The San Francisco 49ers have won ten of a dozen games this year and have outscored their opponents by the widest margin in the National Football Conference, 166 points. No team in the entire league has a better record than San Francisco and yet, if the season ended today, the 49ers would be a Wild Card and open the postseason on the road.
No bye, no home game, no good.
How can this be?
Well, here is the deal. Each NFL conference has 16 teams broken into four divisions. The four division winners host a game in their first postseason contest, the teams with the best two records in each conference get a bye the first week and then host the two Wild Card Weekend winners in the Divisional Playoff round. The two division winners with the third and fourth best records host games during the Wild Card weekend.
Which means this, San Francisco, based on current standings, would play in Dallas where the Cowboys lead the NFC East Division even though they have a losing record, six wins and seven losses. On Monday night, that edge in their division will either be erased with a Philadelphia win over the New York Giants or the Cowboys lead will swell to a full game over the second place Eagles.
Now, you know what the NFL brass may do this April when they meet at their owners meeting?
Something stupid in response to this seemingly unfair postseason alignment. Something like they did last year, after the New Orleans Saints were juked out of a Super Bowl trip because an official decided that a daytime mugging didn’t equate to pass interference. To try and compensate for this one-time glaring error, the league made pass interference reviewable.
That idea has worked as well as using a kids playpen to hold your pet snakes.
It didn’t take long for the officials to decide to skip utilizing the rule and the coaches to stop challenging pass interference calls whether missed or called wrongly. No matter how seemingly obvious the blown or missed call was, the replay officials went with the call on the field about as often as a President of the United States gets elected with a majority of the popular vote. For the record, that number is 43 out of 45, which is about the same odds as reviewed pass interference calls were reversed on replay.
The fact that the 49ers are in position this year to get screwed by the rules on determining playoff teams and home field advantages, does not mean the league has to add a rule to try and avoid this problem in the future. The problem may happen this year, it is going to happen to either the Seattle Seahawks or 49ers this season because one of them is going to have a better record than the host Wild Card team they meet next month.
Unless, one or both of them collapse down the stretch of the season.
This week, both the Seahawks and 49ers face tough challenges on the road, and both are point spread underdogs against the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints respectively. The difference in these two games is that the 49ers are coming off a hardfought road loss at Baltimore and the Seahawks off a hard fought win at home over the Vikings.
One other difference is that the 49ers are poised for a big effort in New Orleans and the Seahawks are walking into a trap in Los Angeles.
The Rams have had all sorts of trouble defending their NFC Title, and have lost to both the NFC West leaders in their first meeting of the season. In the fifth week of the regular season, the Seahawks hosted the Rams in a Thursday night game and Los Angeles missed a would-be winning field goal to land with a one point loss in Seattle, 30-29. The following week, the Rams lost to the 49ers in Los Angeles, 20-7.
Since those two defeats to their primary division competition, the Rams have been looking up at the widening leads of Seattle and San Francisco. Two weeks ago, in a game the Rams hoped would reestablish themselves as relevant in their division race, they were run out of their home building by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, 45-6.
Case closed, it is not the Rams year.
The moment the Rams surrendered this was not the year for them to defend their title they became lethal. Moving from the hunted to the hunter. That fact was emphasized on the scoreboard last week in a 34-7 trouncing of the Cardinals in Arizona. This week, the Rams opened as a home underdog in their second meeting of the season against Seattle, and the public figured the Seahawks would prevail and bet on them in huge numbers, 65% of all wagers on this game took Seattle as a road favorite.
Know what the books are doing?
Inviting more public money on the Seahawks. Despite the heavy action on their side the books have slid the point spread 3½ points towards the Rams. Seattle opened as a 2½ point favorite and are now a 1 point underdog.
What does that mean?
It means the books want you betting on the Seahawks, and what is the best way to beat the books? Not giving them what they want.
There probably will be an injustice on who hosts the Wild Card game in the NFC, but after this Sunday’s action, that Wild Card team is much more likely to be the Seattle Seahawks.
Qoxhi Picks: Los Angeles Rams (-1) over Seattle Seahawks