In the NFL its all comes down to winning. With the perpetual parity in this league the difference between the hardest schedule and easiest schedule is a small margin. For the 2013 season it is a difference in win percentage between the hardest and easiest schedule is .1133. That equates to opponents winning an average of 1.8 more games in the hardest schedule than the easiest.
Meaning every team has wins on their schedule and every team will play potential Super Bowl hopefuls. Teams can't control who they play or when they play a team, just beat who you are supposed to and see where the cards fall. The Vikings beat who they were supposed to and managed to steal a few where they were the underdog. Leading to a successful season. I will show how well the vikings and other playoff teams performed in this aspect of the game. Did all of the playoff teams beat who they were supposed to? who had the hardest road to the playoffs as far as losses? I will use what i will call a strength of loss metric, basically giving you a win percentage of opponents a certain team lost to. Showing if teams lost to stiff competition, or if they lost to easier teams brining down a team's strength of loss.
I would like to explore the opponents that gave the vikings a loss and find out if they are quality losses. Then compare them to teams of the same tier of teams in the playoffs. The combined record of the teams that Minnesota lost to is 60-36 between, of course, 6 teams. Win percentage of .625 or avg. 10-6 record. The same mark as four of the current playoff teams. In fact four out of those six teams are in the playoffs and one more being the bears, also 10-6, would have been a playoff team if The Vikings had not achieved victory against the packers (proper noun but never deserves to be capitalized). What is the sixth and final loss? The only loss to a sub-.500 team. A game on thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who were 2-4 at the time. Beating us lead to a four game winning streak. We caught them at the worst possible time, they were getting hot and we were beginning a slump. I would contend that the bucs could be slightly better team than their record dictates. This was the first year for most of the key components on the team. The Head Coach, runningback, and primary receiver were all new to their respective positions on the squad.
I am choosing to compare the vikings strength of loss to some of the teams in the playoffs with a comparable win loss record and not the entire playofff competitions for two reasons. teams that had less losses (DEN or ATL)could have skewed results based on losing to just one bad team. Second, for the reason that these teams are just better, they are the elite.
The Colts Strength of loss was .525 (opponent W/L 42-38). This included a bad loss to the lowly Jaguars. Seattle was .430 (Opp. W/L: 34-44-2) combined the two ties as one loss to obtain that number. The upstart bengals were an above average .531 (51-45). The only team similar are the GB packers .658 (52-27-1). Which means that the Packers lost to teams with an average of just over 10 and a half wins (10.5), they didn't even actually lose to seattle, though. This would make me conclude that of the "non-elite" teams in the playoffs, we are the elite. Along with the packers, we had the toughest road to the post season. We couldn't have afforded a bad loss to Jacksonville or the Cardinals. But by golly we beat who everyone else beat and we had a shot. Every week is so very important.
With the way the NFL is laid out every game is monumentally important. The difference between a playoff team can be very small. Have one bad game against a team that is at the bottom of the NFL, that might be the difference between in or out of the playoffs. It could also mean that team has a weakness that can be exploited. Now wouldn't be a shame if some of these that are favored this weekend didn't come to play and lost to a team that is far beneath them. Going into the coming week(s) the vikings will be underdogs in each and every game, but some of these teams haven't beaten who they are supposed to. Falcons lost to every team in their division this year. Just a few observations, thanks for reading. SKOL!