Congratulations to the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks who ruined everyone’s theories about the inferiority of sub-.500 division winners by upending the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints on Saturday.
Thanks to the Seahawks, it’s going to be awfully tough for anyone to argue that sub-.500 division winners don’t belong in the playoffs ever again. Many NFL pundits had been up in arms that such an abysmal regular season team was allowed to be in the playoffs over its 10-6 counterparts — let alone host a playoff game. With critics like Bill Simmons leading the charge, proposals flew across the Internet suggesting that teams must be at least 8-8 or better to earn a division title, and that perhaps division realignment was the best solution.
All of that was silly. Under the current organisation of the NFL, four-team divisions are the foundation for which the NFL schedule is developed and division rivalries are the bread and butter that keep the league interesting.
Just because the NFC West was putrid in 2010, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have sent a division winner to the playoffs.
But it is a little ridiculous that a team that could only manage seven wins was able to beat the Saints. Sure, New Orleans was banged up, but does anyone really think the Saints would have lost that game at home?
Seattle’s “12th man” at Qwest Field is renowned around the league for being among the loudest crowds in football. It’s a sizable advantage, and one a losing team doesn’t deserve.
The solution? Give each division an automatic playoff berth, but if a division winner finishes under .500, it should be forced to play its Wild Card game on the road.
Or at least that’s my proposal until the Seahawks beat the Chicago Bears this weekend. Then all bets are off.
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