Sunday, April 10, 2011

NFC Worst?

Originally written September 24, 2010. Updated 4/12/11.

During one of his podcasts, Bill Simmons discussed football with Cousin Sal. One of the things they touched on was how the NFC West is the worst division in football, and maybe even in sports. This seemed odd to me, considering two NFC West teams have gone to the Super Bowl since 2006. So I did a little research.  Here's the playoff records of each division, for the last 6 years:

AFC North: 13-8 (.619)

NFC West: 9-6 (.600)

NFC North: 9-7 (.563)

AFC East: 9-9 (.500)

NFC East: 11-13 (.458)

AFC South: 7-9 (.438)

NFC South: 6-8 (.429)

AFC West: 4-7 (.364)

That's right. The NFC West has the second best playoff record in the league, during that time span. The only division with a marginally better record is the division that beat them both times in the Super Bowl. And it's not like both NFC West teams just made it to the Super Bowl. Both could've, or should've, beat the Steelers either time.

Granted, playoff records aren't entirely accurate of a division's quality. The NFC East, for example, has had multiple teams make the playoffs five times in the last six years. And four of those five times, two NFC East teams have faced each other, thereby screwing up the division's postseason record, ensuring a loss and victory simultaneously.

So instead of just looking at the overall postseason records, why not see how the NFC West stacks up against the highly touted NFC East and NFC South divisions head-to-head? The West is 4-1 against the East and 4-0 against the South.

Now, this isn't pretending that, top to bottom, the West is better than all the other NFC divisions. Obviously the East and South are better divisions. At least during the regular season. And that's the key: regular season. The problem with the whole "NFC Worst" discussion is that it completely ignores the postseason, which is the only thing that truly matters. It completely ignores the fact that the West has the second best playoff record (including at least one victory every year), is 8-1 against the East and South, and has been to two Super Bowls in the past six years. What a horrible division!

And if your problem with the NFC West is the quality of the games they provide during the year? Well, you can find interest in the games by realizing whatever teams comes out of the West is almost assuredly going to have some measure of postseason success. Watch Giants-Eagles for the quality game it provides during the regular season. Watch Rams-Seahawks for the impact it will have on the playoffs.

No comments:

Post a Comment