Welcome to SB Nation FanPulse, a survey of fans across the NFL powered by SurveyMonkey. As the season kicks off in just a few weeks, each week, we’ll send 32 polls to 100+ plugged in fans from each team. Colts fans, sign up HERE to join FanPulse.
As it has each and every week this NFL season, this week’s FanPulse survey continues to gauge the confidence level of the Indianapolis Colts’ fan base. Given the team’s massive skid to end the season, and the blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints Monday night, you might be surprised by the results.
Also, this week’s survey comes with the national question of whether or not division winners deserve to host a playoff game regardless of their record. This one also came back with very interesting results.
First let’s start with the Colts.
The Colts have lost 6 of their last 7 games since Week 9. Yes, I know we’re all very well aware of this, however, it still needs to be mentioned. Since Week 10, the team’s fan base has responded accordingly, resulting in an average confidence level of 51 percent. Before Week 10, the average was sitting just under 86 percent. That’s not only a massive contrast from the beginning to the end of the year, but the results — naturally — mimic the team’s record, as do the large portion of NFL team’s results.
However, despite the Colts’ embarrassing loss to the Saints Monday night, the fans have turned a bit with an increase in confidence from a week ago (36 percent) to 50 percent this week. But, the Colts lost both games, right?
So, what could cause an increase when the Colts not only lost, but only put up a single score — in garbage time at that — in their most recent matchup?
Well, of course the question of ‘Why are you more confident in the team now?’ isn’t part of the survey, but it would make sense that most fans have simply accepted the team’s fate at this point and are likely mentally moving on from this year’s fall from grace.
After all the question is worded to determine the fan’s confidence in the direction of the franchise, and not something like “How confident are you in the Colts’ chances at winning this year’s Super Bowl?.” Thus, it makes sense that a healthy dose of fans are now reading the question accurately with its intentions in mind.
The Colts have a GM in Chris Ballard that most people trust to get, and keep, the Colts competitive, with Super Bowl aspirations into the next several years. Most of the fans love Frank Reich and what they feel he can do with the roster each and every Sunday, and there are real visions being realized with the level of talent fans are seeing on the field.
My expectation is that these numbers will continue to rise as the end of the season brings hope from free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft, especially if the fans feel Ballard has hit on a top talent in both offseason periods.
Now let’s look at the question of whether or not division winners always deserve to host a playoff game.
As I said in the opening, these results were a little surprising. To be perfectly honest, I expected these two numbers to be flip-flopped. Let’s just look at the current situation in the NFC East.
It feels like this happens every year. One division repeatedly gets called the worst in the league, and it sends a .500 division winner, or worse, to the playoffs and thus, they earn a home playoff game. The Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles are both sitting at 7-7, and it’s more than possible that each of them finish the season at 8-8.
Meanwhile, you’ve got the NFC West with their top two teams sitting at 11-3 (Seahawks and 49ers), and the North’s top two are at 11-3 (Packers), and 10-4 (Vikings). Yet, because of the current format, one of those division’s second place team will have to travel to play an inferior team in either the Cowboys or the Eagles.
Yes, sometimes the team who is sitting in the third or fourth seed will ultimately pull off the ‘upset’ against a team with a much better record, but home field advantage is a very real entity in some buildings.
Some may even argue that if the team with 11 or 12 wins is actually better than they’ll just have to prove it and win on the road.
I can accept that. However, the object is to give the better teams the advantage because of what they’ve done during the regular season. Yes, that also includes winning their division, but we all know some divisions are significantly better year in and year out than most others.
This is a fun argument, and there are a ton of additional aspects of this question to argue just the same, and it appears the results have yielded that conclusion as well.
While 56 percent argued that division winners should get the benefit of the doubt, and get that home playoff game, 44 percent were against that notion, and prefer to see the best teams in each conference be rewarded by hosting a playoff game.
Division winners get automatic bids to the post season, but seeding depends upon record? I actually would like something like that, but at the same time I’d be seriously annoyed if the Colts won the AFC South with a 10-6 record, and were the 5 or 6 seed because of like, and better records throughout the conference. That’s a terrible example, but you get it.
I get both sides of the argument, but I do indeed love the conversation.