Every year it seems as if one team makes the playoffs that truly shouldn’t. Last season the Carolina Panthers made it in with a losing record of 7-8-1 by winning a terrible NFC South.
The problem looked worse when at 10-6, the Philadelphia Eagles were left out of the playoffs despite the far superior record.
In 2013, the Green Bay Packers made the playoffs with a record of 8-7-1 while the 10-6 Arizona Cardinals had to watch the playoffs unfold from home.
Every year such an event unfolds, rage from fan bases of the team who missed the playoffs incites talk of NFL realignment.
Thanks to perhaps the worst division in the NFL this season (the NFC East is close but at least has one winning team) the conversation has started after just seven weeks this year.
The AFC North leader Cincinnati, the AFC West leader, Denver and the AFC East leader, New England are all undefeated at 6-0. Then, there is the AFC South with the best team sitting at 3-4, and not looking remotely competitive while getting that record.
In fact, the Colts may be the most overrated team the NFL has ever seen. This year they are undefeated (3-0) in the AFC South and cannot buy a win out of it (0-4). In 2014 and 2013 they were 6-0 in the South and 5-5 out of it. This season they avoided fixing their offensive and defensive line issues and now look inept outside of the AFC South.
The Colts still stand to make the playoffs despite not being able to compete away from their division and Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk thinks there is no reason for this;
"Do we really want to put an AFC South team in the playoffs? The Colts are 3-4 and playing so badly that Chuck Pagano may be fired before the season is over. But they’re also in first place in their division and likely to host a playoff game in January. Bad teams shouldn’t host playoff games. Switching from eight four-team divisions to four eight-team divisions would be a simple way for the league to avoid a situation like we’re seeing in the AFC South this year, where there’s a division without a good team, and therefore a bad team in the playoffs."
While there is something to be said for winning your division and making the playoffs, the NFL should be about the fans. It is not fair that fans of the Eagles and Cardinals watched their teams miss the playoffs as inferior opponents went into the post season.
It won’t be fair to see a team like Pittsburgh or Oakland miss the playoffs this season while Indy (which is threatening to win their division at 6-10) could be in the postseason tournament.
While realignment may seem drastic, if the AFC South winner ends up with a bad enough record, the league may be forced to reconsider their current format and allow fans of good teams to see their favorite players in the post season while teams with a losing record go home as they should.