To say that the 2010 NFL football season has had its fair share of surprises with regard to team performances would be an understatement. To say that there are teams that seem more dominant than others could be seen as hyperbole. To say that there are 31 teams in the NFL with two losses or more would not only be accurate, it would be unsettling. When sports analysts over the years talked about parity in the NFL, that boring vision of .500 football that free agency was supposedly leading the League into, they still had seasons with undefeated teams up until the eighth, ninth, tenth or so games. Not this year. According to the just a cursory glance at the standings, the NFL is closer to true parity than it has ever been.
This year, no team made it to 5-0. Only one team has made it to 6-1 (the New England Patriots). Only one team has a winless season thus far (the Buffalo Bills). Thirty teams have won one to five games, with 20 of those teams posting four or five wins. Not one team can be honestly and mathematically eliminated from the playoff scenario. Not just yet.
For instance, taking the Buffalo Bills as an example, they could go on a win streak that lasts until season’s end. It would see them with a 9-7 overall record, a record with which teams are often seen making the playoffs as Division winners or Wild Cards.
On the opposite side of that coin, the team with the best record in the NFL, the New England Patriots, could go on a losing streak that could place them at 6-10 from this week to season’s end, opening up not only an unencumbered shot for someone else to win the division but also make the playoffs via Wild Card berth.
Besides, even a team scoring a .500 record has been known to make it to the playoffs. The 2008 San Diego Chargers did.
Many say they like the idea of parity in the NFL. Parity gives the NFL balance, a chance for the teams that normally might not have a shot at winning a chance at a shot at winning. Of course, parity has its detractors as well. It takes away the excitement of upset, some say, homogenizing the League, watering down the week-to-week play. Some say it is the disparity of the game, the outside chance that the underdog rising up to defeat the favored that gives football its excitement. An NFL that has reached parity will not do that because the underdogs will be only marginally worse teams than their favored competitors.
Regardless of which side of the argument one adheres, there is no escaping that 32 teams remain in contention for playoff berths at the end of the eighth week of NFL football in the 2010 season. That is parity. And that has to be exciting for many of the teams (and their fans), especially teams like the 0-7 Buffalo Bills.
And the 1-6 Dallas Cowboys…
And the 1-6 Carolina Panthers…
And the 2-6 Denver Broncos…
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