League Considering Seeding Playoffs by Record

Infield Infidel

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http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000308443/article/nfl-to-consider-reseeding-playoffs-purely-by-record
 
 
 
Among the "multiple ways" in which the NFL has examined potential adjustments to the playoff system, spokesman Brian McCarthy said Thursday there has been discussion of letting the team with the superior record host games even if they gain entrance to the postseason as a wild card.
 
This is a relatively new issue for the NFL. From the 1989 season through 2001 season, only three home teams with inferior records hosted playoff games. Over the past seven years, however, at least one team with a superior record has been forced to go on the road.
This weekend's games will raise the total to 15 such matchups over that seven-year span.
 
 

Blue Monkey

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Completely created by they league when the expanded and re-aligned to 4 divisions within each conference in 2002. If they want to fix it maybe consider 2 divisions within each conference (East, West). Top teams in each division get byes, next 4 teams are the wild cards. Wild card weekend match ups can then be determined off of league record. They can't have a division winner go on the road to play a "wild card" team under the current format. The whole purpose of winning the division is to get a home playoff game. As currently constructed things need to remain status quo.
 

Hendu for Kutch

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I'd love to see them implement a minimum record to get into the playoffs via division title.  Whether it's .500 or over .500, if you don't hit the minimum you still get the division title, but no playoffs for you.  An extra wild card would be added.  Is anyone going to be really upset if a team that can't even win half its games doesn't get a playoff spot?
 
Edit: It'll never happen, I realize.
 

Captaincoop

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Hendu for Kutch said:
I'd love to see them implement a minimum record to get into the playoffs via division title.  Whether it's .500 or over .500, if you don't hit the minimum you still get the division title, but no playoffs for you.  An extra wild card would be added.  Is anyone going to be really upset if a team that can't even win half its games doesn't get a playoff spot?
 
Edit: It'll never happen, I realize.
 
With roughly 40% of a team's schedule being played within the division, and the way the rest of the schedule rotates (partially based on the previous year's standings), the schedules are just too unbalanced to make that any more fair than the current system.  Comparing records across divisions is apples-to-oranges to the point that it is very easy to imagine, say, an 11-5 team being about equal to an 8-8 team in another division with another schedule.  At least winning the division guarantees one path to the playoffs that can be earned against teams that you face head-to-head twice and with whom you have a couple of other opponents in common.
 

krobe

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Off the top of my head I believe right now any two teams in a division will have 12 common opponents plus the two head to head games so you have a lot of information to determine who is the better team but two teams in different divisions in the same conference may have as little as two common opponents.  I don't think it is the case this year with these matchups but a wild card with a better record might just be because they had a much easier schedule.
 
/edit: or what captain coop said.
 

Captaincoop

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As an addendum - what Blue Monkey said about the move to 8 divisions is exactly correct.  Crappy teams are more likely to win a division and make the playoffs when you only have four teams per division.
 
Personally I find the four-team divisions ridiculous and would love to see that change.  But if you're going to keep the divisions, and the unbalanced schedules, then winning the division has to mean something.
 

candylandriots

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Here's another idea -- why should a team like Green Bay that gets a #4 seed with an 8-7-1 record, get the benefit of the better draft pick than SF or NO in addition to the home playoff game? It should be one or the other.
 

Dogman

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They only get a better pick if they lose to you, no? 
 
Regarding your overall point, winning your division has better rewards irrespective of division strength.
 

candylandriots

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Dogman2 said:
They only get a better pick if they lose to you, no? 
 
Regarding your overall point, winning your division has better rewards irrespective of division strength.
 
I'm a dummy. Never mind.
 

trekfan55

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jkempa said:
Here's another idea -- why should a team like Green Bay that gets a #4 seed with an 8-7-1 record, get the benefit of the better draft pick than SF or NO in addition to the home playoff game? It should be one or the other.
Edit:  Too slow to type, will not pile on.
 
Getting back on topic, unfortunately, winning the division should mean a home game (and I say unfortunately as a Niner fan).  The NFC West has gone from being a super weak division, with the 7-9 Seahawks winning it once, to a super competitive one.  BTW, they lost to Carolina 10-9 and lost to the Saints mainly because of a badly called penalty.  Win either of those two games and they win the tie breaker and Seattle goes to Green Bay instead.
 

