The next annual league meeting of the NFL is scheduled to begin on Sunday, March 26, and there has already been a lot of discussion over some of the proposed rule changes.
The NFL considers proposals to the rules of the game after each season in order to improve player safety and fan engagement.
When NFL owners meet in Phoenix this weekend, they will also have a handful of bylaw proposals to vote on as well.
This year, five bylaw proposals were submitted: two by NFL Clubs and three by the NFL Competition Committee.
The proposal submitted by the Los Angeles Charges, if implemented, would impact playoff seeding in certain situations. It is a proposal that would have made the Dallas Cowboys a four-seed instead of a five-seed in the most recent playoffs had it already been in place.
PLAYOFF SEEDING PROPOSAL
Currently, the seven NFL postseason participants from each Conference are seeded as follows:
- The Division Champion with the best record.
- The Division Champion with the second-best record.
- The Division Champion with the third-best record.
- The Division Champion with the fourth-best record.
- The Wild Card team with the best record.
- The Wild Card team with the second-best record.
- The Wild Card team with the third-best record.
The language to be added, as proposed by the Chargers, is:
“Exception: Wild Card teams may be seeded higher than Division Champions if any of the Wild Card teams have four or more wins [more] than a Division Champion with a won-lost-tied percentage lower than .500. Tie games shall be included in the calculation as a half win and a half loss.”
This change to the bylaws would have impacted the seeding of NFC teams because of Tampa Bay's season record.
The Buccaneers were assigned a four-seed because they were the Division Champions of the NFC South. However, their won-lost-tied percentage was only .471. Their percentage was lower than that of all three Wild Card teams: the Cowboys (.706), the Giants (.559), and the Seahawks (.529).
Under the same circumstances but with the proposed change, the Buccaneers would drop to the seven-seed with the Cowboys, Giants, and Seahawks seeded fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively.
THE IMPACT OF THE PROPOSAL
With that change in seeding, instead of traveling to Tampa Bay in the first round of the Playoffs, the Cowboys would have hosted the Giants in Arlington.
The Vikings would have hosted the Seahawks, and the Tom Brady-led Bucs would have traveled to San Francisco to face the 49ers.
In the second round, although the Eagles' opponent would have been different — they would have faced either the Vikings or the Seahawks — the Cowboys' fate would have remained the same — an away game against the 49ers, assuming San Francisco defeated the Bucs in the first round.
With that being the case, it's hard to say that things would have ended differently.
Rest and recovery were concerns for the Cowboys at the end of this past season. Perhaps a bit less travel would have yielded different results.
We will never know for certain.
With it being that the Eagles show no signs of slowing down and the Bucs show no signs of making vast improvements, an NFL bylaw proposal like this one could impact the NFC next postseason.
But ideally, the Cowboys will win their division and only have to worry about how the new seeding would impact their opponent.
The Chargers cited “competitive equity” as well as late-season “excitement and competition” as reasons for the proposal.