KC Joyner, aka the Football Scientist, has heard all the hand-wringing over the NFC West division winner getting a playoff home game it doesn't deserve. The Seattle Seahawks could end up hosting a first-round playoff game with a 7-9 record. Dozens of teams have filed transfer requests to the NFC West, but the league office has resisted to this point.
Joyner has gone back to the 1930s and looked at how the various playoff formats have worked over the years. He doesn't think this year's NFC West embarrassment necessarily warrants any dramatic changes in the seeding process or the overall format. I really don't have an issue with the NFC West getting an automatic bid (UConn anyone?), but I'd like to see Seattle or St. Louis in the No. 6 seed instead of No. 4. Let's take a look at some of Joyner's research/analysis (this is for ESPN Insiders only, but I'm granting you special access since I'm in a good mood).
"Contrary to what a lot of the current banter would have one believe, the existing divisional playoff system has been doing its job quite effectively," writes the Scientist. "Only four 10-win teams since 2002 (when the eight-team divisional structure was put into place) have not made the playoffs, and in two of those instances, there were no playoff teams in the league that had less than 10 wins. In one of the two seasons where a 10-win team was kept out in place of a team with a lesser win total, a pair of 9-win teams leapfrogged it, so it wasn't a matter of their being only one win better."
Joyner concludes that the current playoff system is doing as good a job, if not better, than all of its predecessors. And he makes the fair point that the New York Giants shouldn't be rewarded for 10 wins (if they beat the Skins) after losing a divisional battle against the Eagles and then flopping on the road in Green Bay. If the Giants had rallied down the stretch to reach 10 wins, we might have a different feeling toward them. But that's not the case.
So what do you guys think about the current playoff format? What would you tweak? Should the automatic divisional berth be overturned to prevent teams such as the Rams or Seahawks from reaching the tournament? In light of the NFC West's performance, is it time for Roger Goodell to embrace the idea of contraction?
Is anyone reading this blog today?