Parity. Noun. A humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing.
Oh wait… that’s Parody.
Parity. Noun. Equality, as in amount, status, or character.
A lot of talk about the NFL has focused on the parity of the league, and with the losers winning and winners losing this week, I figured the Power Rank should chime in with its own opinion on the matter.
While complete parity according to dictionary.com’s definition above is impossible, especially in the eyes of the Power Rank, the ratings are moving in one direction: towards the middle.
In week six I posted a graph that showed the distribution of NFL teams by their rating rounded to the nearest integer (graph is also displayed below). At the time I was arguing that the league had parity, but within tiers. There was an elite tier with highly rated teams jockeying for the top, a middle tier that contained more than half the league, and a bottom tier that could only be called a football pit of despair.
My argument was that teams would move within those tiers, but that breaking out would be difficult. Well, it’s only been three weeks and my predictions still hold but are looking shaky.
With so many highly ranked teams taking it on the chin in the last couple weeks and no teams left with less than 2 losses, the Power Rank has compressed significantly. The only exception to this is the hopeless outliers from Carolina.
In spite of this obvious compression, something else is still going on. I’ve given teams the same color in the week nine graph that they had in the week six graph, and the visible result in that little movement has occurred from the previous tier system. The top teams are still at the top, and the bottom teams are still on the bottom.
There are a couple of notable exceptions to this. Green Bay has moved into the top tier by shutting out the Jets and absolutely drubbing the Cowboys. To be fair though, the Packers were already on the higher side of that middle tier. On the other end Seattle has fallen from the middle to join the lower ranks, but has only dropped two ranks from #25 to #27.
Two other teams have made more significant moves. Oakland stands out like a sore thumb, an island of red in a sea of yellow. They have moved to #17 in week nine from #29 in week six.
The Raiders’ rise is only matched by the fall of the Cowboys, which has been so horrific and complete that it seems like it could have been a Greek tragedy. They were only at #20 in week six, but have since fallen to #31 in week nine.
Other than those teams, the rest of the league has stayed in their respective groups. So yes, the playing field is becoming more even and the gap between the good and the bad has narrowed… the ugly Panthers not withstanding. What this comparison does show is that while the lines between the tiers are blurring they still do exist.
Is that parity? I say no. It’s true that there are no teams dominating the league, but some are very clearly better (or worse) than others by a signifcant margin.