Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Patriots and playoff format rant

First, the Patriots:  Look at this list of the top winning teams in the last four NFL seasons -- New England, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Atlanta, New Orleans -- and tell me which one of those teams do the Patriots most resemble.  Answer coming up shortly.  You want to say they're most like Pittsburgh, etc, because of the relatively recent Super Bowl success and all the regular season wins but the Patriots are most like the Falcons because over the last four years neither of them has a playoff win.  All of the other teams in that list have won playoff games over that span.  So until the Patriots start turning the best regular season win totals in the league into playoff success, you should view them the same way you view the Falcons -- gee, that's nice but not good enough after awhile.  The Falcons have won just 5 less regular season games over the last 4 years than the Patriots.
When you add that bit of information to the way the Patriots have played over the last few regular season games this year -- getting way behind because the defense couldn't stop a Pop Warner team and then the offense wakes up and they win big -- is a potential recipe for another early playoff exit, especially if what I'm going to rant about in a minute comes to fruition.  Letting teams march down the field against you unabated for the first 3 or 4 series of a game at the same time the offense is taking a nap is a recipe for getting your ass kicked in the playoffs against teams that have the defensive and offensive might and balance to keep you down enough so that you can't quite catch up.  Yes, the defense rises up situationally and does enough to halt the onslaught while the Patriot offense overwhelms bad teams into playing a way they're not comfortable, creating turnovers and quick outs and field position.  Will that work against the likes of the Steelers and Ravens?  Probably not.  I don't even like the odds of it working against the Bengals or Texans.
We'll see for this year but the front office and player development and scouting departments need to start doing a whole lot better job in the draft when selecting defensive players, and the team needs to decide that great defensive players like Richard Seymour, Asante Samuel, et al, are worth their weight in Super Bowl glory and pay them to stay. 
So while I would rather be a Patriot fan than a Bills fan, winning a lot of regular season games is unsatisfying.  And let me ask you a question about the Super Bowl.  As a Patriots fan, would you rather make it to the Super Bowl and lose or not make it at all?

Now, on to a quick rant about the playoff format.  What is the point of being the #1 seed if you could end up playing the third best team (arguably the best team) in the second round?  Because the NFL seeds division winners with bad records higher than wild card teams with great records AND then doesn't reseed them after the first round, you're better off being the #2 seeded Ravens than you are the #1 seeded Patriots, unless the Bengals beat the Texans.  The Steelers won one less game than the Patriots and are arguably the best team in the AFC but are the 5th seed.  If the Steelers beat the Broncos (yeah right, if) and the Texans beat the Bengals, then in the second round you'll have the 12-3 Patriots, the #1 seed, playing the 11-4 Steelers, the #5 seed, while the 11-4 Ravens, the #2 seed, play the 10-6 Texans, the #3 seed.
I understand and can live with giving the division winners the higher seed in the first round and hosting a playoff game but then everyone should have to reseed after that first round based on record.  This has been a repeated issue since the NFL went to four divisions.  Every year you have a bad team winning a bad division hosting a playoff game against a much better team, which is kinda unfair to the better team, but it makes a mockery of the seedings and gives unfair advantages to lower seeded teams over higher seeded teams.  Yup, I am afraid of the Steelers but fair is fair, we shouldn't be seeing them in the second round.  If I had my way, there'd be two conferences and six teams make the playoffs from each conference based solely on record and seeded accordingly.  I'd even rather have 8 teams with the traditional 1 versus 8 and so on matchups without a bye week than what we have now.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to say something but football season ended two days ago for me.

Seriously I get the playoff rant but it is what it is. Wild card teams get to beat up on the 3 and 4 seeds in the first round while 1 & 2 get the week off.

Brent said...

Remember when the #1 seeds were whining that they had to play the #4 seed when the #6 knocked off the #3 seed back a while ago? Well, then the NFL changed the playoff format so that the lowest seed played #1. So now, because the Patriots might have to play the Steelers in the Divisional Round, you are whining about it? Deal with the rules that were laid out at the beginning of the season and enjoy your team being in the playoffs. After all, some of us support teams that play in tough divisions, not the creampuff AFC East.

Zebster said...

I don't remember that whining, Brent. Who did it and why because it doesn't make sense to me. Be that as it may, I'm not whining...just pointing out that it really shouldn't be that way. That aside, if we want to win the AFC, we're gonna have to beat one of those 2 teams. I just think anyone would agree that the #1 having to beat the true #3 and the #2 isn't the way it should be. But you're right, it is what it is.
If your argument is that the Pats wouldn't be the #1 but for the fact they play in the AFC East, you're probably right.