Goodbye my friend...
The day the music died...

Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams...

Disclaimer #1: I know this has been written about many times already, but I'm weighing in late. Tough.

Disclaimer #2: This is about sports. Although I try to make it understandable for all, if you're not a sports fan, you may not want to read.

Disclaimer #3: This is not a slam against the Seattle Seahawks. Not at all. Really. Just a rant about a broken system

If you're an NFL fan, then you probably had an interesting weekend's worth of wildcard playoff games to watch. Ravens trounce the Chiefs, Packers eke it out against the Eagles, perennial powerhouse Colts lose, defending Super Bowl champion Saints bite it. Wow, it was a fun one.

But I'm having a tough time with something this NFL postseason. Even moreso than I usually have with this part of the playoffs.

Seahawks It has to do with the Seattle Seahawks who are in the NFL playoffs as the champion of the NFC West division. I know I'm going to catch a lot of flack as a lot of my friends are either from or currently live in and around the greater Seattle-Tacoma area (apparently I have an inordinate number of friends from the area), but I'm going to say it anyway. Why the hell are the Seahawks in the playoffs in the first place?

By way of very briefly explaining the situation to the non-sports inclined readers, the NFL is divided into two conferences - the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC) - and each of these is further subdivided into four divisions. With how the NFL currently structures their playoff system, the team with the top record in each division goes into the playoffs automatically and then the top two teams of the entire remaining pool in each conference make it in as "wild cards." Four rounds of games then occur, which lead to the crowning of a Super Bowl Champion.

For those who don't know, the Seahawks finished their regular season 7-9. That's seven wins to nine losses. It's a losing record. Sure, they were the champion of the NFC West division, and they proved their playoff mettle by beating down the defending champion New Orleans Saints, but THEY HAVE A LOSING RECORD!!

What I'm proposing is that all teams in the NFC and AFC should just be set up in one giant mass cluster when the end of the season is nigh. Then the top six teams in each conference would make the playoffs. The matchups can remain the same with the top two teams getting a bye through the first week of games while the numbers three and four overall teams would have to play the numbers five and six (wild card) teams in the first round.

How would this change what's happening this year?

This year's NFC playoffs featured the Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, and Philadelphia Eagles as the divisional champs. The two wild card teams were the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints. The top two teams, given my proposed redesign, would be the Atlanta Falcons (13-3, 414 PF) and New Orleans Saints (11-5, 384 PF) instead of the Falcons and Bears (See? It even negatively affects my team) based on final record and total points for (the "PF" in the parenthetical inclusions - refers to the cumulative total points a team scored throughout the season). The final four teams in the NFC playoffs would be the Chicago Bears (11-5, 334 PF), Philadelphia Eagles (10-6, 439 PF), New York Giants (10-6, 394 PF) and Green Bay Packers (10-6, 388 PF). Next on the list would've been the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the same record as most of the playoff teams at 10-6 but they had only 341 PF. Regardless, though, the teams in the playoffs all would have had winning records.

This has been a sticking point in most major sports for quite a while. Why should a team with a better record than a divisional champ not be allowed to play in the playoffs? But it's even more of a sore thumb this season solely because one of the playoff teams has a losing record and, to me at least, that makes the league look a bit whack.

I know you Seahawks fans are going to hate me now for writing this, but what about down the line when your team is second place in your division with a good record, but loses out in the same manner that both the Giants and Bucs lost out this year? You won't be complaining then if the playoff determination system is operating the way it truly should and pits the best of the best against each other for the championship, would you?

I really just don't think this is right. I know there is nothing we can do about it this season, but maybe it can be revised in the very near future.

Please?

The cruise is officially paid off.

A couple months from now, we're hitching a JetBlue flight (and I promise to be exceedingly wonderful to all the in-flight staff) to NYC for a brief layover and then continuing on to Miami where we will spend the night and board the next morning for a seven-day cruise through the eastern Caribbean, including Grand Turk, Nassau, St. Thomas, and San Juan.

Yay!

I am soooo looking forward to this. So is Katie. It will be good. Very good.

Comments

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Marty Mankins

Since the Raiders are out of the playoffs (for an 8th straight season now), I may have to stick to the west coast and root for the Seahawks. Nothing personal, right? ;-)

I look forward to hearing all about the cruise after you get back. Exciting. I've never been, but look forward to my first in a little more than 2 years.

Sybil Law

I completely agree with you. The NFL has been freaking goofy for a while with that shit.
But mostly, I am JEALOUS of your cruise!!

kapgar

I can't blame you for rooting for the Seahawks. It's the NFL's fault they're in the playoffs, not their own. Will the cruise be a special occasion (I ask because of the two-years-out planning).

kapgar

It's not just the NFL, though. All major sports leagues are backasswards like that. Postseason should be reserved for the best teams. And, yes, the cruise will be quite nice.

Odie

I'm more of a defense fan, so where your scheme loses me is the points thing. Maybe some sort of percentage of points scored to opponents' points scored? (I really don't know what I'm trying to say here.)

Mighty Hunter

Points of order: the last time this happened in the NFL (team with losing record winning their division and making the playoffs) was... never. Okay. The last time a team with a non-winning record (.500 or below) won their division and made the playoffs was... 2008 with the San Diego Chargers. Before that? The Cleveland Browns in 1985. Three teams with non-winning records have won their division in the past 25 years, and two in the past three. I would hardly say that this happens all the time in the NFL.

