With a win on Monday night, over Washington the Dallas Cowboys pulled to just one game of the NFC East lead with a record of 4-8. Meanwhile, there is a three-way tie atop the cesspool of a division with Washington, Philadelphia and New York entering Week 14 with records of 5-7.
You see where this is going, right?
The winner of the division will be lucky to finish with a record of 8-8, meaning we’re likely going to see a playoff game hosted by a team with a record of 7-9 — or worse.
This, by itself, is unacceptable.
But because division winners automatically gain higher seeds than the wild card teams do, this injustice will be endured for the third time in six years. The 2010 Seattle Seahawks famously got into the playoffs with a record of 7-9 and beat the New Orleans Saints in Seattle before losing in the divisional round to the Chicago Bears.
Then the Carolina Panthers got in last year with a record of 7-8-1, beating the Arizona Cardinals at home in the wild card before losing to Seattle in the divisional round.
It’s quite conceivable we’ll see the same thing happen again this year, too.
It’s almost a given a team like Seattle, Minnesota or Green Bay will either be forced to play on the road in the wild card or miss the playoffs altogether after winning 10 games. In 2010 the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers missed the playoffs with records of 10-6. Last year the Eagles missed out on a postseason berth because of Carolina’s automatic bid with a record of 10-6.
Division winners should no longer be gifted access to the playoffs. The entire system needs to be re-worked so that the teams with the best records get into the playoffs and that the home teams have earned that home-field advantage.
Perhaps after the NFC East is won by a 6-10 or 7-9 team the owners will finally remedy this problem so that we never have to endure another playoff experience in which a sub-.500 team is hosting a playoff game while players from a 10-win team watch the action from their couches at home.