It doesn’t seem fair that the San Francisco 49ers (12-4) have to travel to Lambeau Field for a frigid Wild Card playoff game against the Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) when the defending NFC champions have a much better record.
But based on the fact that Green Bay won its division and San Francisco did not, the Packers get home field based on the current NFL playoff format.
The system may change soon, however.
One tweak that is being looked at by the league is giving home field in the Wild Card round to teams with the best records, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com.
“Every scenario has been discussed, ranging from reseeding to one extra game, expanding from 12 to 14 teams,” [league spokesman Brian] McCarthy told Wesseling. “Think of a scenario, it’s been discussed and remains in play.”
This season’s playoffs feature two Wild Card games in which the home team has a worse record. In addition to the aforementioned 49ers-Packets matchup, the New Orleans Saints (11-5) will travel on the road to play the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles (10-6). Road teams with a better record than their opponent in the Wild Card round are 3-4 over the last three years.
Expanding the postseason format would allow for teams that missed the playoffs despite having a better record than one or more division winners to earn a berth in the tournament. The Arizona Cardinals (10-6) failed to make the postseason this year despite having the same or a better record than two division winners (Packers, Eagles) in the NFC.