The nation’s worst fears came true Sunday night in Seattle. The woeful Seahawks beat the equally woeful St. Louis Rams to win the NFC West Championship. They became the first team ever to win a division and host a playoff game with a losing record. There has already been a lot of hand-wringing and calls for the whole system to be changed to avoid a tragedy like this in the future.
Cries of unfairness are echoing throughout the sports world. How unfair that the Saints have to travel to Seattle despite their much better record. How unfair that the Giants and Buccaneers, who both hammered Seattle this year, sit at home while the losers in Seattle host a playoff game. Never fear sports fans! The world is not going to end because the Seahawks are in the playoffs.
First off, the notion that the NFL should change its playoff system because of something that has happened once in 90 years is beyond absurd. If this were happening every three years then yes, let’s take a look at it. People need to relax. The system works fine and this season was an outlier that people should learn to embrace. You know, just like you embraced that annoying drunk uncle at Christmas. You didn’t want to, but he’s family, and that’s what you do.
Everyone is focusing on the Seahawks' terrible record and second-half performance with good reason, but is this whole thing really that tragic?
Yes, the Seahawks are a bad team and are easily the worst playoff team in the history of the league. They finished the season ranked 28th in total offense and 27th in total defense. Is that really that bad? Chicago’s offense is ranked lower and nobody is complaining about the Bears hosting a playoff game (not to mention the fact that Seattle beat them in Chicago this year!). The Patriots are ranked 25th on defense, only two slots higher than Seattle and nobody seems concerned that they have home-field advantage.
Basically, Seattle has an offense better than one of the other division winners and a defense on par with the best team in the NFL. If you frame this thing the right way it sounds pretty good.
And yes, the ‘Hawks were blown out in seven out of their last 10, but the 2008 Cardinals were blown out of four of their last six games and went to the Super Bowl. Nobody was calling for a re-seeding then and they shouldn’t now. Who’s to say Charlie Whitehurst to Ben Obamanu can’t be the same as Warner to Fitzgerald? What did Warner possess that Whitehurst doesn’t...besides experience, accuracy and talent? This could be an epic playoff run that will be replayed on the NFL Network for years to come!
Of course, the loudest cries are coming from New York and Tampa Bay where two teams with 10-6 records are sitting at home. Instead of taking it out on the Seahawks both of these teams should look in the mirror. Playoff teams don’t lose at home to Detroit the way Tampa did on Dec. 19th nor do they blow 21-point fourth-quarter leads at home the way New York did to Philly. Seattle didn’t do either of these things and is in the playoffs. Coincidence? Nope.
The Seahawks may have more holes than a chain link fence but the system is what it is and after the smoke cleared Seattle is on top of the NFC West mountain so they get to call themselves champs. So take a deep breath, settle into your favorite chair Saturday afternoon and root for the worst playoff team of all time even if it’s just because deep down you love train wrecks. Besides...the Saints will put them out of their misery for good and everyone can go back to their normal lives.