Final 2009 Quality Standings
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 03, 2010
The Cold, Hard Football Facts measures the performance of each NFL team only against opponents with winning records, or what we call Quality Teams. It eliminates the dead-weight detritus of games against second-stringers and gives you a look at the inner core of a team and lets you know how they perform when the sh*t gets heavy.
QUALITY STANDINGS UPDATE
The Super Bowl-champion Saints did not have the best overall record in football in 2009. But they did have the best record in our Quality Standings. Both conference champions were 5-1 against Quality Opponents in 2009. But the Saints clearly performed better against tough teams than the Colts.
No coincidence that the Saints, and not the Colts, won the big game. Performance against Quality Opponents is another reason why we accurately picked New Orleans to win the Super Bowl, despite the fact that Indianapolis was a 5.5-point favorite and the choice to win of 70 percent of the pigskin public.
League-wide, theNFC made a run at success in 2009, especially behind the headline-making performances of the Saints and Vikings early in the year, and late bloomers like the Packers and Cowboys in December.
But if our Quality Standings are any indication, the NFL power structure remains firmly entrenched in the AFC. The average AFC divsion played 31 games against Quality Opponents. The average NFC division played 29.
But the big difference is that AFC teams had much more success. With the exception of the NFC South, which produced three teams .500 or better, every AFC division outperformed every NFC division in games against Quality Opponents.
The numbers are consistent with what the interconference wars tell us: the AFC won the showdown once again, with a 37-27 record in interconference games. Among NFC teams, only the Saints, Vikings and Falcons posted winning marks in their non-conference contests. The senior circuit has not won an interconference battle since 1995.
Here's a look at each division in 2009 through the prism of our Quality Standings.
AFC South - 12-16 (.429)
The AFC South faced a conference-low 28 games against Quality Opponents, but had unmatched success. In fact, with two more wins, it would have been the first .500 division since we began tracking Quality Standings in 2004. The Colts were largely responsible for the division's success, with a league-leading 5-1 mark against Quality Teams.
NFC South - 12-19 (.387)
The Saints were the dominant power in the NFC in 2009, despite fading at the end of the year. With a non-division slate against the AFC East and the NFC East, the teams of the NFC South faced a tough schedule this year. The Panthers tied for the most games this year against Quality Teams with 10 (4-6). The Saints joined the Colts with a league-leading 5-1 mark against Quality Teams. However, New Orleans was easily the most dominant club over the course of the year, outscoring Quality Opponents by 10.8 PPG.
AFC East - 12-20 (.375)
The AFC East produced two playoff teams this year and had another, Miami, that was competitive for much of the year. The Dolphins tied for the most games this year against Quality Teams with 10 (3-7). The AFC East is one of two divisions that produced two teams with winning differentials against Quality Opponents (Jets, Patriots). The Jets led the division in the Quality Standings for the second year in a row.
AFC West - 11-19 (.367)
The Broncos ultimately paid for a challenging schedule: they went 4-5 against Quality Teams. San Diego is the hottest team in football, entering the playoffs with an 11-game win streak. But they faced just five Quality Opponents (3-2) and were outscored in those five games (26.4 to 26.6).
AFC North - 12-22 (.353)
When the Bengals take the crown, you know it's not been a good year for your division. In their defense, the Bengals faced nine Quality Opponents, among the most in football this year, and tied for the league lead with five Quality Wins. Baltimore also heads to the playoffs, but with a 2-7 mark against Quality Teams. Only the sad-sack Browns, Bears and Lions suffered more losses.
NFC East - 8-19 (.296)
Two playoff teams and plenty of glamour for the NFL's marquee division ... but little success against Quality Teams. The Cowboys accounted for half the division's Quality Wins.
NFC North - 9-23 (.281)
Like the NFC East, two playoff teams and plenty of headlines for the storied Black & Blue division ... but also little success against Quality Teams. However, the Vikings and Packers both boast winning differentials against Quality Teams. Only eight teams in football can make that claim.
NFC West - 4-22 (.154)
Another year, another pathetic showing for the NFC Worst. The division went just 5-30 (.143) against Quality Teams last year and, since we've been tracking Quality Standings, this division has consistently been the least competitive in football.
Final 2009 Quality Standings
|AFC East||NFC East|
|New England||3||4||24.4||24.0||N.Y. Giants||3||6||24.9||34.2|
|AFC North||NFC North|
|AFC South||NFC South|
|AFC West||NFC West|
|Kansas City||1||6||16.6||31.3||St. Louis||0||7||13.1||30.3
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