Probably the most cliché term available when it comes to talking about the NFL. It has been tossed around for years as a sort of explanation for the mysterious and surprising upsets that take
place each week. Is that still the only meaning behind that phrase, or does it now represent something else?
This season I believe we are headed towards possibly the most competitive and entertaining regular season in NFL history. This year we will see a higher level of parity throughout the league
than ever before. There are many different ways that you can interpret levels of parity in a sports league. Some people will tell you that it is the difference between the best team in each league
and the worst team in each league. Others including myself believe that the level of parity should be decided not by the difference between the top team and the bottom team of the league, but
instead by the number of teams that are legitimately in competition for the playoffs every year.
When looking at the playoff results from the past three years you will see that 22 different teams have made the playoffs. Even more impressive is the fact that only the Colts and Patriots won
their division in back to back years. The many different teams winning their divisions and making the playoffs is evidence to the high level of parity currently in the NFL. However the large
diversity of teams that have made the playoffs the past three years doesn’t take into account teams like the Minnesota Vikings. In 2009 they were arguably the best team in the NFL, but then
the next two years their record didn’t come close to approaching .500. So in order to truly understand the level of parity in the NFL we must take a look at the talent level of each individual
Looking at the results from week one and at the rosters all across the league I believe we are about enter a whole new level of parity in the NFL. Taking into account recent seasons, each
teams personnel moves, and their performance in week one there are 22 teams that at this early point in the season have legitimate playoff aspirations. That means that there are as many teams
in the race for the playoffs this year as have made the playoffs in the past three years total. Even more impressive than this is the fact that on the outside of this 22 team list there are 5 teams,
the Bills, Cardinals, Seahawks, Titans and Jaguars that with improvement still have a chance to be a playoff contender this year. So as it currently stands close to 70% of the NFL will be
competing for the playoffs and if those 5 times on the outside are included that number raises to a staggering 84% of the league.
However the number of teams that are capable of making the playoffs to me is not the only thing contributing to the high level of parity. There are so many incredibly talented young players
capable of turning a loser into a winner currently play on teams not expected to compete for the playoffs. For instance before last week I wouldn’t have considered the Redskins to be one of
the 22 teams vying for a playoff spot by season’s end. But following Robert Griffin III’s incredible victory on the road against the Saint’s, a team that many expected to be Super Bowl
Contenders, who almost never lose at home, earned the Redskins a spot on the list. He proved that with him at quarterback there is no telling how good that team can be.
Even though the Redskins weren’t originally expected to be a playoff contender, they were considered to have a very good defense going into the season. On the other hand #1 overall pick
Andrew Luck is not so lucky. He is expected to struggle this season without the help of a strong supporting cast. However there is always the possibility that any week he could put it all
together and begin beating some of the best teams in the NFL without the help of a good defense, much like Peyton Manning his predecessor with the Colts did. Because of the young players
like Luck stuck on losing teams, each game every week is a must watch. This year more so than any ever, truly anything can happen.
On any given Sunday