Parity yes, 20-point blowouts not so much in the NFL

Nov 18, 2008 5:11 PM

Feist Facts by Jim Feist |

For years, pro football has been the sports leader when it comes to parity. Pete Rozelle was credited with, "On any given Sunday any team can beat another."

You say, "Wait a minute – the Titans started 8-0. Where’s the parity?" How about two wins by seven points and two others by a field goal? They didn’t lose a game in the first half of the season, but were far from dominant.

The Patriots last year were fortunate to run the regular season table with wins over the Colts, Eagles, Ravens and Giants by 4, 3, 3 and 3 points. Counting the playoffs, the Patriots went 2-9 against the spread their final 11 games. Injuries are the most obvious factor in leveling the playing field, turning powerhouse teams on paper into paper tigers.

There’s an old betting adage about going against NFL teams who roll by 20 points in back-to-back games. That’s not easy to do, but a club off two blowout wins can be overvalued.

This season the West has been particularly brutal, with the Cardinals running away in the NFC ahead of three other teams starting 2-7, and the Broncos in the AFC trying to stay above .500 – which is good enough for first place!

Revenue sharing, the draft and the salary cap have all helped to level the playing field more or less and keep competitive balance. Even the worst NFL team would trounce the best college football team if the two were able to face off at the end of each season.

The draft is a major contributor to parity, with the worst teams having the first shot at the best players. Salary caps and free agency make it difficult for teams to simply buy players to shore up weak areas, as is the case in baseball.

In football, if you pay a lot to get or retain a key player, you may lose a star in another area. Overall, you rarely see pro teams keep up 20-point or more dominance for more than two games.