A topsy-turvy week in the NFL left potential powerhouses New England, Dallas, and Washington shaking their heads, with thought-to-be pushovers Arizona, Seattle, and St. Louis celebrating major victories.
20 of the 32 NFL teams now have a 1-1 record, leaving only six teams undefeated, and six teams winless. This may not seem like a big deal. You may be thinking to yourself that there are only a couple teams that make an undefeated run into the mid-season anyways. But I do think this is a big deal.
Consider that there are always 16 teams that are 1-0 after the first week of the season. I know this is obvious, but I'm just trying to cover all my bases here. Then consider the highly unlikely situation that all of these teams played each other in Week 2. We would be left with eight 2-0 teams. Easy math, right?
But that doesn't happen. More likely, you will have a handful of undefeated match-ups (this year, there were four games in which both teams entered at 1-0) and the rest of them will play teams that lost in Week 1 (there were eight games this week that pitted a 1-0 team against an 0-1). You would be inclined to think that 1-0 teams would beat 0-1 teams most of the time. You would think they would at least go 4-4, right?
The only 1-0 teams that beat 0-1 opponents this week were San Diego and Houston. Incidentally, they are the only two remaining undefeated teams in the AFC.
Arizona, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Philadelphia are the remaining NFC unbeatens, but they all beat 1-0 teams to get there. There is no real statistical significance here but it is still quite intriguing.
Here's my point folks. Since the NFL moved to a 32-team format, there has never been less than seven 2-0 teams after the second week of action. Never. Most of the time there are at least eight. From 2006 to 2009, there was an average of 10 2-0 teams per year (11 in 2006, 10 in both 2007 and 2008, nine in 2009). This all probably means nothing to you, but to me it screams one thing: parity.
I have always been a proponent of more parity in the NFL. I love it when 14-point underdogs pull off the upset. I love it when sure-fire routs turn into overtime thrillers. I love it when there are eight teams fighting for playoffs spots the last week of the season. And I can't be alone.
For years, it has been the Patriots, the Colts, the Steelers, etc. etc. Teams go 14-2 or 13-3 and they absolutely embarrass the teams that go 4-12. That is the league we have become accustomed to. That is the reason I wrote a horrible "locks column" last week and looked like an idiot when three of my guaranteed wins lost.
Think about college football, where upsets (real upsets) happen very, very rarely. The only question is whether or not Florida State beats its Division-III opponent by 57 points or not. It's a stupid question, but its been the same with New England for years. Will the Patriots win by three touchdowns? Or four?
That's not the question anymore.
You may think that I am overreacting to the admittedly flukey start to this season. If I am, then so be it. But there has never been a flukier first two weeks of an NFL season, and maybe that means its not a fluke at all.
There will always be good teams and bad teams. You can't stop that. But we shouldn't be watching a professional league where one team stands no conceivable chance of beating another. We need more competition. We need this parity.
Keep this in mind as the season progresses. Look for 7-2 teams to get taken down by 3-6 teams. Look for the remaining undefeated teams to be snuffed out quickly. Look for a highly contested wild card race.
I know it sounds scary. I know it seems frightening to not know who will win each week. But trust me, it will be better this way. Especially if you are a Browns fan. Your day is coming Mr. Browns fans. I mean, probably.