Tag:NFC West
Posted on: December 26, 2010 10:10 am

Restructuring the NFL Playoffs isnít practical

First of all, you can think of my blog post is bias as I am a Rams fan. The point is this post is to show how restructuring the playoffs because of a bad NFC West team will make the playoffs is ridiculous at this time. I understand fans and the media’s frustration there will be more worthy teams not making the playoffs, but the thing that people seem to ignore is this isn’t the first time or last time it’ll happen. Also if this is a rare occurrence, that should initiated an argument for a complete overhaul on the playoff structure. 

I mention this before in previous posts, but the Chargers won the AFC West in 2008 season with an 8-8 record and the 11-5 Pats missed the playoffs due to tiebreakers. I don’t remember much controversy over this, or with the Chargers having the home game win against the Colts in the Wild Card round during the playoffs. A similar situation has happen before, but what bothers me how it didn’t became a big deal with the media back in 2008. It seems favoritism has played into this argument which I think is wrong. Just when an NFC West team is in the same situation, it seems like it’s a big deal and a travesty on sports. Throughout most sports, the division/conference winner gets a post-season spot. In baseball there have been several division winners going into the MLB playoffs over better teams who missed the wild card spot. In March Madness back in 2004, Flordia A&M went into the tournament with a 14-16 record because they won the MEAC conference tournament and were the conference champs. Just because occasionally a bad team will make the postseason doesn’t mean the entire post season needs to be restructured. This is the same for the NFL and there will be teams that get the short end of the stick. That is sports. 

The reason we have seen some mediocre teams make the playoffs in recent years is because there are 4 divisions now. The old structure had 3 division winners, and 3 wildcard teams. The old structure provided more stability among the divisions and didn’t have lopsided divisions when they were better teams from better conferences that missed the playoffs due to weaker divisions taking away a playoff spot. If there is any restructuring, then the old 3 conferences make the most sense. Taking away a division playoff spot and giving it back to a wild card team is fair. I will support that restructure argument if it’s brought up. 

A common idea I’ve heard is having the best teams go into the postseason based on records. On paper it seems very simple and fair. The problem with the NFL is this idea isn’t practical. First is there have been numerous teams every year in the NFL with the same record. If we based this on records, then tie breakers would be a huge issue. The first issue you run into is that the head to head tie breakers  may not work as well with this format as not every team will face each other because there is only 16 games in the NFL season. The biggest issue with scheduling is the strength of someones schedule. We could see teams with a 10-6 record in the AFC East miss the playoffs while the 11-5 AFC West goes. Based on overall record that looks fair, but if you compare both teams schedules with the current teams in both divisions, the AFC East is a better overall conference. At least division winners with some conferences that are overall stronger than other conferences keeps the division winner meaningful as not every win and loss record is simple to dissect. 

To base the playoffs solely on record, the most practical way to do it is have two divisions like the NBA with an East and West. That causes issues as I said before, there is only 16 games in the season. There are going to be numerous issues with scheduling as there will be teams that had tougher schedules or tougher road games over another team, and so forth. The reason this structure works in the NBA is there are enough games that teams will face other both on the road and at home. That is impossible in the NFL with 16 games. The current format at least allows each division team face each other twice, one at home and on the road. That is fair, but that fairness will be thrown out the window in the the 2 division format. Someone will get a bad schedule each year, and it will cause more controversy than there is now. Sports isn’t always fair, but at least the current format has prevented more inequalities from arising in this game.

