NFL Playoff Format: Makeover?

Mark PareCorrespondent IIDecember 28, 2008

The NFL playoff format has come into question in years past and this year, the question comes again, should it be changed?

Here's how the playoffs come down: The four division champions automatically get the 1-4 seeds and the rest of the conference fights over two more playoff berths as wild cards.

Now, most of the league has a balanced flow of decent teams, and some divisions hover around mediocrity.  For example, the AFC West champion San Diego Chargers posted a record of 8-8 this season and will enter as the fourth seed in the playoffs.  The Patriots, who went 11-5, and the Jets, who went 9-6, will watch the playoffs on TV at home.

The Chargers will host the Colts next week.  The Colts went 12-4 this year.

The Dolphins host the Ravens next week as well.  Both teams posted an 11-5 record.

In other words, in the AFC, the better teams statistically, are on the road to start.

The NFC also suffers from this problem as the NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals, who went 9-7, will host the Atlanta Falcons, who went 11-5.

The other game has the Vikings hosting the Eagles in a game where the better team in the standings gets to have a home game to start.

Let's see what would happen if the team with the most wins, despite division placings, would get in.

The AFC would change a bit as the Titans and Steelers would still get their byes but the wild-card round would be a little different.  The Colts and Patriots would go head-to-head in a match that everyone would love to see again in the postseason, and the Colts would get home-field advantage, unlike next week. The Dolphins and Ravens would still face each other with the Dolphins getting home field.

The NFC would see the Giants and Panthers still getting byes as well as the Falcons getting their home game and would face the Eagles and the Vikings and Cardinals would tangle in Minnesota.

Sure, not really much would change but when you have an AFC East that produces three teams that post better records than the AFC West champions, it really goes to show that if you want an easier path to the postseason, go West, young man.