Friday, December 3, 2010

NFL Parity and Power Rankings

It's the return (the turn, turn). The return (turn, turn). It's the return. It's. The. Return. You're welcome OutKast fans. Thankfully, the aspect that the NFL strives to promote so greatly has returned to the league for the 2010 season: Parity.

After watching the Patriots and Colts dominate the AFC for the last ten years, and lasting through the undefeated stints of the Saints (13-0) and Colts (14-0) in 2009, the 2010 NFL season is void of any true favorite (Yes, the Patriots, Colts, and Saints are still around, but not in the same dominating ways of the past). This is when the NFL thrives. It's a league that depends on the names on the front of the jersey. And it's a league that's designed to give every team a chance at the Super Bowl. We remember the 1999 Rams as fondly as the 49ers/Cowboys/Patriots dynasties.

Despite promoting parity, there has been a certain disparity in the league the last ten years. It seems nobody was ready to handle the salary cap upon its inception in the mid 90's. Teams didn't understand how to build around the cap, which ensured that great teams didn't last more than a handful of years. Then the Patriots and Colts figured things out, got star QB's, and broke the NFL mold by contending for championships every year. Since then, teams have slowly caught up (although, still not all the way), and their franchise QB's have grown older. Suddenly new quarterbacks are mentioned in the same breath (Brees, Rivers, Rodgers, Thigpen - still nobody mentions Ben Roth Biglisberger).

This will inevitably lead to an exciting finish to the season with all the close division races, and a playoffs that's wide open to all 12 teams (well, 11, minus the NFC West winner). So when all you young'in's are ordering rounds of shots this weekend, make sure you toast to parity, the most underrated aspect in all of sports, and the difference between a good NFL season and a great NFL season (there are no bad NFL seasons, although 2009 was as close as it gets).

Previous NFL Power Rankings:

Week 13 NFL Power Rankings:

1. Atlanta Falcons
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. New Orleans Saints
4. New York Jets
5. New England Patriots
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Green Bay Packers
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. San Diego Chargers
10. Chicago Bears
11. New York Giants
12. Kansas City Chiefs
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
14. Indianapolis Colts
15. Miami Dolphins
16. Jacksonville Jaguars
17. Cleveland Browns
18. Oakland Raiders
19. Washington Redskins
20. St. Louis Rams
21. Houston Texans
22. Buffalo Bills
23. Tennessee Titans
24. Minnesota Vikings
25. Seattle Seabags
26. Detroit Lions
27. Dallas Cowboys
28. San Francisco 49ers
29. Denver Broncos
30. Arizona Cardinals
31. Cincinnati Bengals
32. Carolina Panthas

Power Ranking Statistical Analysis:

Biggest Risers (compared to my Week 7 Rankings):
1. San Diego Chargers +14
2. Cleveland Browns +12
2. Oakland Raiders +12
4. Jacksonville Jaguars +11
5. Buffalo Bills +10
5. Chicago Bears +10

Biggest Fallers:
1. Tennessee Titans -14
2. Cincinnati Bengals -12
3. Minnesota Vikings -10
4. Seattle Seahawks -8
5. Indianapolis Colts -7

Most Overrated Teams (compared against ESPN's Power Rankings):
1. Baltimore Ravens -4
2. Tennessee Titans -4
3. Houston Texans -4

Most Underrated Teams:
1. Cleveland Browns +7
2. Detroit Lions +5
2. Buffalo Bills +5


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