Over the last decade or so, the National Football League has been striving to create a balanced league in which the old saw “on any given Sunday” could literally be taken as truth. A league where several playoff spots would be up for grabs into the 14th, 15th and 16th weeks of the season. A league with fewer haves and have-nots and more sharing of talent and potential.
Well, this year, that plan has turned to, you should pardon the expression, poop.
At this writing, we have completed 10 of the 16 weeks in the season, just past the halfway point. We still have 37.5% of the season ahead of us.
But in six of the eight divisions, one team is essentially running away with the title with records well above average, with seven to 10 wins under their belts. In all cases, they have at least a two-game lead. That’s not yet a title, but it’s certainly imbalance.
Equally revealing, almost half (15 of 32) of the teams have rung up fewer than five wins with six games remaining. Most of those teams are looking at losing seasons and only a handful have any shot at a playoff spot. (Notable exceptions are the AFC South and East where the division leaders are playing .500 ball and their closest competitors are one or two games off that tepid pace.)
Unfortunately, my San Francisco 49ers are not only dead last in the NFC West at 3-7, they have the worst PA (Points Against) rating in the entire league, being outscored by their rivals, 252-139. That’s a 113-point deficit. The only other team to come close is my once-favorite team, the Detroit Lions, with an 89-point deficit.
It’s ugly out there, folks, and it ain’t gettin’ any prettier.