Don’t judge NFL teams by their records, since they all add up to .500


Jotting down a couple ideas recently about the NFL, I thought I could present them here today and over the next few weeks.

First up, you keep hearing about the NFL’s sagging ratings because of the lack of quality teams.

But don’t measure that based on win-loss records. Remember, wins and losses are “zero sum,” a way of saying that for every win there’s a loss, for every 15-1 franchise there has to be a team, or a collection of them, that has to be a complementary 14 games under .500.

Of course, the NHL has tried to circumvent that process with an “overtime loss” column in its standings. It looks like a tie, it being in the third column — the “2” in the Detroit Red Wings’ 11-10-2 record, for example — and that teams get a point for that loss just like a previous generation’s tie.

But it’s really a loss. Why? Because the other team involved in the game gets a full-on, unadulterated “win” in those same standings.

It’s why an examination of the NHL — I looked at the standings on Wednesday afternoon — shows 21 of the league’s 30 teams had “winning” records, including the Wings. Two more were at .500, leaving just seven franchises with “losing” records.

The reality? Six of those “winning” records, like Detroit’s, are really losing records, with another three being pulled down to .500.

The 11-10-2 Wings have won 11 games and lost 12 in that other teams have those 12 notches in their “win” belt.

Back to the NFL, though. We lament that there’s fewer 11-0, 10-1 and 9-2 at this point of the season than there used to be, forgetting that there were also more 0-11, 1-10 and 2-9 teams back then, too.

We never paid attention to the latter, unless they were our team.

Now onto this week’s picks:

Today, 8:30 p.m.

Dallas at Minnesota — The Vikings showed some life even in losing at Detroit on Turkey Day. But not enough to stop the Dallas steamroller. Cowboys, 31-19.

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Kansas City at Atlanta — Give the Chiefs credit for winning in Denver. Of course, that can mean a letdown following an emotional overtime win. Falcons, 26-20.

Miami at Baltimore — I’m not as up on the Dolphins as maybe I should be with their six-game win streak, nor as down on the Ravens after I saw who they beat to get out to their fast start. Ravens, 24-23.

San Francisco at Chicago — The two worst records in the NFC. Can’t I just count the Houston-Green Bay game twice and forget about this one? In case I can’t, Bears, 17-13.

Philadelphia at Cincinnati — Two teams trending down, but the Bengals are going there faster. Eagles, 27-19.

Houston at Green Bay — Ah, the Packers showed a pulse on Monday night, keeping their season alive. Then I heard how banged up the Eagles were. Sorry, Texans, 29-24.

Denver at Jacksonville — The Denver defense will enjoy some holiday mincemeat made of Jaguars. Broncos, 27-16.

Los Angeles at New England — Though New England’s looked a little creaky, this should be the tonic to perk them up nicely. Patriots, 30-18.

Detroit at New Orleans — I can guarantee you one thing — the Lions will be trailing at some point in the fourth quarter. This time, though, Drew Brees & Co. has enough firepower to match Detroit’s Matthew Stafford touchdown for touchdown in the final minutes. Saints, 31-27.

Sunday, 4-4:30 p.m.

Buffalo at Oakland — Oakland’s on too much of a roll. Raiders, 34-29.

Washington at Arizona — Don’t see the Cardinals keeping up. Redskins, 27-23.

N.Y. Giants at Pittsburgh — I’m suspicious of the Steelers, but the Giants haven’t shown a whole lot lately against weak opposition. Steelers, 20-16.

Tampa Bay at San Diego — Suddenly, Tampa is one of the hottest teams in the league. Buccaneers, 26-24.

Sunday, 8:30 p.m.

Carolina at Seattle — Two teams licking their wounds, but only Seattle still has something to play for. Seahawks, 23-13.

Monday, 8:30 p.m.

Indianapolis at N.Y. Jets — OK, this must be the game everyone’s complaining about with bad football. Even if it is competitive, will it be worth watching? Colts, 19-15.

Last week — 12-4, 75 percent. Season — 108-67-2, 62 percent.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is