With the Christmas Season upon us and for most of us there is a crisp cold chill in the the air it means the play-offs are right around the corner.
As of right now it appears that in both the AFC and NFC undeserving division winners will get into the play-offs and awarded at least one home game while deserving teams in tougher divisions will be left out in the cold, as well as better wild-card teams having to go on the road to play said division winner.
As of right now the two divisions are the AFC South and NFC West. Both division are in danger of sending a .500 or below team to the post season while teams that could finish as high as 10-6 or 11-5 get snubbed.
In 2006 the New England Patriots finished 11-5 and missed the play-offs to an inferior division winner same with the Miami Dolphins who missed the play-off in 2003 with a 10-6 record.
At this point in the argument people like to bring up the 2008 Arizona Cardinals who almost won the Super Bowl in spite being a 9-7 division winner and hosting teams that posted better records then them that year. Sure the Cards beat the Panthers and Eagles, but would they have if they played in North Carolina or in Philly?
The post-season is suppose to be the cream of the crop when it comes to teams. We the fans are suppose to see the best, but it doesn't always happen that way because of the way the divisions are made up.
One way you could rework the division is move around some of the power house teams to some weaker divisions so that other power house teams who currently share the division will have a shot at the play-offs.
However that line of thinking separates rivals.
For instance the Eagles and the Giants are duking it out for the NFC East and one could possibly lose out on the play-offs due to the NFC West being so terrible but will send a below average team to the play-offs.
So you could just move either the Eagles or Giants to the West and problem solved, right?
Wrong, ignoring to the fact that you'd have a team from New York or Philly playing in a western division, there is no guarantee that either of those teams will be any good next season.
After all the 49ers, who resided in the west, were the team of the decade in 1980, and a power house in the 90's.
Who is to say that the current power houses won't fall on some tough times sooner or later.
Personally the way I'd reseed the division is make only two divisions per conference. The NFC East and West and the AFC East and West.
The NFC is the easiest to split up, given that almost all the teams in the NFC East and South reside on the eastern half of the country. Dallas being the loan western team but you keep them in the East because of rivalries with the Redskins, Giants, and Eagles.
Then you move the NFC North into the the NFC West. That way you add teams like the Packers, Bears, and Vikings to the West which should mean that the division winner will have a respectable record.
For the AFC, both divisions from the North and South are in the eastern half of the country, with the exception of the Texans.
It doesn't make as much geographical sense as with the NFC but I'd move the AFC South to the West because of Houston, and the fact there is a distinct possibility that the Jaguars might be in Los Angelos by 2014.
The play-off scenarios would stay practically the same. You'd have six play-off spots, two going to division winners, and four going to wild-cards. The division winners would get the by week and the four wild-cards would open the play-offs. The two wild-cards with the best record would have home games.
This system will give you better odds of the six best teams making the post season.
As with any division based play-off system I'm sure there will be off years where a division winner has a worst record than a team not in the play-offs, but with only two divisions it is less likely than what we have now.
As far as scheduling the regular season it could get a little tricky. One way would be to play every team in your division once seven games, which home and away would alternate every year and then the remaining nine played outside your division and determined by your previous year's standing, i.e. weaker teams would play each other, much like the league does now.
Or play home and home games versus three or four divisional opponents (alternating each year so you play everyone) and then the remaining games are once again played outside the division and determined by your previous season rank.
I'm not necessarily for reseeding the division in the NFL, but I'd prefer this method than to rearranging the eight divisions we have now, because rearranging will screw up rivalries and only be a temporary fix.
Or another solution could just be to eliminate that a division winner gets an automatic bid to the play-offs. It could just be based on record, and the best teams get in and are seeded by record and not by division winners.
Either way as a fan I want to see the best teams play in the post season, and yes runs like the 2008 Cardinals are nice, whose to say a team that got snubbed with a better record might now have been even more fun to watch.
For more outside the box thinking, follow me on Twitter (@jomac006).
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