The NFL returns Thursday night as the defending champion Seattle Seahawks play the Green Bay Packers, so excuse me if I get chills just thinking about it.
Everyone has one inanimate thing he or she cares for too much, and that’s what the NFL is for me. I started playing fantasy football when I was five, and I can’t keep track of the amount of times I’ve watched “Any Given Sunday.” (I had a perplexing childhood.)
Some of the appeals of the NFL are obvious: It’s the highest level of play for the country’s most popular sport, it features an incredible trophy and I spent the majority of my life in Texas. The biggest reason, however, is something I’ve learned after watching years of the NFL.
The only thing you can count on every year is parity itself.
If you aren’t following, look at the 12 teams that made the playoffs in 2013 and compare them to the teams who made it in 2012. Or take a look at the teams that made it in 2012 and compare them with those from 2011. I can keep going because it’s all the same — major turnover every season.
In the past five seasons, at least half of the NFC playoff teams did not make it the season before. In addition, the NFL has not seen a team win consecutive Super Bowls since 2004.
The biggest difference between the NFL and other leagues is scheduling, made annually to favor teams at the bottom. Each team faces teams in its division and teams from two other divisions, but then play two more teams based on where it placed the season before.
For example, the Saints finished in 2nd place in the NFC South last season. This means beyond the teams they’re already scheduled to play, they will also face two teams that finished in 2nd place in their division.
With this method, a team that finished last in its division last season can win at home and beat the other two 4th place teams and potentially make the playoffs. The complete opposite result can happen with teams that won their division the year before.
Another factor is the hard salary cap put in place, preventing teams from spending money with reckless abandon to make an all-star team. Unless you get lucky in the draft or sign a star-in-the-making for cheap, you aren’t going to get a true contender.
Once the NFL enters the postseason, it only develops into a bigger crapshoot. NFL playoff rounds are one game rather than a series, leading to a better chance of an upset. Three of the last five Super Bowl winners lost six games or more, something that only happens with the proper rules put in place.
The interesting thing about this season is the chance of someone finally breaking the parity. The Seahawks have a great shot at becoming the first team in 10 years to win a second straight Super Bowl, and they’re my pick to win it all this season.
The Seahawks are unlike most defending champs, coming off a 13-win season with almost no turnover and a good quarterback who’s only 25. Throw in one of the best home-field advantages in the league, and the chance for a run is there.
Of course, I’m probably dead wrong. That’s the thing about the NFL — it can makes its biggest fans look like morons.
Tommy Romanach is a 22-year-old mass communication senior from Dallas, Texas. You can reach him on Twitter @troman_28.