NFL Week 12, Infuriating Parity

The NFL tag line Any Given Sunday has gotten its share of overuse, but in a week where an 0-10 Oakland Raiders team got its first win over the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs (7-4), it’s hard to argue with the notion that the NFL has quality from top to bottom.

 

At the end of Week 12, the only certainties seem to be death, taxes and a convincing New England Patriots win. The Pats (9-2) have rattled off seven straight and have distinguished themselves as the only truly elite team in the league. Vegas odds reflect this as NE currently sits at around 3/1 to win the Super Bowl, according to sports books monitored by Oddschecker.

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While the Denver Broncos (8-3) pulled out a win against the Miami Dolphins (6-5) in Week 12, something is amiss in the Mile High City with the team dropping two of four. Against Miami, Denver needed a fourth-quarter rally to pull out a 39-36 victory over the visiting Dolphins. A seven-point home spread is something the 2013 Broncos could cover with Peyton Manning on one leg. Not so in 2014.

 

Predictability in a sport is valued by those wagering on it, but when trends start to evaporate, even the most casual gambler starts to get infuriated. Teams like the Seattle Seahawks (7-4) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) are impossible to get a read on with their streakiness.

 

The Steelers have lost at home to two of the worst teams in the NFL, the New York Jets (2-8) and Tampa Bay (2-9). They also blew out two of the better teams in the AFC: Indianapolis (7-4) by a score 51-34 and division rival Baltimore (6-4) to a tune of 43-23. When betting on the Steelers this season, a flip of a coin is as reliable as studying historical and situational data.

 

While repeating in the NFL happens infrequently, the Seahawks were thought to be the favorites in the NFC this season, but they’ve taken losses to mediocre teams like San Diego (7-4) and St. Louis (4-7). In Week 12, they dominated the team with the NFC’s best record (Arizona, 9-2) but struggled the week before to Kansas City who just lost to the previously winless Raiders.

 

With five games left for most teams, only three teams have been eliminated from playoff contention: Tennessee (2-9), Jacksonville (1-10) and Oakland. The Patriots could run the table but face a tough road test in Week 13 against Green Bay (8-3), arguably the league’s second-hottest team.

 

 

 

New England has peaked too early in the past, most notably in their perfect 2007 regular season. The New York Giants were just 10-6 that season but pulled off the improbable Super Bowl win.

 

The message here: save your best football for January and February and in the meantime, gamblers shouldn’t take any spread for granted on any given Sunday.

 

-M.F. DiBella

Featured image courtesy of ESPN

Circle of Parity image courtesy of Gawker Media.

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