Parity Dead: Manning, Brady, Great QBs Still Rule NFL

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 03, 2012



(NSFW) Bluto declared dead enemies of the Delta House; we're declaring dead the notion of NFL parity

 

Wormer? He’s a dead man.

Marmalad. Dead!

Niedermayer? Dead!

Parity. Dead!

The lack of so-called “parity” in the NFL has been an ongoing theme here at the mighty Cold, Hard Football Facts for the better part of our history.

The 2012 season provides further evidence that "parity" is nothing more than a topic to fill space and time in sports chatter circles and not a real phenomenon. Three teams wrapped up division crowns this weekend, with a full one-quarter of the season still to be play.

No surprise that two of those teams, the Patriots and Broncos, are led by the two most dominant quarterbacks of our generation: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

The Patriots have now won the AFC East for the 10th time in 12 years, losing out twice on tie-breakers. In other words, they’ve posted the best record in the division 12 straight years. No team in history has matched that feat.

Brady is the first quarterback to win 10 division championships, including nine straight (he was injured for the entirety of the 2008 season).

Manning has now won nine division titles with two different teams, including eight of the last nine in seasons in which he played (he was injured for the entirety of the 2011 season).

It’s hard to claim the NFL is defined by “parity” when we’re witnessing periods of historic dominance by individual franchises and players.

The NFL has attempted to legislate equality on the playing field, through methods such as draft order and salary caps. But that effort has failed miserably. In fact, it may have even backfired.

The salary cap has concentrated power in the hands of well-managed teams. It’s no mystery that the same organizations seem to win year after year, including the Colts (back in the playoff hunt after a one-year self-induced coma), Giants, Patriots, Packers and Steelers.

More importantly, the NFL’s effort to neuter defenses has emphasized the importance of a single player: the quarterback.

Teams with great quarterbacks have always dominated. They dominate more than ever now with the table slanted in their favor.

Rest assured, the AFC title game will likely feature one or more of the following quarterbacks just as it has for more than a decade: Brady, Manning and/or Ben Roethlisberger, who will return soon to a Pittsburgh team that just beat arch-rival Baltimore behind third-string QB Charlie Batch.

The NFC has not been so top-heavy. But don’t be shocked if Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, or Eli Manning and the Giants, are there once again in the NFC title game and perhaps the Super Bowl.

Here’s a look at the number of division titles won by each franchise since the AFL-NFL merger (since 1970). Plus, below, a table listing every division champion year by year.

TOTAL DIVISION TITLES for EACH TEAM (SINCE 1970)

Arizona/StL Cardinals – 4 (2 NFCE; 2 NFCW)

Atlanta – 5 (2 NFCW; 3 NFCS)*

Baltimore Ravens – 3

Buffalo – 7

Carolina – 3 (1 NFCW; 2 NFCS)

Chicago – 10

Cincinnati – 7

Cleveland – 6

Dallas – 17

Denver – 12*

Detroit – 3

Green Bay – 9

Houston Texans – 1

Indianapolis/Baltimore Colts – 13 (6 AFCE; 7 AFCS)

Jacksonville – 2

Kansas City – 6

Miami – 13

Minnesota – 16

New England – 14*

New York Giants – 8

New York Jets – 2

New Orleans – 5 (2 NFCW; 3 NFCS)

Oakland/L.A Raiders – 12

Philadelphia – 8

Pittsburgh – 20

San Diego – 10

San Francisco - 18

Seattle – 7 (2 AFCW; 5 NFCW)

StL/LA Rams – 11

Tampa Bay – 6 (3 NFCC; 3 NFCS)

Tennessee Titans/Oilers – 5 (3 AFCN; 2 AFCS)

Washington – 6

* includes 2012 division crown

DIVISION WINNERS YEAR BY YEAR SINCE 1970

 AFCEAFCC/NAFCSAFCWNFCENFCC/NNFCSNFCW
1970ColtsCincy OaklandDallasMinn San Fran
1971MiamiCleveland KCDallasMinn San Fran
1972MiamiPittsburgh OaklandWashGreen Bay San Fran
1973MiamiCincy OaklandDallasMinn LA Rams
1974MiamiPittsburgh OaklandSTL CardMinn LA Rams
1975ColtsPittsburgh OaklandSTL CardMinn LA Rams
1976ColtsPittsburgh OaklandDallasMinn LA Rams
1977ColtsPittsburgh DenverDallasMinn LA Rams
1978NEPittsburgh DenverDallasMinn LA Rams
1979MiamiPittsburgh San DiegoDallasTampa LA Rams
1980BuffaloCleveland San DiegoPhillyMinn Atlanta
1981MiamiCincy San DiegoDallasTampa San Fran
1983MiamiPittsburgh LARaidersWashDetroit San Fran
1984MiamiPittsburgh DenverWashChicago San Fran
1985MiamiCleveland LARaidersDallasChicago LA Rams
1986NECleveland DenverNYGChicago San Fran
1987IndyCleveland DenverWashChicago San Fran
1988BuffaloCincy SeattlePhillyChicago San Fran
1989BuffaloCleveland DenverNYGMinn San Fran
1990BuffaloCincy LARaidersNYGChicago San Fran
1991BuffaloOilers DenverWashDetroit NO
1992MiamiPittsburgh San DiegoDallasMinn San Fran
1993BuffaloOilers KCDallasDetroit San Fran
1994MiamiPittsburgh San DiegoDallasMinn San Fran
1995BuffaloPittsburgh KCDallasGreen Bay San Fran
1996NEPittsburgh DenverDallasGreen Bay Carolina
1997NEPittsburgh KCNYGGreen Bay San Fran
1998NYJJax DenverDallasMinn Atlanta
1999IndyJax SeattleWashTampa StL Rams
2000MiamiTenn OaklandNYGMinn NO
2001NEPittsburgh OaklandPhillyChicago StL Rams
2002NYJPittsburghTennOaklandPhillyGreen BayTampaSan Fran
2003NEBaltIndyKCPhillyGreen BayCarolinaStL Rams
2004NEPittsburghIndySan DiegoPhillyGreen BayAtlantaSeattle
2005NECincyIndyDenverNYGChicagoTampaSeattle
2006NEBaltIndySan DiegoPhillyChicagoNOSeattle
2007NEPittsburghIndySan DiegoDallasGreen BayTampaSeattle
2008MiamiPittsburghTennSan DiegoNYGMinnCarolinaArizona
2009NECincyIndySan DiegoDallasMinnNOArizona
2010NEPittsburghIndyKCPhillyChicagoAtlantaSeattle
2011NEBaltHoustonDenverNYGGreen BayNOSan Fran
2012NE  Denver  Atlanta 

Note: the NFL did not use a divisional format during the strike-shortened season of 1982


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