16 August 2012

A Stick Instead of a Carrot

Commissioner Roger Goodell showed justifiable concern over wholesale benchings of starters. He openly expressed a desire to give teams an incentive to play to win after clenching playoff berths, divisional titles or home-field advantage. He dangled the possibility of draft picks the following year's draft as an enticement. However, it is obvious that players and coaches care little, if at all, about the possiblility of more prized rookies in training camp of the next season. They focus on the "here and now" in the waning weeks of the regular season. That is to say, keeping stars on the bench where they do not risk injuries in meaningless games. The injury of Wes Welker in the Patriots' last regular season game reinforced that philosophy.

Instead the Commissioner will have to resort to more heavy-hand approaches.
1. Playoff seeding according to overall record. No longer will divisional champions automatically receive higher seeding with a home game in its first playoff game. That will motivate teams like the Cardinals to improve on their mediocre record in the past two seasons to strive for more wins after wrapping up the crown of the weakest division in the league.
2. Revoke playoff berths for teams without winning records or at least ten wins. If a team can win 11 or more games yet end up as a wildcard due to a competitive division, why should the winner of a mediocre division leap over a second place team with three or more wins?

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