’s just say the Pats for instance, not that that’s been the case over the past 20 years or anything, just sayin’, hypothetically …

    ———-

    The Patriots win percentage against the AFC East is the same as their win percentage against other divisions. The other AFC East teams have been bad for 20 years because they have to play the Patriots twice a year.

  102. It’s hard to win the division. My team (The Jaguars) has done it 3 times in 25 years. It has also had 12 and 11 win seasons that came in 2nd place in the division. I like it the way it is, reward the division winners.

    But adding more teams to the playoffs would be cool.

  103. If the Vikings and Packers can both win on the road at Dallas, then SF or Seattle should have no problem. If they can’t then I guess they didn’t belong in first place.

  104. Get rid of divisions, only two conferences. Each team in their conference play round robin for 15 games plus one out of conference game, and then determine the seedings.

  105. I don’t agree with your proposal to have the 4 best teams host. Who decides the four best? I hope it isn’t based on experts “power rankings” as they are so influenced by biases. Teams draft, bring in free agents to fight those teams in their Divisions. Winning the Division means something. Leave it alone.

  106. I don’t recall too much outrage in 2008 when the Patriots went 11-5, lost the division on a tie breaker and also the Wild Card on a tie breaker…in a year one division winner was 9-7 and another was 8-8. In past years, teams going 11-5 have won Super Bowls…

  107. Division winners should host games. It is about the fans, not the players or the teams. If you can’t win your division, you don’t deserve a home playoff game. That is all.

  108. A divisional realignment. Just two divisions per conference. Top eight teams in each conference make it. Home field advantage by record. Simple.

    I’d like to see some different rivalries established. I think Bills/Browns is a natural, for example. Dallas/Houston.

  109. The format doesn’t need as drastic a revision as Florio suggests. Every team knows what the format is at the beginning of the season: win your division or else you’re a wild card team. Yes, in some years a really good team has to go on the road in the playoffs. Thst “punishment” is tempered by getting to play a really crappy team, even on the road.

    I’d suggest one change: a divisional winner has to post a winning record to host the wild card team. .500 or below means the divisional champ goes on the road.

  110. Its why baseball is still popular today. THEY DON’T CHANGE THEIR RULES. 150 years. tradition. You know, passed down from grandfather to father to son to grandson. Tradition.

  111. I think it’s silly that 500 or below teams could be playing at home in the postseason. That said, let’s fix the officiating as that is threatening the integrity of the game. Someone will get hosed this postseason because of bad officiating.

    I think back to when my Saints had to go play a mediocre Seahawks team because of this. The fact is we lost because we were relying on a washed up julius Jones fresh off the street and more importantly, the defense was getting steamrolled. Not because of the location. Yeah, it was silly but whatever. It’s not like the officials decided not to make a super bowl call… now that would be bad. Lol

    Plus even as a saints fan, you have to appreciate marshawn lynch’s determination closing that out.

  112. Currently the Hawks have the 4th toughest schedule played.

    The Cardinals the fifth.

    The Rams the sixth.

    The Cowboys the 30th.

  113. ivotedfornixon says:
    there is no Good solution to this issue.

    If there is then propose it to us.
    —-

    There is a good solution to this issue. LEAVE IT ALONE.

  114. Please change !…my teams always getting the shaft.

    Niners- best record in the nfl. Currently a 5 seed.
    A’s- 97 wins each the last two seasons and two one game “Playoff” shorter than any regular season series.

  115. Divisions matter, you get a home game if you win its a reward… sometimes a division has a down year or a team like the Cowboys are a let down even though everyone had them for 10 wins, and ends up with a tough schedule. They might get there… they may not…

    You put division games on the schedule the last week of the season… for a reason, you put them ALL OVER primetime football.. because you can say it matters.

    I don’t want to see a what ends up being a wild card of the Packers Vikings, or 9ers and Seahawks selling 3# seed hats if they don’t win the division.

  116. Chargers benefited from this recently when they went 8-8 and hosted the 12-4 Colts and Peyton Manning. They won.

    I agree the rule desperately needs to be changed. When was the last time a Wildcard made it to the SuperBowl? Does anyone think it’s possible for a west coast team like the Chargers to win 3 consecutive games on the east coast in January? Hahahahaha. Kudos to the Chargers for pulling the upset over the Ravens last year though.

  117. Sorry, Bob. Saints fan here too. The PI changes have not affected games hardly at all, and anyone who says it slows down the game needs to put a stopwatch on commercial timeouts. As far as the home game business, fine I’ll go with that. Can I then stop listening to what a horrific place Seattle is for an out of town team to play.?

