“Zero steam” for playoff reseeding despite 2019 NFC East debacle

Getty Images

The NFL has shown, time and again, a resistance to making proactive changes. Instead, most big adjustments come as a reaction to a crisis, like the outcome of the Rams-Saints NFC Championship game.

And so it’s no surprise that the NFL will continue to resist sound arguments for changing the postseason seeding process, which guarantees every division champion a home game.

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, the issue has emerged in past years, but the possibility of stripping a division winner of an automatic home game has “gotten zero steam,” and that “[i]t’s never been a consideration.”

As a source with knowledge of past dynamics during ownership meetings has explained it to PFT, the idea has been proposed “a number of times” and debated “a few times,” but it “never got much traction.”

“For some reason, the owners felt strongly that it was important to make division winning meaningful and one way was to give them a home game,” our source said.

Per the source, it seemed owners feared that stripping division champions of an automatic home game and giving it to the fifth (and, possibly, sixth) seed could be the first step toward conference-wide seeding. In a year like this one (with both the 49ers and Seahawks among the best teams in the NFC) that could result in the top two seeds coming from the same division — and it could result in a division champion being shut out of the playoff process entirely.

Owners also have concern that late-season games could draw less interest, since a division title would not mean as much if it didn’t carry with it a home game in the playoffs.

Business issues also apply, as they always do. It pays to host a playoff game, and doing so provides an excellent platform for marketing season tickets in the next year.

Thus, even though the NFL is the ultimate meritocracy in many respects, not-so-subtle socialist tendencies (like revenue sharing) extend to playoff positioning, with all teams in any given year having a one-in-four chance in every given year of hosting a playoff game, no matter how good or (in the NFC East this season) how bad the four teams are.

And if it didn’t change after the 7-9 Seahawks hosted (and bested) the 11-5 Saints in 2010, it won’t change if the 8-8 or 7-9 NFC East champions host the 13-3 or 12-4 49ers or Seahawks in 2019. The NFL wouldn’t be required to react to the current format unless and until a team wins a division with a record in the range of 4-12 or 5-11, which is theoretically possible but incredibly unlikely.

56 responses to ““Zero steam” for playoff reseeding despite 2019 NFC East debacle

  1. Nor should there be. Division rivalries are part of what makes the NFL great. Even bad teams always play their division opponents tough. Take away the value of those games and you get a watered down season.

  2. Under a restructured playoff seeding: If San Fran and Seattle win this week they both would make the playoffs and have home field advantage.

    The next 3 weeks would be lame duck for those teams and the teams they play. Any body want that?

  3. Considering this year is the first time since 2014 when a team could win its division at .500 or worse, I’m glad the league isn’t overreacting. If this scenario happened every year with at least one team, that would be worth taking action. Happening once every 5+ years doth not maketh a problem.

  4. On many levels, it is a bad idea.
    1. Division games would then mean less, which affects the rivalries that generate so much hype/ratings/revenue
    2. Home games generate revenue that doesn’t all get shared, so it’s more $ in the team’s own coffers
    3. Plenty enough wild card teams have had enough success over the years to negate the idea that it’s not fair. If you’re 11-5, you’re supposed to go trounce the 7-9 team, even if it’s in their building. If you can’t, then shame on you

  5. This happens every once and a while but that isn’t enough to change the current structure. So what if Philly or Dallas gets to host a playoff game, it’s not like that is enough to pave their way to the Superbowl, they still have to win three more games, none which are likely to be home games.

  6. Cowboys need a Proven Nfl HC next season. Nobody form the college ranks will be able to take this franchise to the next level. Jerry hitting 80 soon will be wanting to butt out and see another championship before his expiration date is up.

    It wont happen but Billicheat with this much young star studded talent locked up for years would win 5 FIVE more Championships EASY IF he were to come here. Kris Richards isnt the answer Kellen Moore isnt and NO college HC could come in here and get these vets respect and win here. no way.

    Cowboys biggest show on earth and also the biggest disappointment.

  7. just win your division

    An away game Vs a 7-9 team in jerry world with no home field advantage should be a lay up

  8. Every year the cowboys are the most overrated teams in sports. They still deserve a
    home playoff game if they win the division.

  9. The current system is fine, even if every now and then something like the NFC East happens.

    It’s about as fair as you can make it without making every team play the exact same schedule, and even that wouldn’t be a lock due to player injuries, mid season staff changes, and even home field advantages.

    Just leave it alone.

    Every time changes are made, this game gets worse.

  10. Yep, if you wanted to change..
    The NFC East has carried the NFL for decades. 21 NFC Championship wins and 13 Super Bowl victories, the highest marks of any division in the NFL.

    Imagine how many Superbowl and NFC championships their wouldve been if you changed the format

  11. cobrala2 says:
    December 8, 2019 at 10:30 am
    Funny how a once a decade problem is not really a problem.

    =========

    Kinda like living in a 100 year flood plain. Unless you just bought your house and it’s the 99th year.

