Best teams dominated, worst teams stunk
Vail, CO Colorado
It’s time to blitz the notion of NFL parity. Look at all the long streaks, good and bad, that teams have put together this season, from the Patriots in the penthouse to the Dolphins in the basement.
If anything, there’s been a distinct separation between the impressive and the depressing, with the winning and losing strings placing an exclamation point on that disparity. Any given Sunday? How about any given month where a team doesn’t win. Or doesn’t lose.
There have been 28 streaks of at least four victories or four losses in 2007 ” 15 winning, 13 losing.
While New England’s 15-0 record dwarfs the other positive streaks, there still is much to consider on the bright side. Consider that Dallas has had victory strings of five and seven games. Indianapolis won its first seven and now has won six in a row. Green Bay has had four-game and six-game winning streaks.
San Diego has gotten hot at the right time, surging toward the postseason with five successive victories. The latest victory was Monday night when the Chargers beat Denver 23-3.
“I think they’ve steadily improved as this year’s gone on,” Broncos safety John Lynch. “You want to be peaking at the right time of the year, and I think this is a team that’s kind of on the upward ascension right now. They’ve got to be feeling good about themselves.”
But for every team feeling the good vibes, there are those who can’t get anything right. Heading into the final weekend of the schedule, three clubs are on at least six-game slides: Baltimore (9), Kansas City (8) and Atlanta (6). The Lions ended their six-game skid when they beat the sputtering Chiefs last Sunday.
“We’ve had some opportunities,” Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. “We’ve had them every week, but we just can’t get it done.”
The one team that has gotten it done every week, of course, is New England. But even its record pace ” the Patriots have won 18 regular-season games in a row, tying the league mark they set in 2003-04 ” has been somewhat joyless, stripped by an obsessively low-key, charmless approach.
That approach also has the Patriots on the verge of the first 16-0 record in a season and, perhaps, the first perfect championship season since the 1972 Dolphins went 17-0.
Not that the Dolphins haven’t been in on the streaking. After threatening to become the only 0-16 team in an NFL season, they ended their 13-game dive by beating the Ravens. Their celebrations were worthy of, well, what the Patriots might perform if they win every game right through the Super Bowl.
Maybe not, considering the dour atmosphere in Foxborough.
But in Miami, ending that momentous streak was something of a validation.
“It’s just a culmination of a lot of what’s built up in these guys,” coach Cam Cameron said. “There has been a lot of hard work. Nobody had given up. Nobody had thrown in the towel. And that’s obviously why we do what we do, to play well, to play as well as we can play and ultimately win.”
And just as often lose in bunches this season.
Of the 18 teams with losing records this year, 11 have had at least a four-game slide. The Saints have taken things to an extreme by having both four-game winning and losing streaks. And the Bills (7-8) had a four-game winning string in midseason.
All this streaking could continue right into next season. Not that the Patriots, Colts or Chargers would mind. But fans of the Ravens, Chiefs and Falcons sure hope not.
“I can’t do this no more,” Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall recently said. “I won’t do this no more, let me say that. I will not be a part of a losing team another year, no matter what I got to do, no matter who hates me, whatever. I won’t be a part of a losing team again, not if I can help it. “