Thursday, January 05, 2006

Ranking NFC Teams

I'm a total contrarian and I'm looking for any angle to believe the Redskins can actually get to the Super Bowl, so I've spent a few minutes this morning backing up a theory I have about the NFC's sacrificial lambs for this year's Super Bowl. Basically, when I see a record, I don't think, "wow that team must be good." The quality of those wins is a relevant factor. Seattle's 13 wins looks good, but when you look a little deeper some things become clear.

First, Seattle played in the JV division of the NFC - which is saying a lot since the Bears didn't exactly have the steepest competition in the NFC North. Here's a ranking that shows the strength of schedule of the playoff teams:

1. Washington - 10 games against winning teams, 5 against playoff teams
2. New York Giants - 9 games against winning teams, 4 against playoff teams
3. Tampa Bay - 7 games against winning teams, 5 against playoff teams
4. Chicago - 7 games against winning teams, 5 against playoff teams
5. Carolina - 7 games against winning teams, 4 against playoff teams
6. Seattle - 5 games against winning teams, 4 against playoff teams

Obviously, Seattle didn't have a tough schedule.

Further, the only NFC team with a winning record against playoff teams was...drum roll...the 2005 Washington Redskins. Here's that ranking:

1. Washington - 3-2 against playoff teams
2. Seattle - 2-2 against playoff teams
3. NY Giants - 2-2 against playoff teams
4. Chicago - 2-3 against playoff teams
5. Tampa Bay - 2-3 against playoff teams
6. Carolina - 2-3 against playoff teams

The last bit of data: Record against teams with a winning record (including playoff teams):

1. Seattle - 3-2 against winning teams
2. Tampa Bay - 4-3 against winning teams
3. Washington - 5-5 against winning teams
4. NY Giants - 4-5 against winning teams
5. Chicago - 3-4 against winning teams
6. Carolina - 3-4 against winning teams

A few final points:

One of Seattle's big wins was against Indianapolis, but should be discounted. The Colts starters barely played in that game, so Seattle basically had another JV team to beat up on.

The Giants had 9 home games this year since the Saints game to start the season was relocated to New York. Worth mentioning because it pisses me off and because they didn't win any road games against good teams.

Tampa Bay had the fortitude to lose to both the New York Jets AND the San Francisco 49ers - two of the worst teams in the league.

Carolina only lost to one bad team all season - the New Orleans Saints in the opener.

What does all this mean? Let's face it, not a whole lot. But I find it very interesting that while pretty much everyone in the sports media world is knocking down Jacksonville for having a weak schedule, pretty much no one is even mentioning the fact that the weakest schedule for any playoff team was found in Seattle.


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