The 2010 NFL Season: A Story of League-Wide Parity
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Throw out your predictions, tear up your power rankings and say goodbye to your sanity and any common sense you thought you had regarding the National Football League.
The 2010 NFL season has been anything but predictable through eight weeks, which has led to a league-wide parity amongst the thirty-two teams.
Every regular season in recent memory has always established two or three dominant teams, either through a high-powered and unstoppable offense, an opportunistic and stifling defense or even an electric and explosive return game.
But this year we are constantly seeing new weaknesses from the proclaimed elite teams in the league. New teams are moving up and others are plummeting in the power rankings. Lets take a quick look at how we have gotten to this point. Here are just a few examples from each week of the NFL season thus far:
Week 1: Brandon Marshall's debut for the Phins is anything but overwhelming as Miami barely gets out of Buffalo with a victory. Meanwhile, Pete Carroll's Seattle debut was much more decisive. The Seahawks dominate the 49ers, who were a consensus pick to break out and run away with the division. The same can be said for the rebuilding Chiefs, who upset the Chargers in their season opener.
Week 2: Bert Farvuh and the Chillesota Vikings fall to the Miami Dolphins to start out their season 0-2. The Chicago Bears show signs of life in the NFC by upsetting the Dallas Cowboys.
Week 3: The Bills hang with the Patriots much like they did last year. Sadly, the result is the same: A Patriot victory. Peyton Hillis and the Browns put up a valiant effort against the Ravens supposed "elite" defense. Rookie Sam Bradford is proving why he deserved the No. 1 overall pick by leading the Rams to a decisive victory over the Redskins.
Week 4: The Giants defense hasn't quite meshed yet, but gets it together to hand the Chicago Bears their first loss of the season. The Lions nearly pull off an upset over the popular pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl—the Green Bay Packers.
Week 5: The self-proclaimed "Best Team in the NFC" (Tampa Bay) serves the Bengals with a warrant for their arrest. The New York Giants shut down a high powered Texans offense which include the likes of Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and breakout RB Arian Foster. The Colts down Kansas City to mark the first time that a team has not started the season 4-0 since 1970.
Week 6: The backup heir apparent then starter then bench warmer then back to top of the depth chart and finally back to spooning a clipboard QB Kevin Kolb shines as Philly dominates current NFC favorite, Atlanta. And on a completely unrelated note, the Jaguars get embarrassed in one of the most boring MNF games I have ever seen.
Week 7: The Steelers prove that they are human after all, after beating the Phins on a highly controversial fumble. The Oakland Raiders set franchise scoring records as they manhandle and dismantle the Broncos. The Bills jump to a huge lead over the Ravens in Baltimore, but in a very Bills-esque way, they squander the win away.
Week 8: Is it kinda Breesy in here? Because the Steelers get caught with their pants down as they lose to an underachieving Saints team. The ailing Packers topple the ESPN consensus No. 1 team in the league via shutout. The first of the season, by the way.
There you have it, the 2010 season in a nutshell. A very small nutshell.
If that doesn't do much to convince you that the NFL is on an as equal a playing field as ever before, just take a look at the division standings.
Currently, six of the eight divisions have teams atop the standings that differ from last season season's winners.
Of those ousted division winners—the Cowboys, the Vikings, the Saints, the Cardinals, the Bengals and the Chargers—NONE of them are even in second place in their respective divisions.
What does all this mean?
Exactly what was brought up earlier, that there is no clear-cut favorite team in the NFL right now. We are at the midway point in the season, and there is no team that can be unquestionably named the best of the best.
The race for NFL supremacy is wide open. Everyone (well, almost everyone) still has a legit shot at making the playoffs. Who will establish themselves? Who will falter?
Anything can happen—and you know what? I kinda like it that way.
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