The biggest issue for the playoffs in the NFL is it based on only 16 games a season. Every year there are going to be good teams that missed the playoffs due to tie breakers or division winners because there aren’t enough games to give complete picture on who is truly the best. As of now, the way the NFL is setup the division winners getting a playoff spot seems the most fair. Even if this year the NFC West is absolutely horrible, it at least keeps division winner to fight for. It at least provides more diversity in the game allowing more inter-conference games and creating diversity with teams schedules. And with the 4 divisions and tie breaker structure that is currently in place, the current setup makes the most sense, especially with the wild card teams. The current structure at least allows division winners and most wild card teams have an equal shot with the current tie breaker system. The reason the Pats missed the playoffs in 2008 is they lost the tie breakers on head to head match ups in the AFC East, then lost the wild card spot as they were 7-5 in the AFC while Baltimore Ravens were 8-4 in the AFC. That shows that there will be good teams miss the playoffs due to failing to win more crucial games, and keeping the divisions and their winners meaningful. Finally just because one year there is a bad team that makes the postseason doesn’t mean the current structure is broken and needs to be reformatted. 
Posted on: December 15, 2010 9:27 am

NFC West Deserves their Playoff spot

Let's clear the air first, as you'll probably see on my profile I'm a Rams fan, so you can call me bias. I understand, but I'm going to make my points why the NFC West deserves to keep their playoff spot and how the Rams have been target unfairly as there have been other mediocre playoff teams in the past with merely a whisper of reforming the playoff structure. 

The biggest argument to rid the West of the playoff spot is because of their records compared to the potential wild card teams. To be honest, that is a valid argument, but unfortunately this scenario has happen in the past. In 2008 the 8-8 Chargers won the West while 11-5 New England Pats had to stay home as they lost the tiebreakers for their division and the Wild Card. And yet, I don't recall much discussion this shouldn't happen again. Now that we are in the same scenario again, but this time with teams that don't get much media attention as the Chargers, its seems its a big deal now. I think the argument of a bad division winner going to the playoffs over a better team who missed it due to tiebreakers is a good discussion, but lately there seems to be a bias as people have made a big deal with the NFC West, but not when it involved the Chargers in 2008. It wouldn't bother me if this argument is a reoccurring argument with every occurrence, but it seems to become an issue when it involves a non-media darling team. I am always open for playoff changes in any sports as they are always issues coming up, but not when there is a bias involved. 

Another argument that has come up is awarding the better record teams with the home game even if they are a Wild Card team. A good argument, but another bias issue as it has been targeted with the NFC West. Again, a weaker team getting the home game isn't fair. But remember, this is sports. Life isn't always fair, and this has happen in other sports like MLB when the Wild Card teams had better records than a division leader. Again, there has been several occurrences when this has happen, but not an issue until now. In 2003, the 10-6 AFC North Champs Ravens got a home game over Wild Card Titans with a 12-4 record. In 2006, the NFC South Champs Bucs with a 9-7 record had the home game over 10-6 Wild Card Giants

Those are just a couple of examples I looked up, but again what has bothering me is they have made a big deal with the NFC West, and particularly the Rams as they are favored to win it due to the remaining schedules. I can't disagree that it's not fair a weaker team gets the home game over the wild card team, but I haven't heard much dissent when it happen to Ravens or the Bucs. There literally seems to be an obvious east coast bias as they has been a big deal by media pundits with the scenario that is playing out in  the NFC West, but barely a whisper of dissent when it happen to teams that are based out East. To me this argument has become a bad joke. I can't take the argument seriously until it is applied to every occurrence, and not just when it happens to a non-media darling team. If this happen to the Cowboys or Brett Farve, then I wouldn't be surprised one bit if there is no argument brought up. 

Finally I'm going to close out that I don't believe the division will be won by a losing team. The Rams have a good shot of getting to 8 wins. Their next 3 games are against the Chiefs and 49s at home, and then close the season out in Seattle. The Rams have played well at home, and facing a Chiefs team that has struggled on the road and the 49s at home is a big advantage for the Rams and opening their chance of getting their 7th and 8th win before they close out the season. Their final game won't be easy in Seattle, but the Seahawks have been such an inconsistent team, and considering the Rams have already beat them, the Rams could win that game with ease if they keep their mistakes to a minimum as the Rams offense should take advantage against one of the worst defenses in the league.
Category: NFL
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