The NFL Playoff Format Needs Changed

The NFL Playoff Format Needs Changed

Jarrett Bailey, Sports Writer

The NFL regular season has reached its halfway point, and the standings, especially the playoff standings in the AFC are worthy of a head scratch. If the NFL season ended today, here is what the playoff picture would look like in the AFC:

  1. Bengals (8-0)
  2. Broncos (7-0)
  3. Patriots (7-0)
  4. Colts (3-5)
  5. Raiders (4-3)
  6. Jets (4-3)

Now, looking at that, the obvious outlier is the Colts are the 4th seed with a below .500 record, the reason being because the NFL rule says that if a team wins their division, they automatically earn a top 4 seed in it’s respected conference’s playoff picture. This means that the Colts would host one of the two wildcard playoff games, but teams like the Steelers (4-4), who have more wins and a better winning percentage wouldn’t even be in the hunt for a Super Bowl. Now, we’ve seen this just one other time in NFL history in 2009 when the Seahawks won a playoff birth by beating the Rams on the final day of the 2009 regular season while finishing with just a 7-9 record. And, lo and behold, the Seahawks got the privilege of hosting the wildcard game and won in one of the most unexpected wins in history as they beat the Saints on Marshawn Lynch’s unforgettable touchdown run. This situation raises the serious question: Should the NFL playoff format be changed? I say yes, and I think I even have a solution to the problem; If a team wins their division with a sub .500 record, they secure a playoff spot if and only if there is no other team on the bubble who does not have a record of at least .500. If there is a case that there is a situation like this, then the Number 4 seed would be eliminated from contention, the Number 5 seed would get bumped up to the 4 seed, and the first bubble team would get the Number 6 seed.

For example, let’s say that we end the season looking like this:

  1.  Bengals (13-3)
  2. Patriots (12-4)
  3. Broncos (11-5)
  4. Colts (7-9)
  5. Raiders (9-7)
  6. Jets (9-7)

Bubble Teams:

  1. Steelers (8-8)

If we had a situation like this, and someway my rule was put in effect, the Colts would be eliminated and the Raiders would be the Number 4 seed. The Jets would then take the Number 5 seed, and the Steelers would be the Number 6 seed. This is definitely something that needs consideration, and something that would make NFL season that more exciting for some teams, and nerve-racking for others.