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What Can Be Done To Fix The NFL Playoffs?

The NFL Playoffs are one of the most exciting sporting events in America. 6 teams from each conference battling it out to reach the greatest


The NFL Playoffs are one of the most exciting sporting events in America. 6 teams from each conference battling it out to reach the greatest single sporting event in the world, the Super Bowl. However, there is just one problem with the NFL’s playoff system. The seeding.   The playoff seeding is the way in which teams are chosen and ranked to play in the playoffs. The current system is as follows; the top 6 teams – decided by winning percentage – make the playoffs and are ranked 1 through 6. The winners of the 4 divisions within each conference occupy the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th seed, and the other two teams take the 5th and 6th seed. The top 4 seeds all have home-field advantage for at least their 1st game of the playoffs. The current playoff picture can be found here.   On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the system. You’d expect that the 4 division winners would be the strongest 4 teams in the conference, and they normally are, but when they aren’t, that’s when problems with this system arise. And those problems have arisen this year, with both the AFC South and NFC East having division leaders whose winning percentage is no higher than 0.500.   Using this season’s NFC as an example, the 5-7 Redskins will enter the players as the 4th seed, and will host the 8-4 Minnesota Vikings in Washington. Even if the Redskins played the Seahawks, it would be a 7-5 team @ a 5-7 team, and surely it can’t just be me that thinks it’s wrong the worse team has home-field advantage?   Hence, I think something has to change with the way the playoffs are seeded. But what are the alternatives? One possibility is that the 6 teams with the best winning percentages from each conference, regardless of divisional rankings, go to the playoffs and are ranked 1 through 6 by their record. Using this method with this year’s teams, the Panthers (12-0), Cardinals (10-2), Packers (8-4), Vikings (8-4), Seahawks (7-5) and Buccaneers (6-6) would make the playoffs and be ranked 1 through 6 as their records dictate, and the Bengals (10-2), Broncos (10-2), Patriots (10-2), Chiefs (7-5), Jets (7-5) and Steelers (7-5) would make the playoffs and be ranked the same way.   This method would ensure the best 6 teams would be in the playoffs, which would supposedly ensure the quality of play during the playoffs was at its highest level. However, the main problem with this is that the winners of the AFC South and NFC East get no reward for winning a division, which – regardless of record – is not an easy thing to do.   So, perhaps the best way of altering the seeding system would be to keep who makes the playoffs the same – the 4 division champs and the next 2 best teams – but how they are seeded is changed. Rather than the division champs getting the top 4 seeds, the teams are seeded in the same way as in the previous suggestion, 1-6 with the best record as the top seed and 6th best as the 6th seed.   With this system in place the teams involved would be the same as the current playoff picture, but the seeding would be different. In the NFC, the Redskins would no longer be the 4th seed, they’d now hold the 6th seed and would be facing the 3rd seed Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, and the now 4th seed Minnesota Vikings would host the 5th seed Seattle Seahawks.   Personally, I think the final option would make the most sense. It means that the teams who won their divisions still get rewarded with a playoff spot – which they deserve – but teams who have the better records have home-field advantage. I think it is the fairest way of seeding teams. What’s more, if there isn’t a weak division and the 4 division champs hold the 4 best records within their conference, then they will be seeded in the same way as they always have been. It just makes more sense, at least in my eyes.


Remy Cabache

Lifetime sports fan. I have written with RealSport since the NFL section started and I have also written for my own blog, EbonyBird.com and I have had several articles published in local newspapers covering my local (American) football team.

What Can Be Done To Fix The NFL Playoffs?

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