By Ray Hamill
This Sunday night sees a repeat of last season’s Super Bowl, when the Atlanta Falcons travel to the New England Patriots.
Whether or not we witness a repeat of the excitement we saw in Houston last February, it’s an intriguing showdown for many reasons, with both clubs struggling to find the form that led each to respective conference titles.
The Patriots have the worst defense in the NFL right now, and we’re far enough into the season where it’s become a trend and a serious concern, although Tom Brady has done his best to hide those concerns and has his team atop the AFC East at 4-2.
Conversely, the Falcons have struggled on offense, and have stumbled their way to a 3-2 record, falling to a poor Miami Dolphins team last week, giving up a 17-point lead in the process.
The good news for both is that there is still a long way to go in the season, and both have the time to address their shortcomings.
The other good news is there are no great teams in the NFL this season, and that makes this year’s Super Bowl arguably the most open ever.
The Chiefs are good, and so too are the Eagles, but each is far from great and certainly beatable.
The only other teams with a clear division lead are the Patriots (with their aforementioned defensive problems), the inconsistent Steelers, and the Panthers and Rams, neither of whom is dominating.
Parity is alive and well in the NFL.
Of the 32 teams, in fact, only 15 have currently either won or lost two straight or more. That’s parity.
And 27 teams are between 2-4 and 4-2. That’s parity.
Of the eight divisions, four are separated top-to-bottom by two wins or less, and if take away the pathetic and winless Niners and Browns, that number grows to six out of eight. That’s parity.
It also breeds unpredictability and open competition.
And that’s good news for more and more teams, because almost halfway through the season very few of them will consider themselves out of it.