Tuesday, December 21, 2010
NFC West champ should get home game
By Mike Sando
Eight of 16 NFC West scenarios for the final two weeks of the 2010 NFL season produce a 7-9 division champion.
A team with double-digit victories visiting a 7-9 division winner in the wild-card round has already stirred debate. It's something we can expect to hear more about when NFL owners hold their annual meetings in the spring.
What to do? There's no need to overreact. Never before has a team with a losing record won a division title. If it happens one time, that's the way it goes. The current system rewards division winners, as it should.
The subject came to mind again Tuesday when I was listening to former New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi with ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss on their latest podcast. Bruschi made his case against changing the seeding system at about the 12:06 mark of the podcast:
"Should you have playoff reseeding? I don't think you should because then you are talking about records and you are staggering them by record and what happens when, say, St. Louis was a 10-victory team and then another team was an 11-victory team, but they were not the division winner? Does that mean they get a home-field playoff game over a divisional winner?
"I think you earn a home-field playoff game by winning your division. It is very difficult to do. It is the first goal of every NFL team. And if Green Bay is not good enough to beat Chicago and the Giants aren't good enough to beat Philadelphia to win those divisions, send them on the road."
Reiss agreed and pointed to a speech Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson once made to that effect at the league meetings.
By the way, Bruschi is taking the Rams to prevail in the NFC West. His take:
"I love Sam Bradford's rookie year. Man, I had doubts about him coming in when he was coming from that system where he is always looking at the sideline at Oklahoma and getting the play from the offensive coordinator and then looking back to the defense and then finally running the play. I had my doubts about him. But he has proven all doubters wrong. He is playing great football. Chris Long coming off the edge on defense, James Laurinaitis, a couple players I really like. St. Louis, I think they are going to win this division."
I feel the same way in general, but the Rams have enough issues to make them vulnerable against San Francisco. The 49ers certainly have more talent. The Rams are well-coached, I think, but some of their personnel limitations are catching up with them. That could be a problem at receiver and linebacker in particular against the 49ers.