Does it happen all the time in leagues with more than four teams per division? I have no idea, but I'm going to guess no. (Waiting for Answer.com to return my emails.)

Yes, does it make for good television to see the best-of-the-best play each other? Sure! I would agree. Everyone wants the best product available. To tell you the truth, I was pissed when the Seahawks (the team I unapologetically root for) made the playoffs. "They can't even lose correctly!" I shouted. I was thinking of off-season stuff like the draft. I surely thought they would lose, and lose BIG, to the Saints.

And they didn't.

Here it is: yes, by rights, teams with losing records shouldn't even be able to win their divisions (which means that everyone else in their division is EVEN WORSE), let alone advance to the playoff level.

Having said that: don't you love a good underdog story? Haven't you seen "Rudy"?

Mighty Hunter

That makes sense. Points Forced/(Points Forced + Points Allowed).

It's not perfect, but it's a good brainstorm.

Mighty Hunter

Also? Rivalries kick ass. Are you suggesting that divisions should no longer exist, in other words, no more Black and Blue Division? Who decides which teams play each other?

There are other considerations, and I'm sure you're just trying to get something off your chest sports-wise. This is a good conversation starter.

bdub

To Hunter's point, by NOT taking a division winner based solely on this year's strange situation, you turn the record into the most important factor. Also, then points are secondary to record so why even have divisions? Oakland I believe was the first non-division winner ever to have a winning record in their own division! And, this point of changing the whole system woulf hold more water IF THE SEAHAWKS ACTUALLY LOST IN THE FIRST ROUND. They were good enought to win their division, and good enough to beat the defending SuperBowl champs fairly convincingly.

One thing you have to love about the NFL, this year was unusual in many ways, but over the past ten years there are almost half of the teams in the playoffs were not the previous year. Every season your team has a shot-KC, Seattle, Pittsburg, Bears, Atlanta, Miami all were not in the playoffs last year.

Bottom line, this year was not typical, it is likely this won't happen again for 10-20 years if even then. It could be worse.....it could be the BCS!

Bob "Pappy" Richardson

What is this sport you call "football?" KIDDING! I know it but don't really care that much since soooo much is screwed up in all sports these days. I will stick to the one pure sport unadulterated by anything ... curling.

And I am jealous of the cruise. THe only thing I MIGHT be cruising anytime soon is main street on a slow night.

Brandon

I think the Seahawks deserved to be there simply because they won their division and that's just how it works. If you don't take the division winners, what's the point of the divisions in the first place?

To me, what needs to happen is the elimination of the divisions. Go to a single table and take the top teams from that table. The divisions are nonsensical anyway and elreally are a relic of a time when things needed to look pretty in the newspaper.

kapgar


Not a bad idea. Never said my plan was perfect, just a start. 

kapgar


Yeah I like a good underdog story but the fact they finished their division at the top with that record makes underdogs look perennial champs. 

kapgar


That would work. 

kapgar


Divisional rivalries are the part I can't get past. I love em too. 

kapgar


With how weird this season has been and the strange results of just about any game, I wouldn't say my theory loses any validity due to Seattle beating New Orleans. Just another in a long line of unexpected results. But yeah I can't get past divisional rivalries. I live them and want to keep them, but I still hate how this happened. 

kapgar


You think curling is immune to problems? Where have you been? It's the worst of the bunch!!

kapgar


True they're outdated. But divisions foster rivalries like BDub and MightyHunter said and I do like rivalries. Do you think they'd still exist without divisions?

hello haha narf

<3

kapgar


So someone is actually on my side here?

Dave2

SUCK IT LOSERS! WE'RE #1! WE'RE #1! WE'RE #1!

Well, not really... but WE'RE GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS! BWAH HA HA HAAAA!

Actually, I think the entire set-up of the NFL is stupid as all get-out. It's like our antiquated electoral system for presidential elections... sure it made sense back in the days when we traveled by covered wagons and it took five months to get anywhere... but today? TODAY?!?

Truth be told, people are resistant to change. They hate it. So as much as you (and a few of us here) want something smarter... average Joe Sixpack fears change, and so the NFL ain't going to risk it.

kapgar


And that is just a load of shit. I really did like Brandon's point about divisions being a newspaper construct. Not sure if it's true, but it certainly makes sense. 

Odie

Maybe if there were more teams in a division (ie: fewer divisions) the problem wouldn't come up quite so much. Seems like way back when (when there were 2 leagues), the divisions were bigger and made a bit more sense.

kapgar


The number of divisions have definitely increased. Much as the number of teams have. 

sizzle

I'm having flashbacks to when I dated MightyHunter (and I see he has weighed in which I expected). I know zero about football sans what he tried to teach me. But I think you have a valid point.

But more importantly - it's clear you have a ton of PNW friends and yet you have not come to visit. REMEDY THIS STAT!

kapgar


Isn't it sad how many people I know up there without ever having visited?

Whit

What they lacked in record they made up for in seismic activity.

kapgar


"Seismic activity"? Is that what it's being called these days? 

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