The Green Bay Packers Are Not the NFL Champions

You read that subject line and think, “No, you’re wrong. The Packers are the undisputed NFL champions.” It’s simply a fact, right?

We don’t even question that the team that wins the Super Bowl is the champion. There’s no other team that says, “Oh, we’re better than them. We’re co-champion. If we played the Packers in a week, we’d beat them.”

It’s simply a fact. There’s a playoff system that builds up to a single game, and there is no doubt that the winner of the game is the NFL champion.

In college football, there is considerably more speculation than conviction when it comes to the national champion. This year Auburn won the BSC championship game and was crowned the winner. They were undefeated, and they beat undefeated Oregon. But TCU also went undefeated and won their bowl game, so should they be co-champion? There’s no certainty, and when people spend a considerable amount of time, energy, and money on sport entertainment, we want a definitive winner.

Look back at the NFL. This year the New England Patriots went 14-3, with their third loss coming in the playoffs. The Green Bay Packers finished the season (counting the postseason) 13-6. Any way you look at those numbers, they’re worse than the Patriots. But no one–not a single person–will say tomorrow that the Patriots are the true NFL champions. It literally will not cross anyone’s mind.

There are plenty of stipulations and logistics to make a college football playoff system work. But I don’t think there’s any doubt that it will result in an uncontested champion, which is what people want. It most certainly won’t undermine the value of regular season games. At the very least, let’s try it for a few years. If it doesn’t work, we can always go back to the old system.

Congrats to the Packers, and here’s to the future of sports involving young men pinning each other to the ground while wearing tights.

15 thoughts on “The Green Bay Packers Are Not the NFL Champions”

  1. This is why college football cannot seem to seize me as a fan. I’m like, “Why bother?” People love stakes. It’s why the Super Bowl is so successful. It’s why every executive and fan hopes for Game 7 in NFL / NHL / MLB playoffs.

    College football should just go American Idol and let the fans vote instead of some stupid computer. I bet that would be awesome, and that the fans would probably get it right just as often as the computer does. Imagine, the Illini football fans clicking themselves to death to get a 2 win team into a bowl game.

    • Yes, Fred! People love stakes. That’s exactly what it is. In the NFL playoffs, every game is a game 7.

      I’m not sure about the American Idol route, but it could be amusing. That would have been an interesting turn in The Samaritan–if viewers could have voted on the recipients.

  2. Yeah, it’s America. Most of the rest of the world’s sports league titles are won based on the actual season, not a playoffs system. Premiere League, for example. And there’s no divisions. But, America likes divisions and rivalry and playoffs and a big finale to things.

    • Wow, Lorena, did you just rediscover the blog? I’ve counted 6 comments of yours on various posts.

      Although I love–LOVE–the EPL system, the finales are usually really anticlimactic. Climax is generally a good thing. I don’t think a tournament undermines the regular season. You have to work really hard throughout the season to be in contention for the finale.

      The EPL could take the top four teams at the end of the season and pit them against one another. The 4th-placed team plays the 3rd at the 3rd’s home field. The winner of that game plays the 2nd-place team at the 2nd’s home field. And for the finale, the 2nd-place team plays the 1st-place team on the 1st’s home field (playing on a neutral field would undermine the 1st-place team’s efforts during the regular season.

      That’s only 3 extra games, but they’d be amazing games watched by millions of people. I’d say that’s worth it.

      • Jamey,

        In your soccer scenario described above, why do you think its fair for the fourth place team to get a chance to play the first place team? The first place team is already in first place, why should they have to “prove it” by beating a team below them again.

        Similarly in the NFL. The Patriots finished the season with only 2 losses. Every other team had more than 2 losses. Doesn’t that mean that the Patriots were better than every other team? Why does there need to be any more proof than that. It seems to me that the team with the most wins and the fewest losses should be the winner. Why should a team like Seattle with only 7 wins and 9 losses even be allowed to play for a championship when they are so far behind the Patriots (half the wins!!!).

        Now, I understand (and even embrace) the idea that you cannot compare apples to oranges and that teams in different divisions (like the Patriots and Seahawks) cannot be adequately compared on record alone since they have such different schedules. Maybe if the Patriots had played in the NFC West they would have also been 7-9 (…I’m sure that New England fans are terrified of the idea of having to play the Rams…twice!). So I can see why a playoff is needed to determine who is the best out of the winners of the divisions.

        BUT! Green Bay was not the winner of their division. How can a rational person say that Green Bay is the best team in the NFL when they are not even the best team in the NFC North? What possible definition of fair play allows a team to lose its division and still win a “championship”? Now, maybe if Green Bay had swept the first place Bears they would have some sort of argument, but they didn’t, they lost to the Bears. So head-to-head, they split and they’re even. Against everyone else the Bears were better, so why should the Packers be allowed to play for a championship?

        This is why I despise the NCAA basketball tournament. Sure its fun to watch, but why would the 68th best team at anything be allowed to play for a championship??? (and of course we all know that the last seed in the tourney is MUCH lower than 68th best in the country given all the much better teams that get left out of the tournament). Its completely ludicrous. Winning a tournament does not, in any way, prove that you are the best team. Winning the regular season, on the other hand, really means something.

