This blog started out as a collection of scripts for an online radio show of the same name. It riffed off of my 2004 book, Musings from the Christian Left, now republished as The Conscience of a Catholic Radical.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Big Game Cometh

It is now that time again - my annual pre-Big Game rankings of what's at stake as far as all-time rankings. As people who follow this blog know, I count both Big Game victories, conference championships and league champships since an actual championship game has been played. Prior to the first such game, the league championship was based on win-loss records, essentially a division championship. To include those championships, one would also have to count all division championships in subsequent years as a "win." Others can do that, however unless someone pays me to do so and gives me a really good data file, I am not going to that kind of effort, especially since my current database includes year by year rankings so that you can follow the history of who was top ranked - although after a few decades this gets mind numbing to even look at.

That being said, I have two sets of rankings. The first stresses the number of wins in championship games, with ties broken by winning percentage. The second stresses the number of appearances, with ties broken by the number that resulted in wins. The reason I do separate stats is because the League ranks its all time greatest list by win-loss percentage in the last game, ignoring the fact that what was the league is now the conference - with conference championships still meriting a trophy. By their logic, an expansion team becomes the greatest team ever by winning the Big Game once. That is insane, but given that the alignment of divisions is geographically challenged, it is not unexpected.

Here is the first set of ranks. Click on the image to expand the table.

Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Dallas are safe in the one, two and three spots. New York is in number four and New England is at number five after last Sunday's game. This is a change, as these wins have moved them both past Washingon and San Francisco, who were tied for fourth at ten wins and seven losses. By losing yesterday, San Francisco moves down to seventh, while Washington moves to sixth by not losing. Baltimore dropped down from 21 to 22 by losing if you accept the fiction that they left their previous record in Cleveland with their name, even though there is continuity of personnel and ownership that indicates otherwise. If they have to leave their record, then they need to be given the prior record of a certain team in Indiana who used to be located there.

The winner of the Big Game will move to fourth greatest overall. New York currently has eleven wins and twelve losses in championship games, while New England has ten wins and five losses. A New England will give them eleven wins with fewer losses, moving them to the number four slot. A New York win gives them twelve wins - one behind Dallas who has thirteen.

For those of you who think being in the championship is more important than winning it, we have the second ranking:

New York, by showing up, will move to number two overall, with 24 total appearances. The conference championship was their 23rd appearance, tying with Pittsburgh but with fewer victories, leaving them in third position for the next 13 days until they walk into the stadium (moving Pittsburgh to third, even if New York loses. Dallas will still have more wins, even though they also have 24 appearances - so New York must go to one more champship game to get to the top spot (if they play Dallas, they have to win to overtake them).

New England was already in the tenth spot, with 14 appearances and nine wins, which is one more win than Denver and Indianapolis who are tied at eleven. Had Denver won last week, they would have passed New England. On game day, by showing up, New England moves up to ninth with 16 appearances, which is the same as Chicago, but Chicago has only nine wins, so New England already holds the tie breaker.

I prefer counting wins as more important than appearances, with winning percentage breaking the tie. This year shows why, since if appearances are more important, the result of this year's Big Game will mean nothing in the overall rankings, which is a bit anti-climactic.