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What If The NFL Lacked A Playoff Format?
Authored by Randolph Charlotin - 6th January, 2009 - 8:12 pm

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Aren't you glad that no New England player complained about being out of the playoffs despite their 11-5 record?

It's a relief we won't hear grown men whine about, "We should be in the playoffs! Waaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

Thank goodness the NFL's playoff system is straight forward, unlike college football's Bowl Championship Series.

The Dallas Cowboys can't make a case for being the top seed in the NFC because they beat the New York Giants once. Neither can the Indianapolis Colts expect to sway public opinion because they beat the Tennessee Titans in the final game of the regular season. Wins or losses should have equal value no matter when in the season they happens.

While an owner will occasionally plead for an expanded playoff format, he should be glad that the NFL has a playoff format. Just think of the alternative.

Super Bowl XLIII would be between The Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts. They get the nod because they both finished the regular season streaking: The Steelers won seven straight while the Colts won their last nine.

This wouldn't sit well with some teams. This is a rematch from earlier in the season. Who wants to see a rematch? Tennessee would, but playing Indy twice, including the season-ending loss, rules them out.

Carolina and the Giants would want in, but the Panthers lost in Week 16 while the Giants lost their finale. Minnesota loses out as well, thanks to a Week 16 defeat at the hands of Atlanta.

Speaking of the Falcons, winners of their last six games, they are the third seed and would play Miami, currently, on a five game winning streak, in the NFL.com Bowl.

Naturally this rankles the Patriots.

New England was the last team to beat the Dolphins, just five weeks ago. The Pats also had a tougher strength of schedule that included two teams with winning records, Pittsburgh (a loss) and Arizona (win). New England settles for the Geico Bowl against Minnesota. With 14 players on injured reserve, the Patriots need better insurance than luring linebackers out of retirement.

Arizona has a case, as well. They are one of two teams with an undefeated divisional record. Why aren't they playing the Steelers? Never mind the strength of schedule.

Maybe the most intriguing matchup would be between the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles in the Southwest Airlines Bowl. This is played in Miami because birds fly South for the winter.

Tennessee and Carolina play in the IdentityGuard.com Bowl for the right to use the moniker Smash and Dash for their respective backfield duo. Either the Panthers' DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart or the Titans' LenDale White and Chris Johnson will officially earn the label and own all merchandising rights. Pass plays won't be allowed in the game.

Because the Giants, finished the season 1-3, including a season-ending loss to Minnesota, they drop down and play Arizona in the Cialis Bowl. No date has been set for the game, but when the time is right, both teams will be ready.

San Diego reluctantly accepts the TiVo Bowl invite against the Denver Broncos. If you feel like you've seen the game before, then it's not just you.

And after all that, there still isn't an undisputed champion, just numerous champions. The tournament format has worked for years. Just leave well enough alone.


To read more by Randolph Charlotin, visit his blog at http://www.newenglandpatriotsnews.com/randolphc/weblog/. He can be reached at lordrc@verizon.net.