Mailbag: Changing The Playoff Format?; Who Is Most Important To The Defense?

SEDRICK STEWART
CHARLESTON, SC
Would it not be fairer to have the top teams make the playoffs instead of division winners? No 8-8 team deserves to make it over a 10-6 team.

Bryan:How many times have the Cowboys been in a position where 8-8 or 9-7 would get them into the playoffs? Do you remember when a 11-5 New Orleans Saints club went to Seattle and got beat by a 7-9 Seahawks team? It's the NFL…it's OK.

David:This is bound to come up in a season where a 10-6 or 11-5 team looks likely to miss the playoffs because of the weak NFC South. It's unfortunate, but it happens from time to time. It has actually worked in the Cowboys' favor on plenty of occasions – last year's 8-8 team would not have been playing for a playoff spot in Week 17 if division winners didn't earn a spot. Simply put, I think you have to make room for a division winner in the playoffs. My compromise would be that there's no way a 7-9 or 8-8 team should host a playoff game – which is going to happen this year. That's not fair.

STEVEN DENNEY
BOISE, ID
We know what this defense is by now. With three games left, who is the one defensive player the Cowboys could not afford to lose? I say it's Hitchens, knowing what we have for backup replacements at all positions.

Bryan: Rolando McClain would be an obvious answer because of what he brings each week to the middle of this defense. I would also hate to lose Tyrone Crawford or Orlando Scandrick for any extended period of time because of what they do in the scheme.

David: My answer is always going to be Rolando McClain. He's a playmaker and he sets the tone for the entire unit, which I don't think is something you can say about many other guys on this defense. With almost everyone else on the defense, I think the Cowboys can power through by shuffling their available guys and making it work. It's a different unit when McClain isn't playing – and playing at a healthy level – in my opinion.

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