This will be the first time in NFL history that a losing team will make the playoffs. Of course, Seahawks fans all over the Northwest and eastern Siberia are geeked-up and excited to see their “division champions” take on the defending Super Bowl champion Saints at home on Sunday. Somehow the Seahawks lived to fight another day.
I understand, though, that while I mock these geeked-up Seahawk fans for being so excited about their post-season dreams, I would have the same zealous attitude if the Broncos somehow found their way into the playoffs with a losing record. I guess it’s great to be alive, even if you are a loser.
At the beginning of every season, NFL coaches set goals for the team, like lead the league in rushing or sacks. For most teams it's win 10 or 11 games and hopefully that will win the division. This wasn’t the case for coach Pete Carroll in Seattle, who only needed to set the bar at seven games and his team was in. That’s because his schizophrenic team finds itself among the Cardinals (5-11), the 49ers (6-10) and the new-and-improved Rams who also ended the season at 7-9. There was never a true leader in this division. At one point the Seahawks looked to be the best. Then they looked to be the worst in the division. Up until the very last game of the season, I had my money on the Rams. They all played terrible football, yet the winner of this loser division gets a chance to play for a Super Bowl.
There has to be something wrong with this scenario. Do playoff rules need to be changed to include a caveat that says teams with losing records cannot go to the playoffs? From the standpoint of the New York Giants or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, maybe so.
The Giants thumped the Seahawks on their home turf 41-7 in week nine but missed the playoffs, even though they had a better record of 10-6. I feel more sorry for the Bucs. After being picked to be the worst team in the NFL before the season started, Tampa Bay missed the playoffs with a 10-6 record. The Bucs beat all four NFC West teams this year. And they beat the Saints in New Orleans last weekend in a must-win game.
While the Seahawks, in comparison to the Bucs or the Giants, may not deserve to be in the playoffs, they did what they had to do and that’s win the division. Until now, the regular season weeded out the riffraff. And the riffraff that did make it into the playoffs were called wildcards.
So here the Seahawks go. Let the dreamers dream. They are at home and face the defending world champions on Sunday. In this instance, I would almost rather be in Carroll’s shoes than in those of Saints’ coach Sean Payton, who now finds himself in a do-or-die trap game against an opponent that has both everything and nothing to lose at the same time. The Saints only have everything to lose this weekend. If the Seahawks lose, well, they lost because they probably didn’t belong there. If they win, the surprising Cinderella story rolls on.
And who knows what team the Saints will face on Sunday? Carroll’s multiple-personality Seahawks could bring the impressive team that beat the 11-5 Bears in week six, or they could bring the team that lost to the 4-12 Broncos in week two.
Either way, if I were Pete Carroll I wouldn’t set the bar too high for the playoffs. Maybe set a simple goal of achieving a winning season. Hey, if they reach that goal, they will be Super Bowl champions.