We all know bad the NFC East is this season. They are the butt of all the jokes.
Three wins midway through the season is all it takes to lead the division. It’s pretty pitiful.
Especially when the six-win Seahawks lead the NFC West.
But one thought that has come to mind watching this season unfold is the need to ensure the best teams have exclusive rights to the Lombardi Trophy. It is time for the NFL to move away from a guaranteed playoff appearance for all division winners. The best teams, regardless of conference and division, should compete in the postseason.
And while the NFL is down the track of tweaking its playoff structure, no better time, right?
The NFL owners met Monday to discuss a resolution to extend the playoffs to 16 teams if games are lost due to COVID — continuing down an intentionally fortuitous path by the NFL this season. Eight teams per conference would make the playoffs, instead of the current setup of four division winners and three wild-card spots per conference that was instituted this season, an increase of one wild-card team from each conference.
This season the format has already been changed to seven teams per conference.
In 2016, the WNBA went to a postseason format in which the eight teams with the best record in the league, from both conferences, would make it, with seeding based on that record.
In the last few years, it has worked.
In 2016, we were rewarded with an excellent matchup of two Western Conference heavy hitters in the Finals, the Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx.
That matchup wouldn’t have been possible under the old playoff format. And this season’s Finals featured Las Vegas and Seattle, also two Western Conference teams. The two best teams, irrespective of conference, made it all the way to the Finals.
The NFL should consider implementing a similar playoff arrangement.
Now that Week 8 is complete, it will likely take six wins or less to win the NFC East while the NFC West fights it out as all four teams are .500 or better.
A 6-10 NFC East winner compared to a likely 12-4 NFC West winner is just wrong, with both teams guaranteed a home game. On top of that, the NFC West’s worst team will probably have a better record than the NFC East division winner and could end up on the sidelines.
If the season ended today, the 3-5 Eagles would play host to either the 5-3 Bears or 5-3 Rams under the current 14-team playoff structure. If the format is expanded to 16-teams the Eagles would face the 5-2 Cardinals or Saints.
I’m sure people will be talking — a lot -— if that happens.
In the last few weeks, we’ve gotten more than we bargained for of primetime NFC East play, exposing fans to some of the worst quarterback- and offensive-line play across the entire league.
We’d be fine with not seeing Philadelphia, New York, Dallas, and Washington in primetime anymore this season.
A change in the format will first allow for a test run of this type of format. Will it work? Is this feasible? Will it bring out the most competitive play on the field?
I think it will.
If the NFC East continues to play this poorly, it is time to reassess how the postseason is designed. Rewarding a team that can’t even win half its games — and possibly doesn’t win a third of their games — with a shot at the Lombardi Trophy is atrocious.
Let the best teams in the league compete for their shot at Super Bowl LV — at least this year.