It seems that every NFL post season there is an uproar in regards to how the NFL seeds their playoff teams. Under the current format; each division winner as well as two wild card teams from each conference make the playoffs. The division winners with the top two records receive a bye, while the other two division winners in each conference host a playoff game against one of the wild card teams.
The NFL currently rewards it's division winners by giving them a home playoff game.
The uproar comes into play when one of the wild card teams has a better record then its division winning opponent. In this situation, the team with the better record is forced to begin their quest for the Lombardi trophy on the road. It's under these circumstances that pundits come out of the woodwork and demand the NFL change their seeding format.
These pundits, much like Dan Levy of Bleacher Report, feel as though the current seeding system is unfair. The thought process seems to be that it's not fair for a team with a better record to have to travel and play against a team with a lesser record. The other main reoccurring argument is that it's not fair for a team with a better record then a division winner to miss the playoffs while said division winner makes the playoffs.
First and foremost, life simply isn't fair.
The current system rewards you for accomplishing something during the regular season. If you win your division then you earn a home playoff game, it's as simple as that. Therefore, the easiest way to make the playoffs is to win your division. After a 16 game NFL schedule, the team that wins their division deserves that home playoff game. Taking away that reward for winning your division would hurt what the divisions stand for and the rivalries within the divisions.
Now sometimes there is a situation like there was this year with Denver/Kansas City in the AFC and Seattle/San Francisco NFC. These teams in the same division happened to have some of the best records in their conferences. Unfortunately, the team that didn't take their division was given a wild card spot and forced to open the playoffs on the road.
Is that really a big deal?
The 49'ers and the Chiefs had ample opportunity to win their respective divisions. However, they were not able to and the Broncos and Seahawks had better records and were rewarded accordingly. In this years opening round of the playoffs three out of four home teams lost and if it wasn't for a miracle in Indianapolis, it would have been four out of four. That being said, is home field advantage even really an advantage? If a team is better then another team shouldn't they win regardless of where the game is?
This isn't college football. This isn't a game played by kids that could be adversely affected by the location or environment of their game. These are professional athletes, playing for one of the greatest championships in American sports. We currently live in an NFL era where 9-7 wild card teams win Super Bowls and teams sweep multiple road games on their way to a championship. The bottom line being that in todays NFL, the better team generally wins.
This weekend the world will be watching the number one and two seeds battle in the AFC and NFC Championship games. The cream always rises to the top.
As far as a team missing the playoffs while division winners with lesser records making it, again sometimes life shakes out like that. In that situation; said NFL team not only lost their division, but they also didn't have the top two records on non-division winners in their conference. This isn't little league where everyone gets a trophy. Sometimes in the world of sports there is heartache and tough breaks.
At the end of the day it's simple. Those who win their division deserve to be rewarded (home playoff games) and those who don't have to fight everyone else for two playoff spots. If your favorite team with a superior record can't win a playoff game because they had to play on the road ... maybe they weren't that good to begin with.