Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Standings still

They will tell you the United States has been "transitioning" to a knowledge-, information- or services-based economy. They may be right. But industry -- bloody, sooty, wondermous industry -- still dominates where it counts: in the NFL standings. You see, traditional football commentary views the league through lenses smudged by conference and division affiliation. Thus, it was declared that in 2004, the AFC soared and the NFC soured. You're free to think so, too. If you want to be ordinary. Fully aware that there's more than one way to skin a pig, Down and Distance throws out the 8-by-4 grid and breaks down the '04 season by way of the most pertinent groupings: Team nicknames.

Old Economy (Steelers, Packers)257.781
Inanimate Objects (Jets)106.625
Birds (Eagles, Falcons, Seahawks, Ravens, Cardinals)4832.600
Historical Figures/Collective (Patriots, Vikings, Buccaneers)2721.563
Non-Specific Fearsome Things (Chargers, Raiders)1715.531
Mammals/Non-Cat (Colts, Broncos, Rams, Bears, Dolphins)3941.488
Cats (Jaguars, Bengals, Panthers, Lions)3034.469
Historical Figures/Individual (Bills, Browns)1319.406
Mythical/Mystical Figures (Saints, Giants, Titans)1929.396
Old West (Texans, Chiefs, Cowboys, Redskins, 49ers)2852.350

Analysis: Regardless of what you might have read in Newsweek, the Old Economy is stronger than ever, as evidenced by the utter dominance of the industrial sector in this '04 regular season. On the other hand, the Old West has completed its long, shameful tumble from the toast of the league (11 titles 1981-95) to its laughingstock. Though only three years old, the Texans are the best of this sorry breed. Meanwhile, injuries in Carolina and erratic play in Jacksonville and Detroit hurt what had been viewed at a promising season for the Cats, as did Cincinnati's frankly unavoidable decision to put the franchise in the hands of its green franchise quarterback. Finally, the Birds might have flown away with the league this year, if not for some curious decisions in Arizona and frustrating up-and-down years from Seattle and Baltimore.

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