Under the Headset  


Reseeding playoffs would add more meaning to Week 17 games


This is my annual futile attempt to propose to the NFL that it is time to consider reseeding the playoffs once the teams have been established.

How Billick would reseed playoffs
Teams would get in by winning the division and there would be two wild cards, exactly like it is now. Once the playoff field is set, the six teams in each conference already in the field are then seeded based on overall record. So, theoretically, a 10-6 division winner could be a No. 5 seed, and an 11-5 wild-card team could be a No. 4 seed.

The argument for the current system seems to be a singular one -- that there needs to be a substantial incentive to win a division, thus guaranteeing at least one home game. The fear is that winning a division will diminish in importance if that carrot is removed.

Really? A pass into the playoffs where everyone is alive isn't enough incentive to put your best effort out there? The opposite is true. If the playoffs were reseeded, you would see an additional two or three games, going into the last weekend, have more meaning.

Case in point are the Houston Texans. At 10-5, they are guaranteed the No. 3 seed regardless of what transpires this weekend against the Titans. In addition, the Titans have a not-so-unrealistic chance of grabbing a wild-card spot with a win. If I am the Oakland Raiders or the New York Jets, who both need the Titans to lose to have a shot at the postseason, it just doesn't seem right that they are playing a team that has no vested interest in winning the game.

In both conferences, the No. 4 seed is either going to be 8-8 or 9-7, whether it's Denver or Oakland in the AFC or Dallas or the N.Y. Giants in the NFC. In both cases, they will be hosting the fifth seed, who will have a better record. Either Detroit will be 11-5 or 10-6, and Atlanta will be 10-6. In the AFC, an 11-5 or 12-4 Pittsburgh Steelers team will go to the winner of the AFC West or the 11-5 Baltimore Ravens will.

The value of divisional wins has already been diminished with the possibility of an 0-6 divisional team sweeping the remaining 10 games and going 10-6. Last year the Kansas City Chiefs won the division at 10-6, but only went 2-4 in the AFC West.

Of course the poster child for those who say the division winner should get a home playoff game was the 2010 Seattle Seahawks, who won the anemic NFC West with a 7-9 record. The 11-5 New Orleans Saints had to go on the road to Seattle and promptly lost 41-36 to the Seahawks. No one is arguing that in today's NFL any team can't beat any other team on any given day. It still does not justify that a team with a lesser record should get a home playoff game.

The NFL has done a tremendous job of pushing divisional games to the back of the schedule forcing teams to win within the division to claim the crown or make the playoffs. Going into last week's games, 22 teams still had a chance at the playoffs. I am not suggesting that if the league goes to this format that they can push those kinds of numbers to the last game of the season, but they would certainly increase substantially the number of games that would have real meaning and create more competitive games in the final week of the season. There are only 16 games in a season, and it should be the goal to make as many of them as possible have real meaning.

Follow Brian Billick on Twitter @coachbillick



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