Infield Infidel

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Captaincoop said:
 
With roughly 40% of a team's schedule being played within the division, and the way the rest of the schedule rotates (partially based on the previous year's standings), the schedules are just too unbalanced to make that any more fair than the current system.  Comparing records across divisions is apples-to-oranges to the point that it is very easy to imagine, say, an 11-5 team being about equal to an 8-8 team in another division with another schedule.  At least winning the division guarantees one path to the playoffs that can be earned against teams that you face head-to-head twice and with whom you have a couple of other opponents in common.
 
While it's easy to imagine middling team having a tough enough schedule to be equal to a team with more wins from another division, it's unlikely middling team would win its division against a tough schedule. Middling teams with tough schedules usually have the misfortune to have a team or two better within the division (like St. Louis this season; 7-9 and tied for second in SoS)
 
If a 7-9 team wins its division, that means the division has at minimum 24 combined losses to teams outside the division. The year Seattle finished 7-9 and won the west, 2010, the division went 13-27 vs teams from other divisions. They went 6-18 vs the rest of the NFC. The whole division has to be bad for a 7-9 team to win the division, and for the division to accrue that many losses. 
 
And chances are if a division is that bad, the intra-conference division that was lined up with them probably beat them soundly. Tampa Bay that year went 10-6, 4-0 versus the NFC West, and didn't make the playoffs. As many NFC West wins as Seattle in 2 fewer games. Carolina went 2-14, both wins agains the NFC West. NFC South went 13-3 vs the NFC West
 

redsoxcentury

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Seeding by regular season record is the correct way to go, even if division champs are seeded 5 and 6.  Winning a division should only act as an automatic berth to the postseason, not as a guaranteed way to host a playoff game.  The 49ers finished 12-4 and just because they are a wild card team have to go into a frozen Lambeau, giving home field to a frankly only above-average Packers team.
 
Otherwise I have no problem with the 4 division per conference format.
 

smastroyin

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The NFL schedule is so small and so loaded within division that I don't see why there shouldn't be a reward for winning the division, regardless of record.  
 
People are too concerned about fairness or whatever bullshit.  It's the playoffs.  Life isn't fair and football isn't really that important.  Deal with it.  Now, of course, the NFL is here to make money, and if they make more by doing this, then whatever, go ahead.
 

Hendu for Kutch

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Captaincoop said:
 
With roughly 40% of a team's schedule being played within the division, and the way the rest of the schedule rotates (partially based on the previous year's standings), the schedules are just too unbalanced to make that any more fair than the current system.  Comparing records across divisions is apples-to-oranges to the point that it is very easy to imagine, say, an 11-5 team being about equal to an 8-8 team in another division with another schedule.  At least winning the division guarantees one path to the playoffs that can be earned against teams that you face head-to-head twice and with whom you have a couple of other opponents in common.
 
Infield Infidel covers a lot of it, but I think it's pretty unlikely that an 8-8 team coming with 6 division games against .500 and under teams has a legit claim of being better than an 11-5 team with at least one team 11-5 or better with that division.  I don't think it's easy to imagine that at all, but if you can think of some historical examples, I'd be interested.  I do think it's extremely easy to imagine a team with 2 or 3 more wins being a better team than the 8-8 team though.  Your example seems like more of the rare instance than mine.
 

tims4wins

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I wouldn't mind seeing two 16 team conferences, with the schedules being completely balanced so that you play each of your conference opponent once, plus the team that finished in the same place as you from the other conference. Then the top two seeds could have byes, teams 3-6 would play in the wild card, and the world would be a better place.
 

Captaincoop

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smastroyin said:
The NFL schedule is so small and so loaded within division that I don't see why there shouldn't be a reward for winning the division, regardless of record.  
 
People are too concerned about fairness or whatever bullshit.  It's the playoffs.  Life isn't fair and football isn't really that important.  Deal with it.  Now, of course, the NFL is here to make money, and if they make more by doing this, then whatever, go ahead.
 
I don't think people are concerned with fairness as a pie-in-the-sky moral concept.  They're concerned about wasting their time following a football team all year only to see massive postseason competitive advantages handed out arbitrarily instead of earned on the field.
 
Most years in the modern NFL there are several second place teams that would be significant favorites over division winners on a neutral field.  That's the result of having so many small divisions.  It's not "fair", but without consolidating divisions, I'm not sure there is any viable solution that doesn't simply create different unfairness(es?).
 

Hendu for Kutch

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smastroyin said:
The NFL schedule is so small and so loaded within division that I don't see why there shouldn't be a reward for winning the division, regardless of record.  
 
People are too concerned about fairness or whatever bullshit.  It's the playoffs.  Life isn't fair and football isn't really that important.  Deal with it.  Now, of course, the NFL is here to make money, and if they make more by doing this, then whatever, go ahead.
 
So, we're message boarding again why?
 

smastroyin

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I didn't say not to talk about it.  I'm saying that worrying over and over about the fairness of playoff systems (in any sport) is kind of stupid to me.  Playoffs are going to be inherently unfair because any small edge or slight is magnified by the small sample.  To be completely clear, this is not unique to football, I also hate when people ramble on and on about how baseball and other major playoffs should be handled and I think I've been quite clear about it.
 
In general, people have this ability to make sports into a giant morality play that it is largely not.  Unfair things happen all of the time, changing seedings just to try and make things more equitable, when it is not at all clear that it is equitable or for what reason it needs to be equitable seems like a waste of time.
 
That said, as I mentioned, if the NFL thinks that they could make more money by increasing the odds of having the two best teams in the NFC championship game then fine.  And I presume this is actually the reason they are looking into changing it.
 

Stitch01

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Seems like a solution in search of a problem.  Football has the best playoff qualifying/seeding system of any of the four major sports, no real need to mess with it.  Changing the seeding has the possibility to lead to its own somewhat nonsensical outcomes too.  If the Chargers and KC win this week, would the Pats have to go to KC after the bye?  They lose tiebreak and have the same record.
 
If they want to radically restructure the playoffs to eliminate divisions altogether and do something like tims4wins suggests in the name of complete fairness, fine.  Otherwise just leave it be.  The nature of single game elimination means there's going to be lots of variance anyways.  A better team having to play on the road against a lesser team will lead to closer games, which is a big plus for me as a fan that is going to watch four full games this weekend not featuring my own team.  The playoffs are awesome and everyone loves them, just leave them be.
 

dynomite

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Captaincoop said:
As an addendum - what Blue Monkey said about the move to 8 divisions is exactly correct.  Crappy teams are more likely to win a division and make the playoffs when you only have four teams per division.
 
Personally I find the four-team divisions ridiculous and would love to see that change.  But if you're going to keep the divisions, and the unbalanced schedules, then winning the division has to mean something.
Agreed with all of this.

4 Divisions focuses on rivalries and creates more "marquee" games. It's not fair, but with so few games in football it's hard to create a fair system.
 

Hendu for Kutch

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smastroyin said:
I didn't say not to talk about it.  I'm saying that worrying over and over about the fairness of playoff systems (in any sport) is kind of stupid to me.  Playoffs are going to be inherently unfair because any small edge or slight is magnified by the small sample.  To be completely clear, this is not unique to football, I also hate when people ramble on and on about how baseball and other major playoffs should be handled and I think I've been quite clear about it.
 
In general, people have this ability to make sports into a giant morality play that it is largely not.  Unfair things happen all of the time, changing seedings just to try and make things more equitable, when it is not at all clear that it is equitable or for what reason it needs to be equitable seems like a waste of time.
 
That said, as I mentioned, if the NFL thinks that they could make more money by increasing the odds of having the two best teams in the NFC championship game then fine.  And I presume this is actually the reason they are looking into changing it.
 
Sure, I don't think anyone's worrying about it, and as I mentioned in my first post I don't think it'll ever happen.  So there's no sleep being lost here, just a theoretical opining is all.
 

Infield Infidel

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Stitch01 said:
Seems like a solution in search of a problem.  Football has the best playoff qualifying/seeding system of any of the four major sports, no real need to mess with it.  Changing the seeding has the possibility to lead to its own somewhat nonsensical outcomes too.  If the Chargers and KC win this week, would the Pats have to go to KC after the bye?  They lose tiebreak and have the same record.
 
They could do what the NBA does and have division title be the first tiebreaker.