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What it means to be a proven winner In the NFL

NY Jets Football Field Photography by Steven Villaverde

A team’s record during the regular season should be a measuring gauge to see how well a team is doing but it does not define whether the team is good. Bill Parcell’s infamous quote (“You are what your record says you are“) holds true only after the end of the season.

In the 2009 season, the Denver Broncos started 6-0 yet missed the playoffs after ending the season with an 8-8 record. Likewise, the New York Giants missed the playoffs the same season after starting 5-0 but finishing 8-8.

Teams can only be defined at the end of the season and any classification of the team during the season is only speculative.

It Takes Consistency

What then is the best way to value a team during the course of any season? The current record should be factored in together with the team’s historical record in order to project the actual value of the team’s wins. Good teams don’t just have one winning season, rather, good franchises have a history of winning seasons.

The San Francisco 49ers may be having a winning season but if you factor in their record the past two years, this year’s wins cannot define the team as stable and a guaranteed contender. At least, not more so than the New York Jets (and others) who have historically been proven winners. Maybe the 49ers are progressing to be contenders but they should only be given credit after having a winning record for more than one season.

Don’t Forget about the Past

As of week 9, below are the NFL teams with a winning record ranked by their winning percentage for the 2011 season.

Team W L Pct
1 Green Bay Packers 8 0 1.00
2 San Francisco 49ers 7 1 0.88
3 Baltimore Ravens 6 2 0.75
4 Cincinnati Bengals 6 2 0.75
5 Detroit Lions 6 2 0.75
6 Houston Texans 6 3 0.67
7 New Orleans Saints 6 3 0.67
8 New York Giants 6 2 0.75
9 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 3 0.67
10 Atlanta Falcons 5 3 0.63
11 Buffalo Bills 5 3 0.63
12 Chicago Bears 5 3 0.63
13 New England Patriots 5 3 0.63
14 New York Jets 5 3 0.63
15 Oakland Raiders 5 3 0.56

However,  the rankings changes if we combine this season’s record together with the record from the previous two seasons for each of these teams.

Team W L Pct
1 Green Bay Packers 29 11 0.73
2 New Orleans Saints 30 11 0.73
3 New England Patriots 29 11 0.73
4 Baltimore Ravens 27 13 0.68
5 Atlanta Falcons 27 13 0.68
6 Pittsburgh Steelers 27 14 0.66
7 New York Jets 25 15 0.63
8 New York Giants 24 16 0.60
9 Chicago Bears 23 17 0.58
10 San Francisco 49ers 21 19 0.53
11 Houston Texans 21 20 0.51
12 Cincinnati Bengals 20 20 0.50
13 Oakland Raiders 18 22 0.45
14 Buffalo Bills 15 25 0.38
15 Detroit Lions 14 26 0.35

The Green Bay Packers remain a legitimate 1st place team, however, the 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals no longer occupy such a high ranking. This average is not meant to discredit teams such as the 49ers. Rather, this average is meant to value the wins earned during the course of the season and to project how a franchise will fair at the end of the season. The Bengals may currently have more wins than the Jets but the Jets have shown over the past two years that they find a way to win by the end of the season. Teams go through winning spurts during the season but most often it is the consistent teams that finish the season making the playoffs. In this light, the Jets need to be valued as the top 10 NFL team that they have established themselves as with their winning trajectory.

Photo credits: Steven V.

I don't know. Sometimes it feels like my writing & thoughts are way off. Who knows if it'll help anyone or if it means anything.

Written by Nassau Jones

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