I’m in the middle of writing a statistical analysis of why it’s better to be a 2 seed in the NFL than a 1 seed. Maybe I’ll finish someday, but maybe not. Either way, the way the NFL currently seeds is fairly ridiculous. If the idea of seeding is that the better teams face weaker opponents in the earlier rounds, then the NFL is failing miserably. Is there anyone, anywhere who thinks the Seahawks are a stronger opponent than the Packers, or that the Chiefs were a stronger team than the Ravens or Jets? (The answer is no.)
So I’d propose a new system of seeding. I’d keep the requirements for making the playoffs exactly the same (4 division winners and 2 wild card teams), but I would seed based on number of wins with ties going to the division winner followed by conference record. This would have produced seeding this year that looked like this.
1. New England Patriots
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. New York Jets
5. Indianapolis Colts
6. Kansas City Chiefs
1. Atlanta Falcons
2. Chicago Bears
3. New Orleans Saints
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Seattle Seahawks
Ironically, this would have produced all of the same wild car weekend match-ups, but the Saints, Jets, and Ravens would have gotten home games. Now assuming that all the games went the same way, we would have had Atlanta versus Seattle and Chicago versus Green Bay in the NFC divisional round. In the AFC, we would have still had all of the exact same match-ups.
While this system at least has the potential for consideration, here is an idea that would be simply incredible. However, the likelihood of this ever being considered is very, very low.
The idea was proposed in an email from my friend Brien:
“Here’s an idea that was trialled [sic] in the English Rugby Super League:
Instead of just giving the highest seed the lowest seeded team, they
actually ASK the highest seeded team whom they would like to play. So
if the NFL asked Atlanta whom they would rather play, do you really
think they would have said ‘Green Bay’?”
I don’t think Atlanta would have chosen Green Bay, but I do think this would be an awesome idea. How awesome would it be for Bill Belichick or Mike Smith come out to a press conference to call out another team? (The answer is: very awesome.)