Final 2008 Quality Standings
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 28, 2008
QUALITY STANDINGS UPDATE
Here's a look at how each division performed in 2008 against Quality Opponents. It gives us some insight into which teams are the most battle-tested by tough divisional play heading into the postseason.
The divisions are listed according to winning percentage vs. Quality Teams.
NFC East - 18-17 (.514)
Touted as the league's Glamour Division since the start of the season, the NFC East ended the year clearly the class of the league and the only foursome with a winning record against Quality Teams. Hell, even the Sunshine Supermen and Cursed wretches from Dallas bested three teams with winning records. The Giants, meanwhile, end with more Quality Wins (six) than any team in football in 2008. If the Redskins had held off the 49ers in Week 17 and ended the year 9-7, the Giants would have boasted a record eight Quality Wins this year.
Verdict: The battle-tested Giants remain favorites to return to the Super Bowl; the Eagles, with a +5.8 PPG scoring differential vs. Quality Opponents, best in the NFL, are an intriguing dark horse.
NFC South - 14-16 (.467)
Quite a resurgence this year for the typically weak NFC South. Remember, Tampa won the division crown last year with a 9-7 record. This year, every team in the division is .500 or better overall, two of its members reached the postseason and only the NFC East boasts more combined Quality Wins this year.
Verdict: Panthers, 4-4, are itching for a rematch with the Giants. But their -2.5 PPG scoring differential against Quality competition tells us where Carolina stands.
AFC South - 14-17 (.452)
Only four teams bested five or more Quality Opponents this year. Two are in the powerful NFC East, and two are here in the top-heavy AFC South (Tennessee and Indy). The Titans ended the season with a league-best 13-3 overall record, while the Colts enter the playoffs with a league-high nine-game win streak. In fact, their matching 5-2 records (.714) against Quality Teams gives these AFC South powers the best Quality winning percentage in the NFL this year.
Verdict: Watch out, Super Bowl!
AFC East - 9-17 (.346)
The AFC East toyed with turning into a power division this year, and three of its members ended the year with winnning records overall. However, the humble record vs. Quality Opponents says it all: this division benefited from a weak schedule that included eight games for each team against opponents from the weak AFC West and weaker NFC West. The AFC East faced a league-low 26 Quality Opponents. Curiosity of the day: the Jets, 4-2 against Quality Opponents, led the NFL this year with a +5.8 PPG scoring differential against winning teams (tied with Philly). Of course, the bulk of that differential came from the 56-35 statistical outlier of a win over the Cardinals back in September.
Verdict: Dolphins are a nice story and our team of the year, but have no shot of reaching the Super Bowl.
AFC West - 8-20 (.286)
It pretty much says it all when the winner of the division is just 8-8. The Chargers join the 1985 Browns as the only team in NFL history to win a conference or division with a .500 overall record. But they're also the most battle-tested team in the division, with eight games this year against Quality Opponents. The Chargers also boast a +4.6 PPG differential against Quality Teams, the best mark of any AFC playoff team.
Verdict: The 1979 Rams (9-7) are the worst team to win a conference title; the Chargers could outdo them in mediocrity and win the AFC title at 8-8. They certainly have the horses to pull off a couple of upsets.
NFC North - 10-26 (.278)
At the end of the day, the division-champ Vikings boast more Quality Wins (four) and the best Quality Record (4-5) of any team in the foursome. But little jumps out either way from this division other than the general all-around futility of the Lions.
Verdict: The Black & Blow Division lives down to its reputation once again as the foursome has produced just one conference champion in the past 11 seasons (2005 Bears) and just two Super Bowl champions (1985 Bears, 1996 Packers) since Green Bay swept Super Bowls I and II.
AFC North - 8-26 (.235)
The AFC North has been a top-heavy division dominated by Pittsburgh since it was the AFC Central back in the 1970s. The Steelers have had great teams, but have also largely benefited from weak competition over the years, as CHFF has chronicled in the past. The 2008 season is no exception: the Browns and Bengals were a combined 1-17 vs. Quality Teams, meaning Pittsburgh padded its resume with 25 percent of its games of the cupcake variety. The Steelers are a respectable 4-4 vs. Quality Teams, but did not fare well against the better teams to reach the postseason: they're 0-4 against the Titans, Colts, Eagles and Giants and were outscored by nearly 10.0 PPG in those four games.
Verdict: Not enough horsepower in the division to make a Super Bowl run.
NFC West - 5-30 (.143)
Here's all you need to know: the Cardinals won this uncompetitive train wreck of a division with a 9-7 overall record and a 2-6 record against Quality Opponents, easily the worst mark of any playoff contender. Not only that, Arizona was outscored by 11.9 PPG in those eight games.
Verdict: Our pre-season prediction of the third postseason victory in Cardinals franchise history falls short for the one-and-done NFC West champs.
Final 2008 Quality Standings
|AFC East||NFC East|
|N.Y. Jets||4||2||28.5||22.7||N.Y. Giants*||6||3||26.0||20.7|
|AFC North||NFC North|
|AFC South||NFC South|
|AFC West||NFC West|
|San Diego*||3||5||24.9||20.3||San Fran||1||7||19.5||26.8|
|Kansas City||0||7||16.6||31.3||St. Louis||1||9||13.4||30.5|
1 Bengals also tied Philly, a Quality Team; scoring stats include the tie.
* Playoff teams
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