Problems with the NFL playoffs
For too long now, a team is automatically rewarded for being a division winner. Is being the winner of a subpar division worth as much as being the second place team in a good division? I would say no. We have a couple examples of that this year. The Broncos or the Chargers are going to get in the playoffs. If it's the Chargers, they are going to have an 8-8 record. Meanwhile, there are going to be 2 teams in the AFC watching the playoffs with at least 10 wins. One of them will probably have 11. That doesn't seem quite right to me.
Now, let's look at the NFC. We have the Cards with a very pedestrian 8-7. They have been on cruise control for 5 weeks since they clinched the division. Should they make the playoffs with teams like Chicago, Tampa, Dallas, and Philly possibly sitting at home with better records?
The argument, of course, is that a division winner should be rewarded. I disagree. If you can't dominate a crappy division, you shouldn't have any right to be in the playoffs. When is the last time a crappy division winner made the Super Bowl? The teams that make it are either the dominating teams that earned the playoff bye, or the wild card team that won a bunch of games in a row just to make the playoffs.
My solution? Simply rank the teams 1-6 based on record, and then use the tiebreakers to sort things out. I don't care about potentially weaker schedules. The difference between the best team in the NFL and the worst is a couple players on each side of the ball. Give Detroit another receiver, a dominating left tackle, a good pass rusher, and a shutdown corner, and they probably win 10 games. Okay, maybe that is a bit of a stretch, but you understand my point. The worst team in the NFL should still beat the best team in the NCAA. The other upside to this is that Arizona would need to keep winning to stay in the playoff hunt regardless of where they are in the division. You want a reward for being a division winner? Okay, how about that is the tiebreaker right after head-to-head? Just a thought.