Thursday, January 13, 2011

The “Been there, Done that” NFL Playoffs?

Now that the Colts are out of the playoffs, I have no real rooting interest in the teams leftover in the divisional round. Even worse, three of my most hated teams are still alive (Ravens, Patriots and Steelers). Unlike previous seasons with the Saints and Cardinals, there is no obvious underdog, feel-good story to rally around. In fact, all eight teams remaining have been to the Super Bowl before, winning 15 of them. Granted, the Falcons and Seahawks have never won one, but they both appeared in the big game once in the past 12 seasons. This got me thinking, is this year the most “boring, teams have been there, jaded” playoffs in recent memory?

The two main factors I looked at were years since each team’s last Super Bowl appearance and last victory. For expansion teams like Atlanta and Seattle, I used their inaugural year instead of last victory, while older teams without a ring I used the year before Super Bowl I. After averaging the eight teams “droughts” for each category I compared the numbers to the last ten playoffs.

Surprisingly, this season is not the most “boring,” but in fact ranks fourth in Super Bowl appearance average and fifth in Super Bowl victory average. While seven of the eight teams this year have made a Super Bowl since a non-gray-haired Favre led the Packers to consecutive appearances, the Jets skew the numbers. New York has not returned to the big game following Joe Namath’s huge upset, some 43 seasons ago. The most “jaded” playoffs were in 2008, during the Patriots attempted perfect season, when no one noticed that the Jags and Chargers had the longest Super Bowl droughts at only 13 years. The biggest “underdog” playoffs were actually last year, in which the Vikings, Saints, Chargers, Cardinals, and Jets were all trying to overcome 40+ seasons without a Super Bowl victory.

While this year may not be the most “boring” playoffs in the past ten seasons, other interesting stats come up. Not surprisingly the Patriots lead the NFL with seven appearances in the divisional round, followed by the Colts, Steelers, and Eagles with six. Meanwhile, the six teams with zero appearances are the usual sad suspects (Browns, Lions, Bengals), expansion Texans, and the once proud Bills and Dolphins. Some teams are overrated (Cowboys and Vikings with only 2), underrated (Eagles-6 and Ravens-5) or opportunistic (Giants and Cardinals only 2).The AFC is more consistent/predictable with four of the top five teams, while also having five of the six teams with no appearances. No wonder the Browns have struggled, since two teams in their division make it this far more than half the time.

I’m curious to see what the stats will look like for the championship game round next week. All I know is that I’ll be rooting for the Falcons (45 years) over the Jets (42) in the Super Bowl.

1 comment: