Saints-Patriots Superbowl Paradise

Gary WolffContributor IINovember 12, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 28:  JaMarcus Russell poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen first overall by the Oakland Raiders at the 2007 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall April 28, 2007 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Before the season I stuck my neck out, predicting the Saints would make it to the SuperBowl this season.  There is a long way to go, but barring a Brees ACL tear, I'm confident in my early prognostication.

I like living dangerously though, so let me now say it will be the Patriots in the big game representing the AFC.

Saints—Patriots Superbowl.  That would be a super scenario for me personally, as I grew up in Sharon, MA, the town next to Foxboro (or Foxborough if you prefer) and have been a Patriots fan since I've been five years old.  

Since 2001, I have lived in Mandeville, LA, just north of New Orleans, and have adopted the Saints as my second favorite team.

Although I would be devastated to see the Patriots lose another Superbowl, I could offset some of that pain by celebrating a historic win for the Saints.

But the point of this article is not to bore you with my NFL loyalties.  The point is that my predictions are a lot easier this season than in years past.

In absolute terms, I would have a 6.25 percent chance of being correct picking an NFC or an AFC representative for the Superbowl.  That is, to predict either the AFC or NFC team that will make it to the superbowl, prior to the season, you have a 1/16 chance.  

To pick both teams you have less than a 1 percent chance of doing that prior to the season.

However, as informed fans of the game, we can improve our odds of picking the best teams.  It is clear, and clearer this year than in many others, that many teams can be eliminated from the pool, thus improving your chances.

In the AFC, I have a 1/5 chance, or a 20 percent chance of picking the correct team.  It was clear (sorry Jets and Dolphin fans, but you should have known better than to get your hopes up this season), that New England was the only team with a chance from the AFC east.  Pittsburgh and Baltimore were clear choices from the north, and we have to throw in Cincinnati this year.  They finally are playing up to their potential.  Of course we have Indianapolis.

So there you have it.  Five teams that have a shot.  What?  San Diego?  Denver?  Not happening this year.

The NFC is just as easy.  Saints, Eagles, Vikings, Cowboys, Giants.  To be honest, I have to say the Cardinals should be on the radar, but since they made it last year I felt they were statistically eliminated from my analysis.  

In the NFC, 1/5 chance, or 20 percent chance of picking the correct team.

Assuming you buy any of this, the next logical question to ask your self is, "Why are the majority of the teams clearly non-competitive before the season even starts?"

Well, we finally reach the point of this article and explain the associated picture.  NFL parity is no longer, and it won't be for the foreseeable future, unless a new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated that includes a rookie salary cap.

If the CBA doesn't materialize, parity is done.  If it does, but doesn't have a rookie salary cap, parity is done.  Given the tremendous amount of risk tied to picking in the top 10 of the draft the model that created parity initially now ensures it can not exist.

When rookie salaries were reasonable, all the uncertainty of evaluating talent, and the uncertainty of the longevity of ones career due to injury risk, was something a team could rebound from.  That is, if a top 10 pick didn't work out, a team could survive such a mistake.  

Now, such a mistake is compounded and makes the probability of improving lower and lower each season.  Oakland is a perfect example.  You draft a guy number one, pay him $30 million guaranteed (even though he has never worked a day in his life), and he's a bust.  Your team stinks, and gets another high pick.  You have to pick, you pick wrong again, and you are dead.  You can't manage the cap, and you are a sinking ship.

Parity was great.  It gave all fans hope each season, and it put a premium on coaching and player execution (forcing players to strive for excellence).

But parity is dead in the NFL unless the politics that governs every aspect of our lives these days gets purged from the NFL and common sense prevails.

As a lifelong NFL fan I care greatly, but as a Patriots fan, I'm in good shape even if the ship starts to sink.