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How to prevent NFL teams from tanking in the last weeks of the season


AndrewG70

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After the Colts committed suicide with their perfect season last year, there was considerable chatter about how to prevent a team from tanking at the end of the season, not only to ensure maximum entertainment value for the fans (who wants to pay top dollar to see Curtis Painter at QB?), but also to prevent teams from letting other teams into the playoffs by playing their reserves. There were a few ideas -- none of which made any sense.

Here is the perfect plan:

Make the win-loss record over the last four regular season games the number-one criteria to determine home-field advantage for the conference championship games.

Under this plan, a team will have to play to win the game -- EVERY GAME. Had this been in place last season, the Jets and Vikings would have had home-field advantage for the conference title games.

This would not change how the teams are seeded or how to determine home-field advantage for the Wild Card and Divisional rounds. It would only affect the conference title games.

What do you think? Discuss.

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1. So you're saying an 8-8 team that sneaks into the playoffs after winning four in a row deserves to get home field advantage over a 15-1 team simply because they had a better December? No. Sorry. Now you're entering NASCAR / Minor-League baseball territory. Sorry, but it won't work.

2. Anyone who pays more than $30 to go to an NFL game is a damn fool anyway.

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I don't know what the hubub was about when the Colts chose to sit their starters & not chase perfection. Not like they needed to do it. Once you clinch homefield throughout the playoffs, you have NOTHING to play for, other than staying sharp to get ready for the postseason. It's like preseason all over again. Once you get to that point, you've earned the right to do what you want. Save all of this "record chasing" crap for baseball.

So yeah, I think that the system that the NFL has right now is good as it is.

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No. What's to stop a team that's 10-0 to tank a couple games before winning the last 4 games? Then folks like you will whine that the NFL should take away draft picks for teams that aren't trying their hardest to win games.

The purpose of hosting a conference championship game is to reward the team that had the better record throughout the entirity of the season.

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Not to thread-jack, but what about determining playoff seeding (at least between division winners) by whatever teams' defeated opponents have won the most games? That would at least end the situations where the winner of a division with 3 weak teams gets to coast into a high seed.

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Not to thread-jack, but what about determining playoff seeding (at least between division winners) by whatever teams' defeated opponents have won the most games? That would at least end the situations where the winner of a division with 3 weak teams gets to coast into a high seed.

The schedule remains too great a variable to do that. Depending of the divisions that come up on your rotation, a given team's likely record can fluctuate by 2 or 3 games.

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The easier way to do it, grant you it wouldn't guarantee anything, but you make the last three games division opponents. It doesn't guarantee that a team wouldn't have things wrapped up, but three division opponents means you'll have to fight for that division at the end of the year. Another thing you could do is to have a league wide bye week before the last three games that are division opponents. Then teams would have that much less of an excuse to sit star players at the end of the year.

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The Saints did the same thing the Colts did in the last three games and then beat the Colts for the championship. You think Saints and Colts fans gave a damn about the last three games?

The difference with the Saints is they did not wrap up home field throughout the playoffs until Minnesota lost to Chicago on Monday Night Football in Week 16 (one day after the Saints inexplicably lost to the Bucs). So in two of the three Saints' losses, they were actually trying to win those games -- unlike the Colts, who essentially lost their last two games on purpose.

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The Saints did the same thing the Colts did in the last three games and then beat the Colts for the championship. You think Saints and Colts fans gave a damn about the last three games?

The difference with the Saints is they did not wrap up home field throughout the playoffs until Minnesota lost to Chicago on Monday Night Football in Week 16 (one day after the Saints inexplicably lost to the Bucs). So in two of the three Saints' losses, they were actually trying to win those games -- unlike the Colts, who essentially lost their last two games on purpose.

First off, I don't suppose the Colts were deliberately trying to lose. They may have been fielding a below strength team, but everyone in a Colts uniform for those 4 games was trying to win.

