Monday, January 3, 2011

The 2011 NFL Playoffs

Happy New Year to everyone! I made two resolutions in reference to Sterling Shakers: 1) To post more frequently and keep our many readers engaged. I made this public last week and will do my best. 2) To attempt to limit my run-on sentences that add to my long windedness and frustrate some people that later on call me out on it to one or at most two per post (that’s one!). In all seriousness, I will better edit my writing to make it more readable, and to make myself seem like less of a ranting lunatic.

I cannot remember a time in my recent memory (meanwhile the NFL is not my specialty in terms of pre-1996 so I’m sure someone else can come close) where the playoff picture was this… strange. Yes, that is a good word for it... strange. I can't call it an abortion, say teams got raped, etc., because this is the nature of divisional play. I know Grau Geist and his wisdom to fix the MLB and NFL to perfection (i.e. making penalties reviewable and changing the MLB playoffs) is definitely more suited to write this. However, I hope my comments will simply get him going on this site again and he'll write a rebuttal or something.

The first order of business the NFL needs to deal with this offseason (other than a lockout?): A team with a losing record simply should not make the playoffs. The 7-9 Seattle Seahawks got an ever-so-painful to watch win last night against the St. Louis Rams. Charlie "Who's that? No really, who is that?" Whitehurst, making his second NFL start ever, was described as “almost perfect” by Michaels and Collinsworth in the booth. Now, while the Rams showed promise all season as a much better team than last season, they simply aren't the most equipped team either. For Whitehurst to complete 61% of his passes for under 200 yards and a touchdown does not deserve that kind of a compliment. He simply wasn’t bad enough to lose the game,and his defense held a one dimensional offense to no touchdowns so they won. More simply, the Seahawks second string quarterback beat a second rate team to get into the playoffs.

To put this in perspective, the 7 and 9 Seahawks are one of the 12 teams to make the playoffs. This is saying they are in the top 35.7% of teams in the NFL (12 of 32). However the following teams all missed the playoffs: Rams and Dolphins (both 7-9) had equal records to Seattle, Raiders and Jaguars finished 8 and 8, Chargers finished 9-7, and the Giants and Buccaneers finished 10-6. These are 7 other teams equal or better than the Seahawks when omitting division play. Take SOMETHING else into account here. Football doesn’t really allow for 1 game playoffs like Baseball could, but there are so many stats followed that could decide this rather than if you beat your horrible division. Strength of schedule? Net points? Hell I’d even settle for number of pro-bowlers on the roster! The real kicker is how this team will now play AT HOME against the Saints that went 11-5 in the first round of the playoffs. Just too much to be said about this. Let’s look at the good side - going off at 150 to 1 to win the Superbowl as of this morning, the Seahawks may be worth your $5 investment as noted by a friend of mine via facebook.

The Colts will host the Jets, the Chiefs host the Ravens, and the Seahawks the Saints. Why is this strange? The Jets had a better record than the Colts, the Ravens better than the Chiefs, and the Saints better than the Seahawks. The Eagles who host the Packers, are even with them at 10-6, however the Cheese head Packers beat the Dog loving Eagles in week 1 this season IN Philly. Simply switch the location for all of these wildcard playoff games and you’d get it right.

Those are my two main gripes. This is my favorite stat at season's end. Quiz time: Who had the best divisional record this year? If you guessed the 14-2 Patriots, you’d be wrong. While the Pats finished 5-1 in the AFC East (losing only to the Jets once), the 8 and 8 Oakland Raiders would be the correct answer. Going 6-0 in the AFC West, the Raiders become just the second team ever to go undefeated in their division and miss the playoffs. According to the NFL what you do in your division is absolutely insignificant unless you beat the same amount of other teams (but it doesn’t matter who) outside the division as someone else in your division. Congrats boys!

Screw it… I’m done. This is actually making me sorry I used the word "strange" before and not the acronym "FUBAR." This divisional way of seeding the playoff matchups is disgusting. Why play the other teams at all? All I know is that it is wrong for a 7 and 9 team who gave up 97 more points this year than they scored, to have a shot at the Super Bowl. You can argue the Saints were bestowed upon them a BYE week of sorts (anything can happen I know but come on!). Some of you may think I am just a bitter Giants fan, that at 10-6 we didn’t get in. This is not true. Giants lost to the Packers and lost to the Eagles twice. Under my psudo-rules that I didn’t even bother to outline of come up with, I’d leave them out of the picture too over those guys (Note: Just remembered the Giants pooped on the Seahawks in week 9, 41-7, so maybe they do deserve it). However the Buccaneers maybe deserve the nod more? I don’t even know because I think I read that they only beat one team with a winning record this year. I will not go check because it is moot. I know what team doesn't deserve it. Truth be told, I'd have been happier with any of the other 5 teams with better records taking their spot for any reason. I’m also not saying to get rid of divisions completely – the rivalries are awesome for the game – but someone much smarter than I am needs to fix this when there are at least 5 and perhaps 7 better teams sitting than one is in the playoffs.


  1. Did the Seahawks win the division? I thought that they were the best of the worst? And they get to host a playoff game? Them making the playoffs doesn;t bother me so much as them getting to host a playoff game. Even if the Rams won at 8-8, I would be annoyed.

    One other thing the NFL should consider: I don;t expect the Seahawks game to be watchable. The game last night sure wasn't. The great thing about the NFL is you can usually watch any two teams play. I'll sit that game out, thanks.

    Oh, and why can;t we just combine the West and South Divisions in both leagues, throwing one team each to the East and North? There are no real rivalries in the South or the NFC West. Make it a six team superdivision in each league.

  2. Good point. They didn't win the division... they simply didn't lose it. I like that.

  3. I will also add - being a lot of you are Jets fans - an excerpt from my facebook chatting with some "fans" (friends I make read it and talk to me). This was after I was asked if I REALLY believed the Jets should host the Colts:

    Realistically the Colts are much better, at least offensively, than the Jets. As a complete team, yes. But, why do the Jets get penalized for going 4-2 in their division, just like the Colts in theirs, and have one more win than them? Because... they didn't win the division? That should be more for the argument argument that the Jets deserve the home field because the AFC East won 6 more games than the AFC South. Tougher competition AND a better record. Realistically I think the Jets need to play the game of their lives or Peyton has to be human in this game for them to stand a chance. Sanchez will have a lot of trouble with Robert and Dwight I think. In the Meadowlands? Perhaps we get snow, rain, ice, flying fucking pigs get in the way of his perfect passes and the footing of the d-linemen. In Indy, the Jets are at a severe disadvantage and don't deserve it entirely.

    Long story short, yes, I do believe the team with the best record should host the game.

  4. Keep in mind the Jets did beat the undefeated Colts in Indianapolis last year to end their 14-0 record.

    But also keep in mind the Jets needed to win out to get into the playoffs, and would eventually lose to the Colts again.

    Should be interesting.

  5. as a giants fan we are going to leave them out of this dicussion... buttttttttt come on it is unbelivable that the seahawks are in! it is a wasted game ... i know its football "any given sunday" but we can all agree that they are not gonna beat the saints!!
    i know this is the 1st time in nfl history this is happened but i think there needs to be a rule... no team with a losing record should b alowed in.. if it happens there sould b a 3rd wild card or something...


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