Under current NFL rules, division winners will always host wild card teams in the playoffs. Under a proposed rule change by the Chargers, that would not necessarily be the case.
The Chargers have proposed a change to the NFL bylaws that would seed wild card teams higher than division winners in the playoffs if the division winner had a losing record and the wild card team had at least four more wins than the division winner.
That would have come into play last year, when the 8-9 Buccaneers won the NFC South and got the 4 seed, while the 12-5 Cowboys were a wild card team and got the 5 seed. When the two teams met in the playoffs, it was at Tampa Bay. Under the Chargers’ proposal, the Cowboys would have been the 4 seed, the Buccaneers the 5 seed, and the playoff game would have been in Dallas.
The Chargers themselves lost on the road in the playoffs to a team that had a better record than them, although that situation wouldn’t change under the Chargers’ new proposal. Last year the 10-7 wild card Chargers played on the road at the 9-8 division champion Jaguars, and that would still be the case in the future if this proposal is adopted. Still, it’s easy to see why the Chargers think this proposal could benefit them in future years: As long as the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes, the AFC West is going to be a tough division to win, and the Chargers may find themselves a wild card team a lot in the years ahead.
All 32 NFL teams will consider the Chargers’ proposal, and they will need 24 teams to vote in favor of it for the rule to change.