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A plea to fix a flawed system

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“Who cares?”

That was the overwhelming response when I asked football fans which team would win last Sunday’s playoff-berth-on-the-line game between the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks.

Now, a lot of people care.

Seattle won, becoming the first playoff team ever with a full season’s losing record.

That is a travesty. I have a plan to fix it.

I believe former Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora said it best in 2001: “Playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game.”

Mora was referring to his own team more than nine years ago, but the answer is reminiscent of this season’s Seahawks.

Seattle ended the season 7-9. By rule, the champion of a division is awarded a playoff spot and guaranteed a home game in the wild card round. So, not only is a sub-.500 team in the playoffs, but one also will host the 11-5 New Orleans Saints on Saturday.

Many football fans, especially those in New York and Tampa, Fla., are upset. The Giants and Buccaneers are left out in the cold this postseason with nothing but their respective 41-7 and 38-15 drubbings of Seattle to comfort them.

Where is the justice? Both 10-6, New York finished second and Tampa Bay third in their divisions. Seattle would be no higher than third in any other division.

According to a Seattle Times online survey conducted prior to last weekend’s game, even Seattle fans were rooting for their team to take a loss to preserve its draft position. With a loss, the Seahawks would have owned the 14th overall pick in the draft, and with the win, now drop to at least the 21st.

The term “underdog” seems like an understatement here. Seattle scored 97 fewer points than its opponents. Second worst among playoff teams, the Kansas City Chiefs scored 40 more points than their opponents.

Even if, by some divine miracle, the Seahawks earn a victory this weekend, they cannot achieve a winning record without winning the Super Bowl.

The NFL needs to look into a new system of playoff seeding during the annual owners meetings this offseason. While basing playoff teams solely on record undermines the spirit of competition within divisions, something needs to be done.

I know there are dozens of options, but here’s my idea: If a team with a losing record wins its division, the teams should be reseeded according to record. If seeded by record, New Orleans would be a No. 2 seed this season and given a first-round bye and second-round home game.

The NFL needs to be proactive and prevent future injustices like this situation.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll began his postgame press conference by saying, “We feel very fortunate to have been in a situation tonight, to have the opportunity to win the division.”

The fortune of Carroll and the Seahawks is the misfortune of football fans everywhere. Enjoy your virtual bye-week, New Orleans.

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