Now first and foremost let me just say I have complete faith we are going to have a great season. I've said it once and i'll say it again, I really do think 9-7 is our floor this season. I am not saying this as a die hard fan, I am truely looking at this from a non bias analytical standpoint. Infact this time last season I said no doubt in my mind the Lions would make the playoffs and they did, simply put they just had too much talent and the writing was on the wall they would make the playoffs and they did. I am using the same exact analysis for the Panthers as I did for the Lions. Its nothing fancy or scientific, simply put, the Carolina Panthers have way too much talent and there is no doubt we will have a breakout season, in fact I am calling it now, we will have a 11-5 season. But the question remains.. Is it good enough?
Now I think I speak for everyone here when I say 11-5 would be amazing this season and myself included I think we would all be very content with that season. However, the sad reality is we happen to play in the super talented NFC and frankly, I am not so sure 11-5 is going to be good enough for for us to make the playoffs. Which is why I think playoff contention in the NFL needs a change. Quite frankly I dont think enough teams make the playoffs in the NFL. I mean on the surface 11-5 sounds like an amazing season, and it is. But when you consider the fact that only 2 teams can make the wild card in each conference, then frankly a 11-5 season in the talent heavy NFC suddenly doesn't mean much.
Ok so let's take the NFC north for instance. One thing we know for sure thats a given is the NFC north will have a team that automaticially takes up one wild card spot already. I know, I know. Any Given Sunday and no guarantees in the NFL but let's get real. In a division that includes the Bears, Lions and Packers. One of those teams will be a wild card playoff team. There is just no getting around that. so there is already one spot taken for the wild card.
Now onto the NFC east. In a division that includes the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys. I think it's safe to assume one of those teams will also be grabbing a wild card spot. Those teams are just too talented and while we all like to poke fun at the Eagles, I am calling it now they go 13-3 and win the NFC east which all but guarantees NYG gets a wild card.
So where does that leave the Carolina Panthers? Well at 11-5. Now the good news is this, I personally do believe we can win the NFC south with a 11-5 record. I see Tampa Bay winning maybe 7 or 8, Falcons winnng 10 and Saints winning 8, 9 at most. However had this been a normal year with the Saints not going through everything they are going through, I am not so sureca 11-5 season, as good as that is, would have been enough to get us in the playoffs.
So here is my solution to this, if PantherTrain was the NFL commissioner, here is what I would do to solve this whole playoff dilema. It's very simple actually. I would completely get rid of the wild card, gone, vanished, disappeared. The first round of the playoffs would consist of the top 2 teams in each division battling each other. So essentially you would still have some form of the wild card, the only difference is under my plan instead of just two teams from each conference making the wild card I would simply have it so the team in each division with the 2nd best record makes the playoffs. Instead of 6 teams per conference making the playoffs, you would have 8 teams, So for example last year the NFC playoff teams would have been; Giants Vs Eagles, Packers Vs Lions, Saints Vs Falcons and 49ers Vs Cardinals. Thats how the 1st round of the playoffs would go under my rule. Its simpler, common sense and would be more exciting. Round 1 of playoffs simply consists of the top 2 teams in each division playing each other to see who advances in the next round. Simple as that.
Now I know what you might be thinking. " Yea if we do that then the NFL becomes the NBA and the bad teams get in the playoffs." Actually it's quite the opposite. Because of the current NFL rules a lot of good teams are unfairly left out of the playoffs. Here are some examples of good teams unfairly left out of the playoffs last season; Titans record 9-7, did not qualify for playoffs. Chargers record 8-8, did not qualify for playoffs. Eagles record 8-8, did not qualify for playoffs, Anyway, you get my point. The bottom line is the current NFL playoff system leaves a lot of well deserving teams out in the cold and it needs to be changed.