Polian Unsure on Idea of Re-Seeding the Postseason
INDIANAPOLIS – Bill Polian can see both aspects of the issue.
On the one hand, the Colts' President said he can see the logic of those who want to see the NFL tweak its current playoff system.
On the other, the current system has merit, he said.
"I'm squarely on the fence," Polian said during the NFL Scouting Combine, which is ongoing this week at the RCA Dome in downtown Indianapolis.
"I obviously want to speak with (Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer) Jim (Irsay) and (Colts Head Coach) Tony Dungy about that, but right now, I'm right on the middle of the fence.
"I can see both arguments."
The NFL's Competition Committee, of which Polian is a longtime member, included in recent communications with teams a survey about the possibility of re-seeding the playoffs. The discussed format would alter what teams get homefield advantage in certain situations.
Currently, the four division winners in each conference are seeded 1-4 based on regular-season records, with the teams with the two best records receiving first-round byes and home games in the Divisional Playoff round. The two wild-card teams are seeded 5-6 and play on the road in the first round of the playoffs.
Some teams are proposing that the playoffs be seeded based on records, meaning a wild-card team with a better record than a division winner could host a game between the teams.
"We've discussed that and put it out on a survey," said Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay, a co-chair of the Competition Committee. "I don't think there's any consensus yet to what we would recommend."
McKay said the issue likely will be further discussed when the Competition Committee meets in March in Naples, Fla.
"I think there are two arguments," Polian said. "On the one hand, when we went to the eight divisions (in 2002) the theory was if you win the division, you should get a home game. That was the prevailing theory. The other side of the coin is that people say, 'If you win the division, you assure yourself of being in the playoffs. Then, you ought to go by the best record from there on out.'''
Said McKay, "The concern is that some of those divisions with only four teams can be weaker. "Accordingly, you can have some really good football teams in the same division and all of a sudden, you don't have the opunity for a home game. You can have a 12-4 traveling to a 9-7 based on our current configuration.
"The cons are we always emphasis the importance of, 'It's always important that you try to achieve that.' If you do under the current system, you get a home game."
Those for re-seeding believe it would encourage teams to play all available players further into a season. Often, teams that have clinched their playoff positioning will choose to rest players in late-season games.
"They're both persuasive arguments," Polian said. "The argument for seeding as it relates to late-game issues is when you're playing for seeding as opposed to playing for nothing, the likelihood is you will play more of your own players."
The Colts faced a similar situation this past season, when they played the Tennessee Titans in the regular-season finale having clinched the No. 2 position in the AFC. Several Colts front-line players did not play against Tennessee, which clinched a playoff spot with the victory, but Polian said Thursday nearly all players that missed the game for the Colts did so based physician's decisions.
"I think it's something we'll look at it and it's fair to say that's an issue," Polian said. "That's an issue we'll discuss."
McKay said the issue could be voted upon this year, and he said he was unsure if it would be implemented in the 2008 season if passed.
"There are definitely people on both sides and I think there are good arguments on both sides," McKay said. "Let us kind of work our way through it and see what all the issues are."
"There's a balancing act there. There are certainly some teams that seem to be on either side of the fence. We just want to kind of want to walk all the way through before we decide whether we want to have a proposal from the competition committee on the issue."
AN ISSUE OF SIZE: Another issue that likely will be discussed in Naples is that of preseason roster sizes, Polian said.
In past seasons, teams have entered training camps with 80-player rosters supplemented by as many as seven-to-10 players who had been allocated to NFL Europa. With the NFL having discontinued NFLE, Polian said preseason roster sizes likely will be readdressed.
"That's something we'll discuss," Polian said. "It's not something that has been discussed in any detail at this point. The issue of the fifth preseason game, at least in my mind, is not germane. The question would be how do we go forward with the idea being we don't have the NFLE exemptions any longer. We'll discuss that in Naples."