As a Browns fan, my anxiety level this week is sky-high waiting for the team to play its final game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland. A playoff spot is on the line. Yes, with a loss, the team could literally finish the season with 10 wins and not make the playoffs.
Let’s look at the league-wide standings. Here’s the thing…
I stumble upon the NFC East and see that both the Washington Football Team and Dallas Cowboys are 6-9 on the year and are tied for first place. The NFL puts its division winners in the playoffs no matter the record compared to other divisions. Now, the Browns could miss the playoffs with 10 wins, (along with other better teams, too) while one of those two make it.
How is that fair?
The wild card is a lame justification to try and get more teams in the playoffs. It doesn’t solve the problem.
Now, one could say that divisions are good because of travel and rivalry games. This is true. Thus, the concept of divisions doesn’t need to be revoked or even changed. It’s how the playoff teams are picked and seeded that must be fixed.
The NBA has 30 teams. They are split into 15 for two conferences. The top-eight from each conference make the playoffs. Those teams battle it out and the winner of the East and West bracket matchup in the NBA Finals. The NBA does have divisions, but that’s for the aforementioned scheduling, rivalry and travel.
Basketball has a very similar problem, but it’s just stretched out compared to football. Hypothetically, teams in the east could have a better record than teams in the west, yet not make the playoffs due to their conference and vice versa.
It’s such a simple fix.
Take all the teams and order them by their record.
Decide how many playoff teams are desired compared to the league as a whole. 12, 16, etc.
Create a bracket and have the best team play the worst team (in a series) and so on and so forth.
Making these changes eliminates the fact that teams frequently play great, have a solid record and miss even a chance to compete in the postseason.
Now, if I was a Cowboys fan, would this article exist? Of course not. However, it is the fairest way to get the best teams in the playoffs and that glorious opportunity to compete for a championship.