When the Seahawks made the playoffs in 2010 with an embarrassing 7-9 record, I thoroughly believed that was a once in a lifetime fluke, an occurrence that wouldn't happen for a very long time, if not ever again. Yet here we are, just 4 short seasons later, and once again a team with the inability to win even half it's games is not only going to make the postseason, but be rewarded a home playoff game to boot. As our former president once attempted to say, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Now that we've been fooled again, for the second time in 5 seasons no less, it's time for the NFL to address what I'd consider to be a significant flaw in it's system.
It was outrageous when Seattle made the playoffs 4 years ago over the 10 win Giants and Bucs. Not only did they finish with a much worse record, but they had been defeated soundly by both teams; the Bucs crushed the Seahawks 38-15 that year while the Giants absolutely destroyed them 41-7 in Seattle. Now this year we're looking at either the Panthers or Falcons "earning" a trip to the playoffs, while the Eagles will miss the playoffs with at least 2-3 more victories than either team.
I just don't understand the NFL's stubborn insistence on rewarding division winners not only a playoff berth, but a home playoff game as well. Why should a team receive an AUTOMATIC playoff berth regardless of record because of it's geographical location or the division it happened to be placed in? The "first place" Panthers would currently be in last place in 4 other divisions, while no higher than third in every other division in the NFL, Say what you want about the Eagles late season slide, had they been in the NFC South, they would have clinched the division THREE weeks ago, which should really speak volumes to the utter ridiculousness of the situation.
I think there's a very simple solution to this problem, the NFL should institute a .500 record requirement in order to make the playoffs. If you want to win your division and make the playoffs, you have to win at least 50% of your games. If you don't, your playoff spot will go to a more deserving team, So for example, this season the NFC South's playoff berth would rightfully be given to the Eagles, and their home playoff game would go to whichever of the wildcard teams has the best record or wins the usual tiebreakers that typically decide playoff spots and seeding.
I could see the NFL not making any changes when this happened in 2010, I'm sure they saw it as a fluke like most of the fans did. But now that this has happened twice in a relatively short span, there really should be action taken. Should the NFL really continue to reward mediocrity and allow future 7 win (or worse) teams into the playoffs, while giving them a home playoff game as well? It's pure insanity, in no way shape or form should the Panthers or Falcons even sniff the playoffs this year. The Panthers went eight weeks, roughly HALF the season without winning a single game, while the Falcons are a despicable 1-8 in games against teams outside of the NFC South. If the NFL is serious about having legitimate competition, they should put an end to this before it ever happens again.