There’s no bigger TV event in America than the NFL playoffs. Every year, the top television programs are almost exclusively all NFL playoff games, with conference title games scoring around 50 million viewers, and the Super Bowl more than double that.
The format has changed in recent years, but the fundamentals remain the same. All division winners get their first playoff game at home, and for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best division winners that comes against the three wild card teams in the Wild Card Round. For the top seed, they get a bye and host the team with the lowest seed remaining in the Divisional Round.
But, this format allows a divisional champion team with a much worse record than a wild card team, like what happened this year when the Dallas Cowboys (12-5) traveled to the 8-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But, the Chargers are trying to change the format. Here are more details courtesy of Pro Football Talk.
The Chargers have proposed a change to the NFL bylaws that would seed wild card teams higher than division winners in the playoffs if the division winner had a losing record and the wild card team had at least four more wins than the division winner.
That would have come into play last year, when the 8-9 Buccaneers won the NFC South and got the 4 seed, while the 12-5 Cowboys were a wild card team and got the 5 seed. When the two teams met in the playoffs, it was at Tampa Bay. Under the Chargers’ proposal, the Cowboys would have been the 4 seed, the Buccaneers the 5 seed, and the playoff game would have been in Dallas.
That seems to be a good change that balances rewarding divisional winners while also rewarding great wild card teams with home games. Who knows if it will become the NFL rule, though.