Below is a conversation I had yesterday with my friend and karaoke superstar Michael Rand. It’s been cross-posted on his wonderful blog. I think it’s pretty clear by now that we should be co-running the NFL. Anyway, enjoy.
B.: Is it just me, or was yesterday’s slate of NFL games nearly unwatchable? This may very well be an annual week 17 tradition, but this year’s unholy tankfest seemed much more egregious than in the past.
I may have a proposed (and possibly also obvious and oft-argued) solution, but I want to check with you to see if it’s even possible. It goes as such: playoff seeding is determined solely by record, rather than division placement. A division championship does not guarantee a 1-through-4 seed; a wild card team with a better record than said division champ would be granted a higher seed.
Let us ponder a scenario. If the Vikes went 16-0, and the Lions went 14-2 and had the second-best record in the NFC, the Lions would still only receive a 5 seed in the playoffs due to their wild-card status. Is this true? And if so, can we agree it’s flat-out ridiculous? In this made-up scenario, I feel the Lions deserve the 2 seed.
Last week, three teams — the Cardinals, Bengals and Patriots — would have had something on the line and therefore would have presumably not played like wieners, which would’ve added to the late-season drama and avoided them taking a giant [redacted] on all their fans who paid money to attend the games or set aside time to watch. I see no downside to this scenario.
Have I missed something? Does this not make all the sense in the world? I eagerly await your response.
RandBall: I think it makes a great deal of sense and is absolutely correct. The only bad thing is that teams in a weak division (where they get to beat up on other teams 6 times under the current scheduling format) would gain an advantage over teams in a tough division. But they already do now in some senses, so …
B.: Yes, exactly. In the current format, teams in a weak division are DOUBLY rewarded for playing bad division foes: not only do they have an easier schedule, but they are guaranteed 4-or-higher seed as the division winner. My seemingly elementary solution is merely removing one of those rewards. It would also result in a more competitive week 17, as well as present a fairer playoff scenario. Some ideas just make too much sense, I suppose.