My view has always been that a team that wraps up a division or home field advantage or whatever early wins the right to do whatever they want to as far as team selection later on. I guess the issue is when that corrupts another division title race. But thats got more to do with the luck of the schedule than anything else.

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About the only way that I could think of that might make the schedule slightly more interesting would be to have the first three games and the last games against the divisional opponents- or the last 3 out of four if it makes planning a little easier. That way you start and end the season against your closest rivals, you secure the division, if your season is in the crapper, you can always play divisional spoiler, and if you're on playoff cruise control, you might be slightly more inclined to have a strategy rather than just show up and tank.

Besides I've never been a fan of playing the same divisional opponent twice a few weeks apart. This way there's something at stake immediately as the season starts (drop 2 out of 3 and you'll have to play that much harder in the middle of the season), and it gives you the maximum amount of time to plan and prepare for the rematch. So if the first and last quarter of the season deals with divisional status, it might make it slightly more important. Could you imagine the Cowboys laying down for the Redskins even if they already had a berth locked up? Or the Pats dialing it in against the Jets? Or the Broncos and Raiders not being a dogfight? You get the idea. Divisional rivalries late in the season can always be intense,

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The Saints did the same thing the Colts did in the last three games and then beat the Colts for the championship. You think Saints and Colts fans gave a damn about the last three games?

The difference with the Saints is they did not wrap up home field throughout the playoffs until Minnesota lost to Chicago on Monday Night Football in Week 16 (one day after the Saints inexplicably lost to the Bucs). So in two of the three Saints' losses, they were actually trying to win those games -- unlike the Colts, who essentially lost their last two games on purpose.

And if they had won either of those two games they lost, you can rest assured the starters would have been coming out early in their remaining games.

Bottom line, both the Colts and Saints got to the Super Bowl. Evidently rust wasn't a problem.

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Wait, I thought we were talking about tanking. To prevent tanking in the last weeks of the season, then don't automatically give the first pick in the draft to the team with the worse record. Of course, having to give a $50 million guaranteed contract to a guy that's never taken one NFL snap might work, too. :P

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The easier way to do it, grant you it wouldn't guarantee anything, but you make the last three games division opponents. It doesn't guarantee that a team wouldn't have things wrapped up, but three division opponents means you'll have to fight for that division at the end of the year. Another thing you could do is to have a league wide bye week before the last three games that are division opponents. Then teams would have that much less of an excuse to sit star players at the end of the year.

Yes. Division games are such swing games that saving them for the end would help out a lot. You're right, it's not perfect - but it's pretty good.

Even better, play all of our out-of-conference games up front, so that your conference and division games are all back loaded. That would also make more games meaningful. What's worse than an interconference game in week 16 or 17 where one of the teams has nothing to play for? If it was a conference game, at least there's a chance that it will matter.

Play week 1-4 out-of conference, 5-7 division round 1, 8-14 intra-conference (with a bye in there somewhere), then 15-17 division round 2.

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Another thing you could do is to have a league wide bye week before the last three games that are division opponents.

Not to mention I won't have an excuse not to go Christmas shopping on a Sunday, instead of waiting until the last minute....

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Here is the solution to the problem; there isn't one.

The NFL owes it to its paying customers to at least try. There is no way to eliminate the risk of meaningless games, but if they can do anything reasonable to reduce that risk, they need to try it.

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The Saints did the same thing the Colts did in the last three games and then beat the Colts for the championship. You think Saints and Colts fans gave a damn about the last three games?

The difference with the Saints is they did not wrap up home field throughout the playoffs until Minnesota lost to Chicago on Monday Night Football in Week 16 (one day after the Saints inexplicably lost to the Bucs). So in two of the three Saints' losses, they were actually trying to win those games -- unlike the Colts, who essentially lost their last two games on purpose.

And if they had won either of those two games they lost, you can rest assured the starters would have been coming out early in their remaining games.

Bottom line, both the Colts and Saints got to the Super Bowl. Evidently rust wasn't a problem.

The issue with the Colts resting their starters is that had they not lost the game to the Jets, the Jets would have missed the playoffs.

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