Final 2007 Relativity Index

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 01, 2008



By Brian Sheppard
Cold, Hard Football Facts
 
The Cold Hard Football Facts stand in awe of the NFL playoffs. They are a self-fulfilling prophecy that greatly rewards teams for their performance in the regular season. And the league crowns a champion righteously: with a single elimination tournament that, with occasional exceptions, produces the single best team as the winner.
 
Contrast the NFL playoffs to the Major League Baseball playoffs.
 
In 2006 the Cardinals won the World Series. But you will be pressed hard to find Cold, Hard Baseball Facts to justify the belief that St. Louis was the best team in baseball that year. After all, the 2006 Cardinals won just 51.6 percent of their games (83-78). Four National League teams, not to mention more than half the entire American League (8 of 14 teams) won a greater percentage of their games.
 
But, a variety of factors, including a playoff system that seems to last as long as a presidential election, contribute to a sport that routinely crowns weaker regular-season teams as its champions. For example, only three of the past seven Word Series have been contested by either league's top seed.
 
Part of the problem is that there is little separation between great teams and bad teams in baseball. A great baseball team will win just over 60 percent of its games. A very bad baseball team will win just under 40 percent of its games.
 
In football, the gap between great teams and bad teams is vast. The best regular-season team in football in 2006, San Diego, won 87.5 percent of its games (14-2). The worst, Oakland, won just 12.5 percent of its games (2-14).
 
Here in 2007, the gap was even greater. The best regular-season team, New England, won 100 percent of its games (16-0). The worst, Miami, won just 6.25 percent of its games (1-15).
 
Baseball compounds the problem of mediocrity and parity by playing lengthy postseason series. If you think that a five- or seven-game series is long enough to determine a clear winner in a baseball series, you're mistaken. Simply look at the American League in 2007, where the four playoff teams battled for 162 each games only to fall within 2 games of each other at the end of the season (No. 1 seed Boston was 96-66; No. 4 seed New York was 94-68).
 
MLB throws its top seeds the small bone of having "home field advantage" – an extra home game in a five- or seven-game series – as if having an edge in (possibly) one extra game of a seven-game series really makes a difference.
 
Hell, what's the purpose of playing a 162 games from March to October if you're not determine anything at the end of it all?
 
The NFL, meanwhile, gives its best teams some massive advantages: they are not only better teams, but they get a week off, they get to play at home, and they get the lower seeded opponents!
 
It's no wonder that the NFL's regular-season leaders are so regularly crowned Super Bowl champions. In fact, the Super Bowl has featured at least one top-seeded team every year since 1998.
 
Every once in a while an upset will occur, and a lower-seeded team will win despite the odds. But that's okay! The beauty of the NFL postseason is that such a team ends up looking like the best team anyway!
 
For example, the Steelers in 2005 went 11-5 in the regular season, finishing second in their division. They then swept the postseason to finish 15-5. Along the way they beat the Colts, who finished the season at 14-3. Then they beat the Broncos, who finished at 14-4. In the Super Bowl, they beat the Seahawks who finished 15-4. Bottom line: the Steelers finished with as many wins as anyone, and beat all other contenders along the way.
 
We can also put this in the context of Quality Standings. In each year since the Cold, Hard Football Facts introduced the Quality Wins Quotient in 2004, the team that won the Super Bowl ended its championship run with the league's best record vs. Quality Opponents.
 
This is why the NFL playoffs are a self-fulfilling prophecy: it is almost always true that the Super Bowl winner has more wins – and usually more Quality Wins – than anyone else.
 
The classic exception is the Rams-Patriots meeting in Super Bowl XXXVI. The Patriots finished the regular season 11-5, but earned the No. 2 seed in the AFC. They won 3 postseason games to finish at 14-5. The Rams finished 16-3, and even diehard Patriots fans would have a hard time arguing that the Pats were better than the Rams. But even in this case the winner could claim to have beaten the best that the league had to offer.
 
This year's postseason figures to be either a coronation of the Patriots as the greatest team of all time (see Relativity Index below), or a colossal cosmic comeuppance to balance their 2001 upset of the Rams.
 
Either way, the new champion will prove their worth by beating the best that the league has to offer.
 
On to the final Relativity Index chart of the 2007 season.
 
***
 
As you'll see below, there is a high correlation between the Relativity Index and onfield success. The top seven teams, and nine of the top 10, all reached the playoffs. All 12 playoff teams finished within the top 14, with Philly and Minnesota the lone interlopers.
 
The Eagles clearly suffered from playing such a tough schedule. Nobody played more than the nine games against Quality Opponents that Philly faced this year. If they had the luxury of an easier schedule - say, for example, they faced the six Quality Teams that the Cowboys faced or the mere four Quality Teams that the Packers battled - there's a very good chance we'd be talking about Philly's upcoming postseason chances.
 
FINAL 2007 RELATIVITY INDEX (playoff teams in italics)
 
Team
PPGF
PPGA
Opp-PF
Opp-PA
Relativity
1
New England
36.8
17.1
21.4
20.2
20.8
2
Indianapolis
28.1
16.4
22.1
20.8
13.1
3
Dallas
28.4
20.3
21.4
20.9
8.6
4
San Diego
25.8
17.8
22.0
21.5
8.6
5
Green Bay
27.2
18.2
21.2
21.9
8.3
6
Jacksonville
25.7
19.0
21.2
20.5
7.3
7
Pittsburgh
24.6
16.8
22.0
22.9
6.8
8
Philadelphia
21.0
18.8
23.7
21.5
4.4
9
Seattle
24.6
18.2
20.4
22.8
3.9
10
Washington
20.9
19.4
23.5
21.2
3.8
11
Minnesota
22.8
19.4
21.4
22.1
2.7
12
Tampa Bay
20.9
16.9
21.1
22.6
2.5
13
NY Giants
23.3
21.9
21.9
21.2
2.0
14
Tennessee
18.8
18.6
22.3
21.6
1.0
15
Chicago
20.9
21.8
22.8
21.4
0.5
16
Houston
23.7
24.0
20.9
20.7
0.0
17
Cleveland
25.1
23.9
20.8
22.2
-0.2
18
Cincinnati
23.8
24.1
20.5
21.8
-1.6
19
New Orleans
23.7
24.3
20.1
21.1
-1.6
20
Arizona
25.3
24.9
19.4
22.2
-2.5
21
Detroit
21.6
27.8
22.0
20.5
-4.7
22
Carolina
16.7
21.7
22.1
22.0
-4.9
23
NY Jets
16.8
22.2
22.3
21.8
-4.9
24
Denver
20.0
25.6
21.1
20.8
-5.2
25
Buffalo
15.8
22.1
23.2
22.2
-5.4
26
Baltimore
17.2
24.0
22.8
22.0
-6.1
27
Kansas City
14.1
20.9
22.3
22.5
-7.0
28
Oakland
17.7
24.9
21.7
21.9
-7.4
29
Miami
16.7
27.3
22.2
21.7
-10.2
30
Atlanta
16.2
25.9
21.1
21.7
-10.3
31
San Francisco
13.7
22.8
21.6
23.3
-10.8
32
St. Louis
16.4
27.4
21.4
22.2
-11.8

From our partners




Team Pages
AFC East NFC
South
North
West

Connect With Us
Sign up for our newsletter to recieve all the latest news and updates...
Privacy guaranteed. We'll never share your info.




The Football Nation Network

© Copyright 2014 Football Nation LLC. Privacy Policy & Terms of Use
Some images property of Getty Images or Icon/SMI