Why is the race for Super Bowl LVI more open than ever?

In total, 25 games have been decided on the last play, there are surprises everywhere and the NFL seems to have no real Goliath.

KANSAS CITY – The Minnesota Vikings are similar to many teams in the NFL in 2021, in the sense that his match days have been stressful. Only they have taken it to the extreme.

The Vikings 30-17 were imposed on the Seattle Seahawks on your Week 3 engagement; however, their 10 remaining matches have been decided by a touchdown, many of them produced in the last play, which defined the results.

“This is the NFL, and that’s the way things are more or less, “said the head coach of the Vikings Mike Zimmer, shrugging. “We had several games that were reduced to a single play.”

The remaining 31 teams in the NFL have not experienced such extreme situations as the Vikings, but they can feel identified with them. Consider the following:

  • In total, 25 games have been decided on the last play this season, the highest record after 12 weeks of play since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

  • In 35 games, the winning score came in the last minute of regular time or overtime, fourth-highest after 12 weeks since 1970.

While the Vikings They are the nerve center of close matches and decided by a play, they are not alone.

The fight for the championship Super bowl this year it seems to be more open than ever. After 12 weeks into the season, nine teams maintain their odds of winning the Super bowl at 13-1 or less, equaling the most teams with that many odds in the past seven years.

“The league has always had the intention of having very even teams,” said the defensive coordinator of the Arizona cardinals, Vance Joseph. The Cardinals they beat 34-33 Vikings in Week 2, when Minnesota he missed a 37-yard field goal attempt on the final play. “They don’t want the teams to get away with this. They want competition; they want the teams to fight to the end … Seeing that the league is so even, it doesn’t surprise me. They want it that way. That’s how it should be. And this makes everyone try hard and it makes it fun. “

In the first two weeks of the season, Kansas city chiefs they experienced the full spectrum of emotions that can be generated in close encounters.

The Chiefs rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to prevail 33-29 over the Cleveland browns, although they had to intercept a pass to end a series of the Browns in the final moments of the meeting. The following week, they had an 11-point advantage over the Baltimore Ravens in the last period and lost 36-35, but only after the Chiefs lost the ball in the final moments of the match, ending with a series that tentatively represented the victory over the Ravens.

The head coach of the Chiefs, Andy Reid, said that no advantage is certain; however, he indicated that he has felt it more than ever this year.

“The league has been trying like crazy to achieve parity for I don’t know how many years,” Reid said. “I only analyze how this season has been for different teams and it seems to me that there is a tremendous parity within the league. Every weekend, every place, every city has a chance to win a game in the league. NFL.

“That’s great. We are in this for the competition, and there is a lot of competition.”

Unexpected results on all fronts

For its part, NFL he has had an unusual number of uneven games this season. 35 games have been decided by a minimum of 22 points, the second-highest total after 12 weeks of play since 1970.

Even the best teams in the league are not immune from being beaten up. The Cardinals have the best record in the league at 9-2, closely followed by the Green bay packers (9-3), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3) and Ravens (8-3). The Cardinals they lost a match by 24 points. Green bay fell by 35. Baltimore lost by 34. Buccaneers They have two double-digit margin losses to their credit.

The strange and unexpected results can be seen everywhere, putting the leaderboard upside down each week. Recently, Browns suffered from an oscillation of 63 points from one week to the next, going from beating by 25 points the Cincinnati Bengals to lose at the hands of New England Patriots by 38.

In a week, Dallas cowboys had a 30-point disadvantage against the Denver Broncos; the next, they were imposed by 40 points to the Atlanta Falcons.

Perhaps there is no better example of how unpredictable this season has been than the Bengals. Five of their matches have been decided by exactly three points (2-3 in those matches). Their remaining six meetings have been decided by a minimum of 14 points (5-1), including all of their four divisional meetings (3-1).

More than ever, it seems that taking a result for any of the 32 teams for granted is a problem.

“It is [una liga que se define] week to week, and you have to go out to play every week, “said the Los Angeles wide receiver. Buffalo bills, Stefon Diggs.

Diggs and the Bills, who were 5-2 at the time, fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) in Week 9, in one of the biggest upsets of the season. Neither team scored via touchdown, in the 9-6 victory of the Jaguars, in which Jacksonville scored one more field goal than the Bills.

“You can’t get comfortable,” said the Los Angeles tackle after the game. Bills, Dion Dawkins. “You have to stay hungry and everyone is going to play their best football against us. Currently, we are in a position where everyone will play their best football every week. Everyone is coming for the Buffalo bills“.

“You have to go through the ups and downs of life in football and the wins and losses to honestly feel and understand it. It’s a world where you must kill or you will be killed, and now that we know that everyone will do their best against us, We know that we must do our best at all times. We can never take our foot off that accelerator. “

There is no Goliath in the NFL

There is greater evidence that competition within the league is delivering what the league is looking for. NFL. The least favorites among punters have a combined record of 71-106-1 this season. That .402 win percentage among teams assumed to be defeated would be the highest in a season since 2006.

There are no longer those Goliath teams that rivals want to avoid facing each other in the playoffs for as long as possible. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, defending champions of the Super bowl, They have come back after adding two consecutive defeats; however, these setbacks did not occur against top-tier competitors. The first occurred against New Orleans Saints and his backup quarterback Trevor Siemian and the second, against the modest Washington.

The Chiefs, who won 26 games in the last two regular seasons and represented the AFC in both Super bowls previous, have returned to earth. Currently, Kansas city He has a 7-4 record and one of his losses (against the Tennessee Titans in Week 7 by a score of 27-3) was produced by the largest deficit on record since Patrick Mahomes became his quarterback in 2018.

In fact, 12 of the 16 teams that make up the AFC have a minimum record of .500, including all teams in the North and West divisions. That represents the most minimum .500 teams in a single conference through Week 12 in the history of the league. NFL. Across the league, 21 teams are at least one game away from .500; So the fight for a divisional championship or a wild-card spot could be the craziest in history.

The Vikings They are one of those 21 teams. They have an overall record 5-6 and add 4-6 in those games defined by a single touchdown.

The Vikings They are among the many teams wondering what their record might be for having performed better on all those game-defining plays.

“We were very close,” said the center of the Vikings, Garrett Bradbury, after that missed field goal that cost the victory to the Vikings Over the Cardinals in Week 2. “We will do the things we need to do to correct. So when we get back in that position [porque lo estaremos], we will finish the game and we will be victorious. “

Information from ESPN Stats & Information, Courtney Cronin, Alaina Getzenberg and Josh Weinfuss was used in the writing of this note.


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Why is the race for Super Bowl LVI more open than ever?