The League

Richard Boadu & Claude Clayborne
6Magazine co-editors

Richard Boadu & Claude Clayborne

Publisher/Co-Editors of 6Magazine - a football and hip-hop culture digital magazine

Playoff change we can believe in

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By Aaron Stern

Going into the 2010 NFL season everybody knew the NFC West was bad, but nobody could have seen this coming: The first playoff berth - and division championship - earned by a team with a record below .500.

The Seahawks have done it, giving hope to C students everywhere, and adding nuance to the adage that when a bear attacks you don't have to be faster than the bear, just faster than whoever else is around at the time.

Meanwhile, the Giants and Buccaneers are forced to stomach the bitter pill of sitting at home in January with 10-6 records when a 9-7 record will get you into the postseason in most years. That may not seem fair to many, but that's life in the NFL, where divisions - and division championships - create heated rivalries that fuel fan bases and boost the league's currency. The alternative is to switch to an NBA-like system in which divisions mean nothing and playoffs feature the top eight teams from each of the two conferences, regardless of their divisional records.

That's not the way to go. Face it: As a Redskins fan, there's no greater drama (if I remember this correctly) than the Skins driving up I-95 for a late December game in Philly or Jersey for all the marbles. Watching them play Arizona or even Detroit for the final wild card berth under such a system just wouldn't be the same. Without that intradivisional tension, playing the Cowboys would become as vitriolic as playing the Falcons.

Which isn't to say the system doesn't need tweaking. The Seahawks earned a playoff berth, and they deserve the joy and glory, however dubious, that comes along with it. But that shouldn't mean that they get to stay at home to play the defending Super Bowl champion Saints, who are 11-5. Records should count for something, and those with better records should be rewarded appropriately. An ideal playoff system would retain the time-honored structure of divisions within both conferences: Division champions would get a berth, but overall seeding would be based on record.

Such a system wouldn't make teams like the Bucs or Giants feel any better, but it would reward the greatest number of fans by keeping them interested - not to mention rewarding their teams with the ticket and merchandising revenue that only a home playoff game can reap.

By Richard Boadu & Claude Clayborne  |  January 5, 2011; 1:00 PM ET  | Category:  NFC , NFL Rules , Playoffs , Seattle Seahawks Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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