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Parityville: It's a Billy Beane-esque Race in the NFC

If you've read Michael Lewis' Moneyball, you'll recall a passage where Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane is planning his roster for the season.  He has a limited budget and needs to make his dollars count.  Beane has calculated the value of offense versus defense towards wins and concludes that offensive production costs less than top defensive talent.  He therefore decides to find value-priced hitters and take his chances with suspect fielders.

If you look at the NFC field seven weeks into the season -- or six if your team has received a bye -- you see the Billy Beane strategy in place.  I doubt it's by design, but the major contenders have thus far have found their wins by leaning on their offenses to outscore the opposition.  The Saints are the best example; their defense gives up over 21 points per game, but they're averaging almost 40 per contest, so they're a clean 6-0. 

Here's the NFC field:

Defensive points per game

Some of these teams are pretenders. Some are legitimate contenders.  All we can say at this stage of the season is that the conference does not have a dominant defense.  Only the Packers are below the 17.0 PPG average, which denotes an above average group.  None come close to the 14.0 ppg average, where the elite play. 

(It's worth noting that three teams, the Broncos, Colts and Patriots are all at or below 14.0 ppg.  The Broncos are giving up an impressive 11.0 thus far.)

If one or two defenses in this bunch finds themselves, their teams will have a clear advantage over their peers come playoff time. It's anybody's guess who that team or teams might be.