Saturday, October 27, 2007

Another year for the AFC

Is this the year the NFC finally reaches its nadir and begins a rebound toward the dominance it enjoyed for a decade-and-a-half from '82 to '97? When the AFC's sixth-seeded Steelers entered the Superbowl as favorites against the NFC's top-seeded Seahawks, and proceeded to make good on the favored status by shutting Seattle down entirely, it seemed that the pendelum had swung as far as it could, given the league's 'socialistic' profit-sharing and salary cap structures (the NFL is perhaps the largest private trust that has never been targeted under Sherman Antitrust rules). An age of parity dictates a little more randomness, does it not?

Thus far, the inter-conference games haven't been especially lopsided. The AFC is up 13-9, winning on average by a score of 22-17. But this year's Superbowl is likely going to effectively be the AFC championship game between the Colts and Patriots. New England's obliteration of Dallas helped remove the veneer of any real NFC threat.

The Cowboys--the NFC's putative best--struggled to beat both Miami (the AFC's worst) and Minnesota, in addition to pulling off a miracle against the hapless Bills. Meanwhile, with the best offense and the fourth best defense (the prevent schemes winning teams like the Patriots frequently go into make the yardage allowed appear worse than their actual play merits) in the league, the New England has beaten its opponents by an average of more than 22 points per game.

Why the emergence of 'dynasties', while other franchises (the Browns) are continually uncompetitive? Whenever I'm grasping for something to make it appear as though I'm semi-literate regarding the NFL while in conversation with someone who the team rosters inside and out, I usually mutter a profundity about how socialism is no good except in the world of sports. NFL seasons certainly are less predictable than MLB seasons are.

But the 'socialism' label isn't accurate. Instead, the NFL is setup so as to maximize the equality of means to a high degree. Just as in the real world, that does not guarantee an equality of outcomes. Good thing, too, as a Superbowl between to 9-7 teams wouldn't have the same luster as a clash of 13-3 squads does.

Instead, the league places more emphasis on the abilities and the corresponding costs of utilizing the abilities of all involved (players, GMs, coaches) than baseball does. And competitive undertakings are more exciting when they're based on talent than when they're based on inheritance or geographic location.

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