>By Nick Gallaudet
The St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco 49ers are all either 6-8 or worse, yet one of them has to make the playoffs. There is no denying that this fact is pretty ridiculous. There is a very real possibility that there will be a 7-9 team hosting a first round playoff game. While Packers and Buccaneers fans are rightfully outraged that they may miss the playoffs while one of these scrubs makes the postseason, all I can say to them is, “deal with it.” This is the playoff system that American sports have adopted (outside MLS, which isn’t really American anyway) and it has worked pretty well so far. Like any system, there will undoubtedly be some minor glitches, and with four team divisions, the possibility of that is greatly increased. The fact is, however, that with watered down and expanded postseasons, more and more mediocre teams are going to make the playoffs. It was only three years ago that a 9-7 Arizona Cardinals team made the playoffs to similar outcry. All they did was make, and nearly win the Super Bowl. That’s the thing with sports today. There is so much parity in these leagues, that any given day, any team can beat another team. Certainly, there are dynasties in sports, but gone are the days that players like Bill Russell and Yogi Berra retire with infinity championship rings.
I completely understand the frustration of watching a team with a 7-9 record take up a playoff spot that could go to a team with a better record, but unless it was your team that was left out because of that team, you shouldn’t be complaining, because the road to the championship for your team just got that much easier. While this is a historically bad division (there have been nine 8-8 playoff teams, never one with a losing record) it is most certainly not a trend. In 2008, the New England Patriots went 11-5 and did NOT make the playoffs. It’s just part of sports. With expanded playoffs, more teams get a taste of the postseason and a shot at a title, and generally, I believe fans regard this as a good thing (as long as it doesn’t get too expanded). There is something inspiring in watching a team sneak into the playoffs and go on a championship run nobody saw coming, like the 2003 Florida Marlins or the 2007 New York Giants. I think it’s safe to say that only New England Patriots fans weren’t rooting for the Giants in 2007, and it’s things like that that make me okay with having a 7-9 team in the playoffs.