by TOM WEPPEL
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
For oh-so-long, the stance a good amount of fans and so-called ‘experts’ have always wanted to take says that parity is always a very good thing in sports, no matter what the sport…no matter what the league. When a number of teams participate and go against one another, it is looked upon as a good thing when all the teams end up with records close to .500.
And if that is indeed the case, then the way things are in the NFL can be thought of as great competition! Case in point…going into this weekends’ games, ten of the sixteen teams in the AFC are within one game of .500, and only two teams (Texans, Ravens) have records better than that mark.
In the NFC, seven of the teams have a mark within a game of .500, with three teams (Giants, Vikings, 49ers) at 5-2.
Also, when following games thru the Vegas lines, it has been shown that more underdog teams that go into games not favored to win, end up doing so.
And so, while that certainly promotes competition in all ways, shapes, and forms, it also means that trying to find or root for a dominant franchise in the NFL this season has been scarce, without question. Going into this weekend, we see the Falcons (6-0) as the last undefeated squad left, while the Bears and Texans are the only two teams with one loss.
Going into this weekend, we don’t see or hear or read about fans giving these teams a lot of support and enthusiasm. With mediocrity so very prevalent throughout the League, it means teams are being looked at with only a slight hint of excitement, wondering how things will shake out as we go into the second half of the season.
Should we consider all this a good thing? Or, do we miss having teams like the Patriots, the Packers, the Cowboys, and the Steelers be playing such that they are showing complete dominance during their respective seasons? While it would certainly cultivate a whole lot more discussion and support, it would also bring on a lot more fans showing their distaste, which is something in many ways sports fans look for.
With the season barely half way complete, it means there is plenty of football left to be played. It will be interesting to see how things go throughout the rest of the year. Parity could end up still showing strength throughout the League, or, we could see one or two teams emerge as being dominant, heading into the post season. What will happen to Houston and Atlanta? Will they both continue their winning ways? Or will they both get caught by the likes of teams like Green Bay and Pittsburgh…teams currently hovering around .500.
We shall see…
Going into some of the games this weekend, I was kind of surprised in comparing some of the lines that were established by some of the odds makers.
Here are some examples…
In Norman, OK, the OU Sooners (5-1) were hosting the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-0)…a team many were starting to give consideration to for the BCS. The Irish went in ranked 5th, while the Sooners went in ranked 7th. Yet at game time, the SOONERS were favored to win by ELEVEN points!
Now…does that make any sense at all?! I’m sure there were plenty of bettors who placed something on that game, simply watching to see how it came out…
How about Kansas State? Here they are, having fantastic a fantastic season so far (7-0), ranked 4th in the country, and looking solid and strong in all ways. This weekend, they were at home, hosting the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who were 6-1 and ranked 17th. Last week, Kansas state beat West Virginia…ranked 15th at the time…by 41 points!
And, with all that said, Kansas State was ONLY favored by SEVEN points to beat Texas Tech!
If I was a betting man, I would placed a bet for K-State, then run to the BANK on that one!
How about an SEC match up between undefeated, #1 ranked Alabama (7-0), at home hosting the undefeated #12 ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (also 7-0). While plenty fans and traditionalists will side with the Crimson Tide, it is also fair to say the Bulldogs have had a good season and are a decent force to be reckoned with.
But Alabama went into this game as a 24-point favorite! Obviously, Mississippi State had no respect!
Those, lines, and a few others, just go to show you…there are a number of factors that go into determining favorites and lines in college football…