The NFL competition committee meeting begins this week with Baltimore’s own Ozzie Newsome having been a major part of this process for a decade. The number one item the committee is looking at is proposing the idea of reseeding the playoffs at the end of each season. Currently the division winner is guaranteed at least a Wild Card opening round HOME game.
Of course, the league’s worst nightmare when this type of seeding began, was what happened this year. A sub .500 team, by way of the Seattle Seahawks out of the anemic NFC West, goes 7-9 and hosts the 11-5 reigning Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. The fact that the Seahawks pulled off the upset and beat the Saints 41-36 diminished the effect, but still the idea of a team that goes 11-5 having to go to a 7-9 team in the first round of the playoffs just doesn’t seem right.
Those who are against re-seeding say it will devalue winning a division, but I strongly disagree. The only way a 7-9 team is going to make the playoffs is to win the division, and that should be incentive enough. Some have even proposed that we go a step further and, like the college game, say that a team has to be “bowl eligible”, or in this case at least have an 8-8 record to be allowed into the playoffs. Is it right that a 10-6 New York Giants or a 10-6 Tampa Bay team, who beat the Seahawks two weeks before 38-15, be ousted from the playoffs while Seattle not only gets in, but hosts a game?
Secondly, the league has done a nice job of pushing divisional games to the end of the season to enhance the need for teams to play out the entire schedule and not sit players down when they have the division, and a playoff spot, already in hand. By re-seeding, you enhance the chances of an already playoff bound team competing to improve their seed. Or better yet, get a home game with a 12-4 record even as a wildcard.
I don’t know that there is a viable economic argument that will surface from the owners to shoot this topic down, and it has been presented before getting as many as 18-20 votes. The league needs 24 votes for this to get enacted and hopefully chairman Rich McKay, who is a proponent of this, can garner enough votes.