Inter-Conference Play Report
First, a quick refresher.
Inter-Conference Play has a .328 correlation with Super Bowl victories. That’s not a lot, but it certainly isn’t nothing either. The NFC has won 21 Super Bowls from 1967 to 2007 and eleven times they led or tied in ICPD (Inter-Conference Play Dominance) in the same year. During their hot stretch from 1981 to 1996 the NFC won 15 Super Bowls and led or tied in ICPD 10 times.
Here is a chart showing the trends headed into the 2008 season:
For the first time since 2001, the NFC tied the AFC in ICPD. Then they promptly won the Super Bowl. As evidenced in the chart, the AFC is well past it’s peak years of dominance and within the next few seasons we will see a complete reversal as the NFC begins to dominate the AFC in regular- and post-season play.
If you picked up a copy of the 2008 NFL PREDICTOPOTAMUS you would know that Bull VS Bear predicted yet another strong showing by the NFC in 2008. Thus far, the NFC is 10-8 in inter-conference games. Check out the breakdown by division:
Last year it was the NFC East and North that had the most impact. This year it appears that the NFC East and South will be the driving forces behind the resurgence.
Now, let’s break ICPD down on a team basis. Here are the top six teams from each conference:
The AFC’s best six teams have a 6-2 record against NFC opponents. The NFC’s best six have an 8-1 record against AFC opponents. What we have here is a great example of the separation that currently exists between each conference’s top teams and the rest of the league. “Other” AFC teams are a measly 2-8 against NFC foes. “Other” NFC teams are a humble 2-7 against AFC opponents. My point in all of this is to show you that there are 12 teams standing head and shoulders above the rest of the league right now, and the big difference between the league leaders and the cellar dwellers so far has been inter-conference play.
My expectation is this: the AFC’s top teams will continue to do well in inter-conference play, but teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore will suffer due to their tough schedule against the NFC East. The top NFC teams will drive the rest of their conference to a 2-4 game lead in ICPD by the time the season ends, and like I said previously, we’ll see better Super Bowl play coming out of the NFC in the next few years. This year, I still think the AFC will win, but like last year I could certainly be wrong.