The League

Mark Maske
Staff Writer

Mark Maske

Writes the NFL News Feed blog

Strange Happenings This Season


The NFL is all about competitive balance. The franchises share revenues to promote it. There's a salary cap, a draft that gives the top picks to the teams with the worst records and a scheduling format that makes things a bit tougher for the better clubs.

But is competitive balance out of whack?

Two seasons ago, the New England Patriots had the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history. Last season, the Detroit Lions had the first 0-16 season. And now, four weeks into this season, there is a bit of a split between "have" and "have not" teams. There are five unbeaten teams (Giants, Saints, Vikings, Broncos and Colts) and six winless clubs (Buccaneers, Rams, Chiefs, Browns, Titans and Panthers).

That means that 34 percent of the league, 11 of 32 teams, is either undefeated or winless. According to Football Outsiders, that's the highest such percentage four weeks into a season since 1998.

So it's indisputable that there are some odd happenings so far this season. But what do those numbers mean?

Ask people who know the game, and they'll tell you they don't read too much into the number of unbeaten teams. But they do look at the winless clubs and say there are more teams than usual without much of a chance to win more than a few games this season.

However, competitive balance isn't really out of whack, the experts say, because it's not the same teams, for the most part, doing the winning and the same clubs doing the losing from one season to the next. Who expected the Titans and Panthers to be winless right now after they went a combined 25-7 last season? Who expected the Broncos to be 4-0?

Commissioner Roger Goodell says the games are ever more competitive and the margin between winning and losing in the league is oh-so-thin. TV ratings are up this season, so fans clearly aren't losing interest.

So maybe there aren't sweeping conclusions to be drawn just yet, but it is a trend that might be worth monitoring in a league known for its parity.

Read more on the this from Mark Maske...

By Mark Maske  |  October 9, 2009; 6:06 PM ET  | Category:  Carolina Panthers , Cleveland Browns , Indianapolis Colts , Kansas City Chiefs , Mark Maske , Minnesota Vikings , New Orleans Saints , New York Giants , St. Louis Rams , Tampa Bay Buccaneers , Tennessee Titans Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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