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Malik (12/27/10)

The Sunday games for the NFC West were more or less a joke.  Ok, it did matter for San Francisco, who is now out of play off contention.  However, with the Rams winning against the 49ers, the truth was that Seattle, who is still a potential play off team, had a game that didn't matter.  A win for Seattle meant a loss next Sunday would lead the Rams to claiming the division.  On the other hand, a win next week, even with a loss yesterday, means Seattle will win the division title by merely having the better division record.  Yes, Seattle and St. Louis are more or less tied at this point, despite the Rams having a better record by one win.  Next Sunday, in Seattle, the two teams will fight and decide the end of the season in one play off caliber game.

With the winner of the NFC West having a lame record a week from now, a lot of talk is coming around about how the play off system is broken.  I mean a great team like the Bucs may fail to make the wild card while Seattle may get in with a home field first game with a losing record.  Is it fair?  Who can honestly say.  The NFC West this season is not the's the exception.  Not every year finds a losing team making the play offs, but the current system does allow it to happen on rare seasons.  So, what will happen if the system is changed to allow only the top six records to make the post season for a conference?

The truth is, the change would be bad.  It would mean a team is fighting each division rival twice per year, making some lop-sided schedules.  What if Seattle was good this year, and made the play offs with a great record, but had to face the other three NFC West teams six total times?  In other words, what would happen in 2005, when Seattle had an amazing record and the rest of the NFC West was weak?  Well, other teams would see pissed off fans when their teams don't make it, despite some great skill.  I mean the Jets, for example, must  face the amazing Patriots twice a year when Seattle may never face them.  Does this give Jets fans a reason to cry foul?  Yes, in this situation.  So, then you say that maybe each team only faces each other once at most per year...and you watch as fans cry foul when they cannot see their team face the division rivals at home each year.

Either you face a rival only once per year, and change the method to seed play off teams, or you keep the system as it is and allow the rivalries to continue.  One way, the first, would make regular season play less enthralling when you lose the chance to see all your rivals at home and away to truly show who dominated your division.  The other method keeps the system as it is and allows for better regular season play with the potential for this season to occur.  It was happened around three times in the last 30 years when a team with an 8-8 record or worse has made the play offs.  However, this is basically one time per decade.  Is it worth trying to fix a nearly working system and risk breaking the regular season?  Not in my eyes.

Yes, I am a Seattle fan (pity me).  I sound biased for this reason.  However, there are times when the NFC East and NFC South have both been lame duck divisions.  I mean you sometimes have glory, but the Falcons, Saints, Cowboys, Eagles, and Bucs have all been crap in the past.  I am being nice by not bringing up the usual crap teams (Carolina for example) out of respect for these fans who have not had much fortune on their franchises.  So, as a NFL fan, and not just a Seahawk fan, I can see that the system can be bad all around.  However, I'd rather see Seattle face three rivals twice a year than see what could be seen as a more balanced seeding system.  Right now, the only common instance of a screw job for the league is how the draft occurs, since the Bills (for example) get an advantage since they faced the Pats, Jets, and even the Dolphins twice this year, making for a better draft pick just by playing where they play.

Anyway, it's one of those things that I see as a common problem in sports; the knee jerk reaction.  This year the NFC West is going to be sad in the post season and will be eliminated after the first game begins.  However, it's one season.  Last year the Cards, I hate to say, were damned good under Warner's arm.  Three years ago, the Seahawks were nothing short of brilliant.  Next year, even if they don't do good this season, I see the Rams as being amazing as Bradford finds more experience.  The NFC West will not continue to be this bad, but the division will always have at least two teams that are not even playing at a high school level.  However, each division will always have a loser team (this year I see the Vikings, Bills, Cards, Cowboys, Titans, Texans, Bengals, and so on all being sub-par in their division).  Sometimes these teams are clustered, and it's easy to see why it's the NFC West this season with so many fresh quarterbacks and coaching changes.  Unless the problem remains year after year of a loser being in the play offs, you need to just accept that you'll have one bad season each decade or so.  Well, the bright side says this decade just started, so we're all due, as NFL fans, 2011-2019 to be amazing.  Let's leave the knee jerk reaction at the door and worry about more important problems, like the potential of a lock out next year.


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