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Halo 12-17-2010 08:23 PM

New Orleans Saints could be victims of preposterous playoff format
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The most surprising thing about the NFLís playoff format is not that New Orleans could go 13-3 and end up playing on the road against a 7-9 team in the wildcard round. Itís that similar absurdities happened so rarely in the first eight years of the preposterous current system.

When the league went from six divisions to eight in 2002, it asked the wildcard with the best record in each conference to travel to the division winner with the worst record on the opening playoff weekend. Thatís a recipe for ridiculous matchups.

Somehow, only one situation arose comparable to what likely will happen to the Saints this year. In 2008, Indianapolis went 12-4 in the AFC South and finished second to Tennessee. The Colts played at 8-8 San Diego in the first round (the Chargers had been 4-8) and lost in overtime, a game they almost certainly would have won at home.

The league bigwigs can talk about protecting the value of winning a division all they want, but rewarding the champion of a horrible division while penalizing a legitimate Super Bowl contender makes no sense.


foreverfan 12-17-2010 11:18 PM

If it was happening to the Falcons, I'd be down with it.

|Mitch| 12-18-2010 01:08 AM

I agree! Winning your division should guarantee a play-off spot, but the seeding should be handled another way...

SmashMouth 12-18-2010 06:32 AM

They should do it NBA style where records do matter ... OTOH ... how often does it happen ... besides, you got to beat the best to be the best!

SaintFanInATLHELL 12-18-2010 08:01 AM

I really think this discussion so far focuses on the wrong game. The game in the wildcard round really isn't all that relevant. Unlike the NBA, which plays multigame series, the NFL is win or go home. So the idea that the team with the better record gets the HFA doesn't really work.

The game that bothers me is the conference championship. Any wildcard that gets to the conference championship game is a proven playoff winner that has won two road games and has beaten a top conference team at home that had a bye. Yet unless you have two wildcards in the same conference win out, there's no way for a wildcard to host a conference championship.

I think there would be a whole lot more excitement and drama at the end of the season if the NFL simply reseeded for the conference championship. At that point each of the teams have one at least one playoff game, and all the division winners each had a home game. If a now 15-3 #5 wildcard is playing a 12-6 #3 division winner, the fact that the #3 division winner won a division shouldn't matter at that point. the #5 wildcard should host because they have the better record.

I think there is some balance there. Division winners get their home game reward. However, wildcard teams with excellent records have the opportunity to play themselves into a home game. And everyone in the conference will kill themselves to have as solid a regular season record as they can get because being the #2, #3, or #4 division winner does not guarantee you more than one home game unless your record is better in the conference than the wildcards.

This season can be such an unfortunate byproduct for the Saints. It's possible by Monday that the Saints are locked in at #5 and the 'Clowns at #1 with absolutely nothing else to play for the last two weeks. It looks like a win by the Saints and 'clowns (and I'm going to hate to have to stop calling them that if they ever clinch), and losses by the Bucs, Giants, and Packers would accomplish that. I'm not certain who would be the #5 seed if the Saints and Giants end up tied.

But the point is that there's nothing left to play for until the playoffs after that. Then all the questions of "Do you rest?" and blah blah start to come up.

But if having the best record means that you could host the conference championship, and not have to go Philly or Chicago in January, you would best believe that the Saints would keep the pedal to the metal all the way through.

This actually might be 2.5 cents. Inflation you know.


xan 12-18-2010 08:13 AM

Excellent analysis sfiah. I'm convinced and ready to line up behind you on this one.

Danno 12-18-2010 08:38 AM

I think I'm also in agreement with most. Winning your division guarantees your team a playoff spot.

But the postseason should be seeded by overall record.

Tie-breakers being...
1. Head to head (2-way ties)
2. Common opponnets
3. Conference record
4. Team farthest South, except FL

niteadept 12-18-2010 09:18 AM

Sense is something often lacking in the NFL, but whatever is thrown our way, Brees and company will handle. When there isn't any NFL next year, they can work on changing the playoffs as well. Oh wait, that would make too much sense once again. :doh:

ClintSaints 12-18-2010 10:14 AM

I'm not terribly worried since New Orleans seems to play better on the road than they do at home. I have no idea why this is the case, but it is. The Saints have lost twice as many home games as road games over the past two season.

SaintFanInATLHELL 12-18-2010 10:24 AM


Originally Posted by strato (Post 271055)
Its ok..we take on all comers..dont matter where or when...

May have to respectfully disagree here. This is coming from the prospective of someone who actually sat in Soldier Field for the NFC championship game in the 2006 playoffs (*). Where games are played in January actually do matter.

Excellent wildcard teams should have a realistic chance of playing at home, especially over division winners that have not played as well. I don't have an objection to rewarding division winners once in the playoffs. But over and over again isn't really fair when the two (or even three) best teams in the conference just happen to be in the same division. There should be an reward for beating a higher seeded division winner (other than continuing to play).

(*) I'm aware that game was #1 vs. #2. But if the Saints were a #5 seed, then there would have been no hope of playing anywhere else.


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