Sunday night we will know who we will watch in the Super Bowl. The two teams will certainly have earned their way there but I can't help but wonder if they are the right two teams.
The debate before the playoffs began was whether the San Diego Chargers, or even the AFC west as a whole, deserved to have a team in the playoffs. That is not my issue with the playoffs; I think San Diego should have made it in. My problem is that their playoff game was at home.
I think there is a good chance that if that game were in Indianapolis we might be seeing the Colts try for another Super Bowl appearance. The Colts were an excellent team this year, tied for the second best record in the AFC, and deserved better than their 5th seed ranking.
Now, for whatever reason, the Colts have had their problems with San Diego over the last few years, especially in San Diego. Of course there is always the argument that if they were good enough to make it to the Super Bowl than they should have been good enough to beat San Diego on the road. Then why play the regular season? By this argument Indy should have just hung it up and not bothered to compete at all in their final games of the season.
Indy's ability acheive the record they did, and still not win the division is all the more impressive. They got the job done in the regular season and were not rewarded for it in the post-season.
I propose a new layout for the NFL playoffs. I still think that the winner of each division should make the playoffs. A team that rises above its designated rivals should be rewarded. Besides, if you are going to have divisions, then they should count for something.
The big change I suggest would be arranging the seeding, once teams have made the playoffs, based on record, with ties being broken by a series of tie-breakers. The first tie-breaker would be whether a team was a division winner, then head-to-head match-ups, then best divisional record, and lastly best non-divisional record. If two teams are still tied after that point, why not flip a coin?
By this method the playoff seeding would have been:
- Tennessee Titans
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Indianapolis Colts
- Miami Dolphins
- Baltimore Ravens
- San Diego Chargers
- New York Giants
- Carolina Panthers
- Atlanta Falcons
- Minnesota Vikings
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Arizona Cardinals
Obviously this seeding would anger Arizona fans who are getting their 1st and 2nd home playoff games ever this season, but it appears to me to be more representative of what the teams accomplished during the regular season.
This may not be just a football problem. Major League Baseball appears to have a decent system in place because only four teams make the playoffs, but perhaps the NHL and NBA may want to consider seeding with more of an emphasis on regular season record.
This would make games at the end of the regular season more meaningful and exciting, and probably bring in more money. That's what they are after anyways, right?