Commentary

NFL playoff system isn't broken

Every system has flaws, but NFC West champs will have earned playoff berth

Originally Published: December 31, 2010
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Getty ImagesThe Rams and Seahawks will meet for a playoff berth; many are complaining about this situation -- but playoff format has always been a messy topic.

Naomi Klein's groundbreaking book "The Shock Doctrine" details how certain powers-that-be will use disasters as opportunities to implement policies that they would otherwise have trouble implementing.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the findings of Klein's tome, it is a fact that a crisis situation can be taken advantage of by those who are aiming to make changes.

That looks to be exactly what is happening with some members of the media and fandom in regards to the NFL's divisional playoff structure. They are attempting to use the potential crisis that is Sunday night's de facto NFC West division championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams as their football shock doctrine.

The main reason this contest is viewed as a potential playoff participant debacle is that if Seattle wins the game, it will win the division via tiebreaker and host an opening-round playoff battle despite finishing the season with a 7-9 record and losing five of their last seven games.

If St. Louis wins the game, it will win the division outright with an 8-8 record. The Rams aren't viewed as quite the same calamity, but some pundits are still extremely perturbed that a .500 club would be in the playoffs over three teams that could end the year with 10 wins (which would be the case if St. Louis, the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all win on Sunday).

As unfair as this scenario might sound on its face, a closer look at the situation shows this crisis is nowhere near as calamitous as many are suggesting.


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