The St. Louis Rams' playoff run has, to date, been nothing but a feel-good story—their telegenic number-one pick has put together one of the better rookie seasons from a quarterback in recent memory, their play has exceeded all expectations as a unit, and they've competed, so far, through every month of the regular season. Things only start to get worrying when you look at next year—specifically, at the 2011 NFL Draft, where projections of positioning depend almost entirely on whether the Rams make the playoffs or not.â†µ
Prior to the 2010 NFL Draft the owners unanimously approved changes that make no sense whatsoever, ensuring that playoff teams always pick after non-playoff teams and teams that go deep into the playoffs pick later still. This tells me that the owners don't understand one of two things: That the playoffs are a terrible way of figuring out which team is the best or worst, and that winning in the playoffs means even less.
For whatever reason—their ongoing parity fetish or their ongoing playoff fetish—the NFL has managed to provide a serious disincentive for the Rams to make the playoffs with a team that is, honestly, not that great, and that could use the draft as much as any team in football. Making the playoffs could send the Rams back five to ten spots in 2011—making them much less likely to make the playoffs in the future, when the division's actually good. It takes an artificial construct that's already proving problematic—the divisions—and pastes them over something else.â†µ
The Rams can't dump these last two games for draft positioning—there's far too much at stake for the fanbase. But it's ridiculous that it's even worth discussing. Regular season wins are the best barometer for team success, and as a result the best metric for a redistributive draft.â†µ