Why Adding Another Playoff Team In Each Conference Is A Bad Idea
For starters, in 2013, we saw a 10-3 Arizona Cardinals team that was on the rise fall short of a wildcard spot in the playoffs. In 2014, we were indebted to the sysytem to accept a team with a losing record in the Carolina Panthers because they won their division. The same thing happened in 2010 when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks won the west, while the 10-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers AND New York Giants both missed out.
No system is perfect, but what is the best way to make sure the best teams get to join the dance after the regular season? More specifically, would adding another team to the mix fix it now?
I have a few proposals myself for future playoff consideration.
1. A winning record.
That's it; if a team can't win more games than they lose, then they are out. Winning a division (like the Panthers in the NFC South) with a losing record only means you didn't suck as bad as the rest of them. The Playoffs should be reserved for the best of the best. Period.
2. Diluting the pool.
As I said, only the best teams should receive the privilege of post-season play. I would love to see a 10-win team get in, but we already have two non-division winners in the field as it is. If another team is added, whom do they play? I like the current bye-week format and would not see it as fair to take that away from the second seed. Adding two more teams is preposterous, so keep the number as it is; an odd number just doesn't work here.
As in the case of the 2013 Cardinals, I could see them being given the nod over the division champion Green Bay Packers (8-7-1). Here's why: having a two-game advantage over the next available candidate is enough of a difference to take the spot away from the division winner. The Packers didn't technically have a winning record and the Cardinals were technically the better team. One game in the win column wouldn't be enough to have given the spot away (if the Packers had won that tie game). In the case of two ten-win teams, normal tie-breaker rules would apply. This basically coincides with the first rule.
Overall, I think that the cream rises to the top, but I also think that allowing a team with a poor regular season record into the post-season gives them an opportunity they really did not earn. Perhaps Roger Goodell and the rules committee should take this basic idea into consideration. After all, regular season performance IS the standard for post-season inclusion.