        I hate to say it, but when it comes to determining the best team, the Premier League’s got it right. Tournaments and playoffs should only be used to pick an ultimate winner out of a group of divisional winners. The best thing of all is to have no divisions and a balanced schedule and thus, no need for a tournament(which is what it sounds like the Premier League has).

        Now, given all that, I’m sure you see the obvious and fair conclusion for NCAA Football. Just take the winners of all the conferences and seed them in a tournament and let them play. A simple and elegant solution to all your woes.

        (…but what about Notre Dame, you say? SCREW ‘EM!)

        • Wait one second. Before I reply to this, go back to the logic and the very beginning, because it doesn’t make sense despite the decent argument that follows it. You say this:

          “In your soccer scenario described above, why do you think its fair for the fourth place team to get a chance to play the first place team? The first place team is already in first place, why should they have to “prove it” by beating a team below them again.”

          But this isn’t inherently true. It’s quite possible that the fourth place team has beaten the first-place team several times throughout the season. Does that mean that if Man U ends the season with 72 points and Tottenham has 65 points but beat Man U twice during the regular season, Tottenham is the better team and thus should be champion? Obviously not, but that’s a big hole in your logic. With that logic, if the fourth-place team beat the first-place team in a playoff, they totally deserve to be the champion.

          I think the EPL does a fantastic job of picking the correct champion. However, like I say above, a climactic ending is better than a boring one. Sports are entertainment, Bryce. You get the maximum possible entertainment when things build to a climax.

          • I disagree about climax. I’m perfectly happy watching ManU win based on Chelsea’s loss (ahem…not this year though, it’s all ManCity and such events).

            And if you need a climatic ‘fix’, just watch the Champion’s League. The top three teams of the EPL automatically qualify and the fourth team more or less does.

            And if you were to create a ‘playoff’ situation, why would you cut it at four teams? Especially this year when it’s such a close race? How is it fair to cut out the 5th team who could have the same points as the fourth, but a lower goal differential?

            I see no need for climax in the EPL. Esp. considering that there’s also an FA Cup, Carling Cup, and Champion’s League going on at the same time.

            Also, one of the things I like the most about the EPL is that there’s a punishment for poor performance, so it makes the bottom of the league hold some interest as well. Esp. when Liverpool was creeping down to the bottom three!!!

            • *All ManCity meant that Chelsea’s performance has slipped. NOT that ManCity will beat ManU for the title. I would NEVER cheer for that.

              And I’m not sure where the logic is on your Tottenham/ManU example because I got lost in it, BUT I feel (and I think you and Bryce do too) that whoever has the most points is the clear winner. Even if Tottenham beat ManU in both their meet-ups, which they didn’t, (yes, I know it’s hypothetical) they still did not outperform ManU against the rest of the league. It’s based on overall performance for the full season, as it should be. Because in both the meet-ups, ManU could’ve been out their top 5 players due to injury, which isn’t a true representation of their squad at full capacity. It’s all situational, so one must take into account the full season’s performance.

              Anyway, I think we all agree on this matter and I’m beating a dead horse.

          • Well I’ll admit that I’m out of my league when talking about soccer (pun intended), but it is your logic that does not make sense. I think Lorena has essentially made this point, but lets take the example to my home turf and look at ACC basketball. Currently Duke has one loss, to FSU. These two teams play only once this year. It is entirely possible (though not probable) that Duke could win the rest of their games and FSU could lose the rest of their games. This would leave Duke at 15-1 and FSU at 6-10. No rational person would say that a 6-10 teams is better than a 15-1 team if they played the same competition (the ACC is schedule is not entirely balanced, but its pretty close). So I don’t think your argument about my logic really holds water.

            What’s more interesting to me is that you value the entertainment value of sports more than the competition. This is where we really disagree. I watch movies and TV shows for entertainment, I watch sports for competition and fair play.

            • …and I’m sorry, I would have responded sooner, but I was out back beating a dead horse.

              Of course, it wasn’t dead when I started the beating, but even after it died I did keep beating for a little while, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

            • Technically it was your logic, Bryce (“The first place team is already in first place, why should they have to “prove it” by beating a team below them again.”), but we’re getting into semantics. The point is that a bad way to determine the best team is to measure that team against each other individual team.

              I think you touch upon the key difference between us in your last point. To me, sports are undeniably entertainment. Although I like healthy competition and fair play, at their heart, sports are entertainment to me. Thus I want the highest possible entertainment factor.

              Here’s one point that may get through to you: Do you like the format that Survivor uses to determine the top Survivor? It’s essentially one long single elimination tournament, and at the end, there’s very little doubt that the best Survivors remain (whether the jury picks the top Survivor is up for debate). But what if Survivor was like the EPL? No one would ever be eliminated–people would just rack up wins and losses (and maybe they would vote every week for one “loser,” but the loser would stay on the island). The last few episodes might be really boring because Ozzie might be 15 points ahead. Sure, Ozzie might be the best Survivor in terms of challenges, but that would make the final few episodes really boring. Like sports, Survivor is entertainment. Sure, we hope for a good competition with compelling characters and fair play (and maybe some not-so-fair play), but in the end, it’s something for us to watch on TV once a week.


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