Through the first five weeks of the season, there have been plenty of close games and the standings remain tight. If you think this is a coincidence, then [add snarky remark here].
The NFL has understood probably better than any other sports organization that the key to economic success in a professional sports league is to maintain parity; the entire NFL business model is built on this. Any given Sunday almost any team can emerge victorious. It's what keeps the product interesting, it's what's keeping people buying tickets and merchandize, and it's what drives ratings (the top nine programs watched on TV this fall are all NFL games).
Part of the promise of the NFL is that no team will be terrible forever. The fans in Cleveland believe this, the fans in Buffalo believe this. The delusional people in Philadelphia believe their team will one day win the Super Bowl. Even the Redskins fans, who've seen four winning seasons in the last 19 years, think this could be their year. Obviously, that's an idea they stole from us.
Of course, with the parity built into the NFL comes unpredictability:
- Entering Week 6, there are 17 teams with a .500 or better record. That’s three behind the most such teams (20) through the first five weeks of a season in NFL history.
- Of the 17 teams with a .500 or better record, more than half (nine) won eight games or fewer a year ago. Those nine clubs, who have a combined 28-15 (.651) record this season, finished 2011 with a 54-90 (.375) mark.
- More than half of the games played (39 of 77) were decided by a touchdown or less.
Parity is good for generating excitement. Parity is good for giving fans hope. Parity is good for generating ratings and clicks.
But parity doesn't make picking winners any easier, and this week we have a season-low of only two unanimous picks. Our own BTB consensus pick (which is slightly hampered by picking the Cowboys most of the time) is running at a not so impressive 60% accuracy (46-31), still one game behind the consensus picks in KDs 10-for-10 contest.
And this week, we see the first defectors from our we-pick-the-Cowboys-all-the-time mantra. Below are all our picks for Week 6, 2012. Boo loudly.
Soooo ... Cowboys or Ravens: Who's your pick?