  12. “That’s because it’s a stupid idea to begin with, and it’s not a “debacle”. Win your division, plain and simple.”
    __________________

    So you would prefer that a 7-9 or 6-10 division winner knock an 11-5 non-division winning team out of the playoffs. Why are you in favor of rewarding mediocrity over a team with a winning record.

  13. “For some reason, the owners felt strongly that it was important to make division winning meaningful and one way was to give them a home game,” our source said.

    – Owners also have concern that late-season games could draw less interest, since a division title would not mean as much if it didn’t carry with it a home game in the playoffs.

    – Business issues also apply, as they always do. It pays to host a playoff game, and doing so provides an excellent platform for marketing season tickets in the next year.

    Well, there are two reasons right from the article itself. They would sound pretty reasonable, logical, and obvious to me if I was an owner.

  14. It should stay the way it is. Yes, it is unfortunate that a sub par team will get a home playoff game this year, but you cant change the rules for the exception. The result is almost always something like the knee-jerk reaction to the last years missed PI in the Saints/Rams playoff game. How’s that turning out?

  15. Or, you could say, a team should be grateful to even be in the playoffs as a wildcard no matter what their record is. Some of this has to do with the particular scheduling for each division that year. Why should a team 10-6 that couldn’t win their division be seeded ahead of a 9-7 team that did win their division when the relative schedules could have been the biggest reason for the W/L difference?

  16. Just leave it alone.

    Every time changes are made, this game gets worse.
    ____________

    The introduction of the forward pass certainly made the game worse, as did moving the goalposts to behind the endzone, lighter pads, and all other improvements over the past 100 years. Heck, let’s just go back to leather helmets since no change has ever improved the game.

  17. The more divisions you have, the greater the chance of this happening. Four teams per division is too few. Think about what it would have been like if the Colts had remained in the AFC East – Brady-Manning 2x per year and more competition.

  18. How’s this for a thought : The more the NFL has done to try to “perfect“ the game, the worst their game has become. If you don’t buy that, try reviewing some facts. Instant replay and most rule changes(especially the ones that do not have anything to do with player safety)…etc.

  19. I agree with many posters here. Keep things as is. And if a team is so powerful, go beat the chump team and move on. And if you can’t do that, well, then you aren’t a Super Bowl team anyway.

    About the only thing they could really do, is add another team or two into the playoffs.

  20. And check out how all of the .500 and below division winners fare in the playoffs. 2014 Panthers won their home game. 2011 Broncos won their home game. 2010 Seahawks won their home game. This is entertaining. If the WC teams with better records were so good, they would beat .500 and below teams, regardless of location.

    The claim that rewarding division winners has anything to do with “socialist” tendencies is preposterous. The NFL makes all of its decisions in order to maximize profits. It’s not in the NFL’s best interest to let some franchises drive others out of business. It’s in the NFL’s best interest to maintain some sort of competitive balance between the 32 teams and keep fans tuning in. It’s a cartel. It’s not the same competition that you’d see on the open market, but it’s not even close to socialism.

  21. Since the NFL switched from six to eight divisions in 2002, there have been exactly three years out of eighteen (2004,2006 and 2017) where there HASN’T been at least one wild-card team with a better record than a division champion. It’s a little more rare for the difference to be this pronounced, but let’s get the facts straight: this is not an exception, a once-in-a-decade problem or a bug in the system. This is the system we currently have and a variation of this scenario is happening virtually every year.

  22. So you would prefer that a 7-9 or 6-10 division winner knock an 11-5 non-division winning team out of the playoffs. Why are you in favor of rewarding mediocrity over a team with a winning record.

    ———–

    Yes, if an 11-5 team gets bounced by a 7-9 team they’re not the better team

  23. 0-10-6 and 3-13 are also possible. On the flip side, there could be two 15-1 teams as well making one a 5th seed.

  24. It’s just that the Eagles have underperformed so badly this year, creating a very big hole at the top of the NFC East. By the way, why isn’t anyone asking any questions about what’s going on in Philadelphia since Joe Douglas departed? They were favored by some to go to the Super Bowl. The silence is deafening.

  25. why would they reseed the playoffs? what a complete overreaction like that time the 09 colts inexplicably laid down for the jets which caused the nfl to ruin their week 17 games. now every year, the same 3 teams will rotate & play one another, all the while not realizing that there are even less games with playoff implications & the amount of dead games doubled. all because of an overreaction to one game. sad.

  26. Owners don’t want the last games of the season to “lose interest” but yet they want to add another week to the regular season when most teams have already been eliminated from the playoffs and notable players are already on IR?

  27. Consider this current system as the Electoral College of the NFL. Even undeserving teams are provided a paved opportunity to the top, outside the control of the majority.

  28. cardinealsfan20 says:
    December 8, 2019 at 10:41

    So you would prefer that a 7-9 or 6-10 division winner knock an 11-5 non-division winning team out of the playoffs. Why are you in favor of rewarding mediocrity over a team with a winning record.
    =====
    Yeah, remember when that 13-3 Patriots team beat that mediocre 9-7 team in the Super Bowl after the 2011 season? No? Me either…

  29. Sick of all the lazy excuses! It is ridiculous that a 7-9 or 8-8 team gets a home game against a team with a far better record. Fine, let the division winners go to the playoffs, but the team with the better record should get the home field. Winners of sh** divisions should not be rewarded! Sorry Seattle/San Francisco, you won 13 games but we’re going to make you travel TWO/THREE TIME ZONES to play another team that can’t beat anyone with a winning record.

  30. It’s happened once in the last 10 years, twice if this year’s East champ has a losing record. In the last 10 years, there will have been 120 qualifiers for the playoffs, including whomever makes it this year. At most, 2 of them would have had losing records. That’s 0.02%.

    Doesn’t sound like that big of a problem to me.

  31. “it didn’t change after the 7-9 Seahawks hosted (and bested) the 11-5 Saints in 2010”

    There’s the reason- Any Given Sunday, anything can happen.

  32. Revenue sharing with a hard salary cap is what makes the NFL great. You can’t buy a championship just because you are super rich, you have to be smart. Small amrket teams can be good too.

    Without revenue sharing you wouldn’t have teams in a lot of areas that aren’t in a major metropolitan area or don’t play in an expensive area (and can charge more money).
    In the long run, how well would a sport do if the teams were limited to several regions with most of the country having no team?
    I think the baseball model stinks and no longer follow MLB.

  33. There’s zero steam because calling it a “debacle” is absurd hyperbole. The circumstances this year are unusual and not much beyond that.

    Most people realize that it’s not a perfect system, but making a reflexive change because of one strange year wouldn’t make for a perfect system either.

    You can have occasional years where mediocre teams get a home game, or you can have a system where division games are borderline meaningless. Most people prefer the former over the latter. It’s that simple.

  34. This would be a mess if implemented. Where do you cut it off 7-9, 8-8? And who gets to judge who is bad. A 10-6 team could realistically be worse than an 8-8 team, based on how easy or hard their schedule was. Stop trying to fix small problems. They only make bigger ones.

  35. Hasn’t the Division Champion won those wildcard games against the “better” team…?

  36. I’m a Saints fan, and I remember that horrible game against the Seahawks. But I’m not in favor of changing the seeding. I agree that wining the division should mean something. Leave it alone.

  37. Reactionary! The 2010 Seahawks got into the playoffs as a 7-9 team and the wild card game gave us the legendary Beast Quake. Please don’t over-legislate this great game!

  38. The emphasis has always been on having Four Division winners. Regardless of individual team records, the best team from each Division gets a home game. That provides a strong incentive to win your Division. This emphasis should not be changed.

    If a Wild Card winner (Seattle/San Francisco) has to come to Dallas/Philly to play the Division winner that’s the way it supposed to work.

    If the Wild Card team has a 11-5 record and travels to a Division Winner with an inferior record then we would expect the 11-5 team to beat the stuffing out the 8-8 team in the Division Winner’s stadium.

    There have been several Wild Card teams that have won the SuperBowl while playing road games.. The Oakland Raiders and my Giants (twice).

  39. It’s only when the NFL’s darlings ( patriots and 9ers) face some type of adversity that they want to change rules and what not. Dont take away from division rivalries and winners!! How about we worry about thuesday night ,and overseas games 1st!!

  40. “The NFL wouldn’t be required to react to the current format unless and until a team wins a division with a record in the range of 4-12 or 5-11, which is theoretically possible but incredibly unlikely.”
    ==========

    Not sure that would prompt any changes. They could simply ignore the outcry about it the same way they do now. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but they are very good at just doing what they want regardless of the absurdity or public outcry. In fact, they delight in it.

  41. I think the 2 best records in each league should get byes though. Say Seattle ends up 14-2 and Clara 13-3 and those are 2 best records……they should both get byes.

  42. I don’t really care if a 5-11 team won their division and got a home playoff game every year. Win your division, get a home playoff game. That’s how it works in the NFL. There’s nothing wrong with the system.

  43. The NFC East went 1-3 against the Jets in 2019. If the 49ers/Seahawks would have a hard time beating one of those teams on the road, I wouldn’t be so optimistic about their chances of traveling to win the Super Bowl against a real team.

  44. So once every 5 or 6 years you have a division like the NFC East this year but for some reason, this year because it’s Dallas, it’s a problem? First of all, if you want to reseed strictly by record, you need to level the playing field and have the entire conference play similar schedules which would basically be impossible. Right now, if you win your division, you end up playing all division winners the following year whereas if your 3rd or 4th(see SF) you end up playing the 3rd-4th place teams in other divisions for your extra games. In theory, division winners have a much tougher schedule the following year. Bottom line, you don’t want to go on the road for your first playoff game, win your division and if you don’t and you’re that good, you should smoke that 8-8 division winner that you’re playing against in the 1st round.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.