FanPost

Defense against the "It was just the Rams" Argument

A friend of mine asked me today if I had heard much downplaying of the win because "it was just the Rams." I sent my response as follows, and felt that I spent way too much time on it to only share it with one person.

I cannot tell you how much I hate that argument [the "it was just {X} team" argument]. When you beat a team, you contribute to their loss record, to their approach to future coaching, to their morale and mentality going forward... I think every successful team can look back on a season and most of their wins are going to be against "just the " teams because THEY helped contribute to the loss.

Losers this weekend in games that they were "supposed" to win:
Packers
49ers
Falcons
Texans (Losing to the Ravens is nothing to be ashamed of, but I'd argue that the Texans, at 2-0, were likely considered favorites over the 1-1 Ravens)

Breaking down the season so far...

Teams that came in mediocre to bad, and have stayed there:
Cardinals - transition season 1-2
Panthers - hard to type after their BEAUTIFUL beat-down of the Giants, but that may say more about the Giants 1-2
Jaguars - OMG please move to Los Angeles 0-3
Browns - Possibly improving with a new QB 1-2
Bills - transition season, in a tough division though 1-2
Raiders - relatively unknown, except that they're 1-1 & about to play Denver tonight
Chargers - Beat the Eagles, so that's something; could be better or worse than expected 1-2

Teams that were supposed to be "good," improved, or on the upswing, but aren't showing it yet:
Redskins - RG3 & Alfred Morris! 0-3
Vikings - AP! 0-3
Buccaneers - Big offseason defensive moves! 0-3
Giants - Elol and that "legendary" defense! 0-3
Steelers - Offensive Line is STUD! 0-3
Packers - Rodgers the one man show! 1-2
Falcons - Matt Ryan & Co! 1-2
49ers - Kaepernick = Ra the Sun God! 1-2
Eagles - CHIPKELLYOMGTHEOFFENSEISSOFASTANDUNSTOPPABLE 1-2
Rams - Stout defense and solid offensive line... until Sunday 1-2

Surprise teams this year, so far (listing teams beat):
Dolphins - 3-0, vs Browns, Colts, Falcons
Chiefs - 3-0, vs Jaguars, Cowboys, Eagles
Cowboys - 2-1, vs Giants, Rams
Bears - 3-0, vs Bengals, Vikings, Steelers
Bengals - 2-1, vs Steelers, Packers
Jets - 2-1, vs Buccaneers, Bills
Titans - 2-1, vs Steelers, Chargers
Saints - 3-0, vs Falcons, Buccaneers, Cardinals
Lions - 2-1, vs Vikings, Redskins

Teams expected to succeed and are, but inconsistently:
Patriots - 3-0, barely beating Bills, Jets, and handily beating Bucs
Ravens - 2-1, vs Browns, Texans

Teams actually meeting their preseason "success" expectations:
Broncos - 2-0, vs Ravens, Giants; play Raiders tonight
Seahawks - 3-0, vs Panthers, 49ers, Jaguars
Colts - 2-1, vs Oakland, 49ers
Texans - 2-1, vs Chargers, Titans

That's where we stand this week. That list pretty much goes from bad to good, although each subheading isn't ranked in any particular order (i.e. I don't consider the Cardinals worse than the Jaguars).

If you take a look at the winning teams, nearly all of their wins came against losing teams. We're all ready to crown the Seahawks as super bowl bound right?!? I mean... c'mon, their wins have been incredibly convincing (and I'm not being sarcastic here) but if you want to play the "but they played" game, they "only" beat the Panthers, 49ers, and Jaguars - all pretty bad teams.

Even the Broncos, who look fantastic, have done so against the Ravens and the Giants, and have tonight's game to play. I don't question that they're a legit contender, but can't we also say that the only "good" team they've played is the Ravens, assuming they beat the Raiders tonight?

What about the Saints? It's all the talk right now, how Rob Ryan finally has a defense that can play his style! Ok they beat the Falcons, but the Buccaneers and Cardinals? Are those really the litmus test of his defense? And the Falcons are 1-2, so what does that really say about the Saints?

Looking at this list, I don't see a single team that's beaten other winning-record-teams for every victory. Here's a list of teams that, assuming "strength of opponent" metrics, look to be the "best" teams right now:

"Elite"
1. Dolphins: Combined stats of beaten teams: 4-5

"Decent"
2. Texans: Combined stats of beaten teams: 3-3
3. Broncos: Combined stats of beaten teams: 2-4 (with a game to play tonight against a 1-1)
3. Chiefs: Combined stats of beaten teams: 3-6
3. Patriots: Combined stats of beaten teams: 3-6
4. Bears: Combined stats of beaten teams: 2-7
4. Seahawks: Combined stats of beaten teams: 2-7
4. Saints: Combined stats of beaten teams: 2-7

"We'll See"
5. Everyone else who has a winning record, because I think I've made my point

Are the Cowboys the only team that gets the "well it was ONLY the {X} team" treatment? The way I see it, if you want to hold a standard up to the Cowboys, you have to hold it up to every team. When doing that, however, my original thesis becomes obvious: the majority of wins for all teams are against teams with losing records, because they helped contribute to that losing record. It's what gives the NFL such parity, and why every game is so important.

When it comes down to it, the Jaguars aren't that far off from the Broncos or Seahawks or Bears or Saints or Dolphins. Professional football players and NFL teams are so razor-thin close in terms of competitiveness, that one team can go from terrible to fantastic from one season to the next (Chiefs, Dolphins, Titans) and other teams can go from conference champions to total suckfest (49ers) or perennial contenders to winless (Steelers, Giants). You simply cannot assign the "it was just {X} team" to any win, because then EVERY winning team gets an asterisk next to their record.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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