  118. Florio is always a fan of rule changes except when he’s not. Dude saw the PI review disaster coming before anyone else. He even did his best to warn the league how much of a cluster duck it would be

  119. ill go one better and say screw division winners…… the top 6 from your 2 conferences get in period. imho THAT is fair. im a die hard eagles fan and have been for 37 years now but im also a honest person. Being a honest person means you have to say truthful things you do not really want to say. Such is this case…howevet i will do it. If im being brutally honest the cowboys DO NOT deserve to be in the playoffs…..NOR do my BELOVED EAGLES!!!! Both have had chances to be in control of this division and neither can do it. When it matters they both spit the bit.i wont be suprised if their week 16 matchup ends in a tie. 1 will end up winning the east and go on to the playoffs…a seeding neithet deserve cuz they havent earned it. So they move on and the fans get to see one of them play a weak wildcard game that theyll lose. This sux when there are much more deserving teams. just my humble but honest opinion

  120. You want this done scientifically, don’t you? Create a weighted average — a true record — by multiplying each score differential (these would be positive values in victories and negative in defeat) by a percentage that reflects the recency of the game. Week 17 would be the highest percentage and so forth going back to Week 1. Then sum all 16 products.

    Week 1. 33-03 Steelers. +30 * 0.10 = + 3.0
    Week 2. 43- 0 Dolphins. +43. * 0.20 = +12.2
    Week 3. 30-14 Jets. +16. * 0.30 = + 4.8
    Week 4. 16-10 Bills. +06. * 0.40 = + 2.4
    Week 5. 33- 0 Jets. +33. * 0.50 = +16.5
    Week 6. 35-14 Giants. +21. * 0.60 = +12.6
    Week 7. 33- 7 Redskins. +26. * 0.70 = +18.2
    Week 8. 27-14 Browns. +13. * 0.80 = +10.4
    Week 9. 20-37 Ravens. -17 * 0.90 = -15.3
    Week10. 17-10 Eagles. +07 * 1.00 = + 7.0

    TOTAL. +71.8

    For sake of ease of illustration, I used the first 10 games of the Patriots season. The percentages would look different if we used a full 16 week season.

    But you would then rank teams based on that total.

  121. I’ve never seen such an overwhelming majority agree on anything here before. And that makes me pretty happy.

    The NFL got it right, don’t habitually question everything like some silicon valley maniac all hopped up on wheatgrass and TED talks. The scheduling and playoffs system is what sets the NFL apart from the NBA, whose playoffs is just an orgy of pointless games and hype to churn up maximum revenues.

  122. Ask any coach, player, or owner what the first goal is. The response is always the same, WIN the division. One would assume a 11-5, 12-4 or 13-3 wild card team should be able to beat a 9-7 division winner regardless of where the game is played and if they don’t that’s on them. Let’s not forget about the strength of schedule the 9-7 team that won the division may have played a much tougher schedule. I understand the case to change it but I think they just need to leave it alone.

  123. I would change the seeding to be based on record. Tie breaker to a division winner.

    I would not let a team below .500 into the playoffs even if a division winner unless the whole conferences was bad. It should be the best teams that play, not just the best division winners +2 wild cards.

    this could be solved, by adding 2 real wild card games, so a totle of 4 wild cards, where the game the division hosts that’s bad is in the wild card, not the next round.

  124. painkiller20 says:
    December 4, 2019 at 1:21 pm
    Get rid of divisions then too. Patriots have benefited from a weak division for 2 decades but that’s never pointed out.

    ——

    Oh, it’s been pointed out – by people so sick of the Patriots winning ways for 20 years that they create scenarios that the numbers clearly show DO NOT EXIST.

    In the 240 games or so (including playoffs) vs.the entire NFL, across every parameter anyone wishes to test, the Patriots win % has been the same. The sample size is huge, and it couldn’t be more clear. They are the very definition of “equal opportunity” when it comes to their dominance over the last generation.

    More accurately, anti-fan fatigue from a long-time dynasty has spawned some truly flimsy explanations in an attempt to decry its existence, and this happens to be a popular (and obviously false) one.

    Put the Brady/Belichick Patriots anywhere you want, and that division will lose to them. The numbers speak loudly to this.

  125. boltschick says:
    December 4, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    I agree the rule desperately needs to be changed. When was the last time a Wildcard made it to the SuperBowl?
    ——————–
    2010, when the Green Bay Packers WON. Prior to the that, 2007 when the NY Giants WON.

    Any questions?

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