There are those who disagree with the current setup of playoffs for the NFL. If you’re not familiar with the playoff format: the NFL is divided into 2 conferences, and each conference has 4 divisions of 4 teams each. The winner of each division gets into the playoffs, and there are 2 extra spots (wildcard) in each conference for teams with the next best win-loss records.
It sounds like a fairly straightforward arrangement. Division schedules are setup so that there is a clear winner within each division. And if a team is good but happens to be in a division with a slightly better team, it can still get into the playoffs via the wild card spot.
The problem that some people have with this arrangement is this: what if one whole division is good and another whole division is bad?
For example, let’s say the best team in the NFC West has a losing record, at 7-9. But they win the division, so they get into the playoffs. Meanwhile, teams with better records than 7-9, in other divisions, miss the playoffs.
Maybe the NFC West teams had tougher schedules. I think that, either way, those teams will be eliminated along the way.
The alternative promoted by those opposing divisional seeding is to scrap the meaning of divisions and base playoff entrance and seeding solely on overall record.
Going to seeding based only on record doesn’t account for tougher or easier schedules. Plus I don’t like change, so I’m going to say keep the playoff format like it is.
What is the purpose of the playoffs and championship game?
To determine the best team that year?
Ostensibly, yes. In reality, no. It determines who is playing the best at the end of the year. Otherwise, why not just play the season and crown as champion the team with the best record? If there’s a tie, have a playoff.
Why don’t they do that? Because people like having tournaments. And because they like having underdogs who could have a chance.
Those who do want to change it do so because they add to the purpose of the playoffs. They want to find the best team, and they want close, exciting playoff games.
But what if the 4 best teams are in the same division? Would people want to watch them play again after having watched them play each other twice in the regular season already? No. People want to see matchups of different divisions.
Bottom line: If a team didn’t win its division, then it is not the best team in the league. So the current format does fit the purpose of the playoffs.
And Mr. Commissioner, if you’re reading, the one thing you should absolutely not do is expand the playoffs. Right now, it’s about a third of the teams make the playoffs. That’s a good ratio. If you widen the playoffs to include more teams, you’ll approach the mark of half the teams making the playoffs. That’s ridiculous – playoffs should be significant. Handing them out to anyone who is average or better makes them less relevant.
Plus it would mess up all those “they haven’t made the playoffs since …” stats.
Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.