NFL Dogs or "Yeh...but Look Who They've Played."

jeff ircinkCorrespondent INovember 6, 2008

I was listening to ESPN radio in Los Angeles this morning on my way into work and the host was discussing the sports world's fascination with the following bit of conversation you hear around the water cooler:

LAUREL:  "Wow - NFL team> is playing great ball!"

HARDY:  (Sigh.) "Yeh...but look who they've played."

So we're at the half-way point in the NFL season. Your team is having a great season. And your bubble's suddenly burst by people who say the only reason your team's excelling is because your team beat a bunch of dog teams (I had to somehow work a picture of my brother's American water spaniels into the story).

The retort, "yeh...but look at who they've played" comment is a misnomer and makes no sense whatsoever. I'm tiring of it and I'll tell you why.

You can explain away, "yeh...but look who they've played" by using the tried-and-true expressions, "a win's a win" OR "on any given Sunday", both seemingly preached every week by teams who barely beat an opponent OR played horribly and yet eeked out a victory.

Or you can explain it away by using logic. Let me use my New York Jets as an example (to refresh your memory, I was a Packer Backer since I was 1 and have supported Brett Favre throughout his tenure with the Pack - who I am boycotting this season):

Here's who the Jets beat:

Buffalo (5-3), Miami (4-4), Arizona (5-3), Bengals (1-8),  Chiefs (1-7)

Three of those teams are considered to be formidable opponents right now - even Miami at 4-4. Funny, I remember when Favre threw 6 TDs against Arizona and people said, "yeh...but it was AZ". Yup.

The Jets lost to:  Patriots (5-3), Oakland (2-6) and Chargers (3-5)

Two of these teams are considered formidable opponents (even though the Chargers are 3-5). Jets should've beaten Oakland in OT.

My point is that you can say "yeh...but look who they've played" about every single team in the NFL. But in order to achieve a 16-0 mark in the regular season - to achieve perfection (if you define "perfection" as doing everything "right"), you HAVE TO BEAT the dogs. YOU HAVE TO BEAT the teams people are gonna say, "yeh...but look who they've played" about. There's no way around it.

Look at the Tennessee Titans. They're 8-0 and have beaten ONE team with a winning record (Baltimore at 5-3) and three teams that are 4-4. If Tennessee hadn't beaten the "dog" teams that are below .500, the Titans would be sitting at 4-4.

And if you look at the Titan's remaining 8 games, they play three teams above .500 and one team at 4-4 (Indy). If they go on to beat those "dog" teams in the 2nd half of the season and, let's say lose to the three winning teams, they would end their season at 13-3. They would've lost to three teams with winning records and beat 13 teams that one could echo, "yeh...but look who they've played".

So the saying, "yeh...but look who they've played" has no relevance when discussing a team's record. Who you beat or lost to - in the end - is second to what your record is and how far you get into the playoffs. And a Super Bowl ring. Period.

Do you honestly think any NFL player would be discriminating of a SB ring because of "who they played"?