By Eliot Schickler

eschickler@bcnnew.com

Everyone who follows professional sports, especially football, are privy to the fact that the Seattle Seahawks made it to the NFL playoffs with a 7-9 record. Many people believe Seattle, which qualified for the playoffs -- and will be hosting a playoff game to boot when the defending Super Bowl champions, the New Orleans Saints, visit Qwest field tomorrow -- don't belong in the playoffs with a 7-9 record.

Although the Seahawks made it to the playoffs by winning the NFC West division, those people who feel they don't belong in the playoffs are right.

Based on how good Seattle performed in comparison to its record, it should be barred from the playoffs because two 10-6 teams, the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, aren't in the playoffs.

The Giants and Buccaneers are vastly superior to the Seahawks as both teams defeated them convincingly with the Giants winning 41-7 at Qwest field on Nov. 7; the Buccaneers won 38-15 in Tampa on Dec. 26. Seattle is in the playoffs only because of geography and the NFL rule that each division winner gets in.

Rules need to be adjusted based on the current circumstances and this one fits the bill. With 7-9 being the best record in the NFC West (the St. Louis Rams were also 7-9 and the Seahawks beat them out because they had a better divisional record), it's obvious that this was a weak division this year.

Playoffs should be based on merit and a 7-9 record should be far short of what a playoff team needs to garner in order to make it. If no team in the division is worthy of a berth, then give it to a more deserving team, like the Giants or Buccaneers.

In the name of full disclosure, I admit I'm a Giants fan but that's not what it's about. Let's say the situation is reverse and the Giants win the NFC East with a 7-9 record, I would say the exact same thing.

Not all division winners in football make the playoffs. The Ivy League champion doesn't make the NCAA playoffs even if it has an undefeated year and once the regular season is over for Ivy League teams, it is over no matter what.

Weston won the SWC Patriot Division with a 6-4 record but didn't make the playoffs. Cheney Tech had a 7-3 record and won the Constitution State Conference and also didn't make the playoffs.

Teams that finished below .500 shouldn't be in the playoffs and this applies to high school sports as well. Normally, a team that wins its division in pro sports should be in the playoffs but if neither team in the division deserves it, than it should cede way for a team that does. The Seattle Seahawks fit this bill and irregardless of what the NFL bylaws say, the rules need to be adjusted to fit what's right and the right thing is for the Seahawks to be disqualified this year because of their record in favor of the Giants or Buccaneers.