(Note from the chief angry troll: We'll dissect the AFC and NFC title games like an 8th-grade biology lab frog later today. In the meantime, sit back, enjoy the parade and count your winnings.)
The quality wins quotient gets paraded out here more often than the Gaelic Column of Pipes & Drums.
Why not? The quality wins quotient cuts a nifty jib, looks good in a kilt and can blow its own horn with the best of them.
The quality wins quotient is now an eye-popping 9-1 in the playoffs, though it did suffer its first setback with Atlanta's 27-10 loss to Philly in the NFC title game.
The quality wins quotient was hardly surprised in that game, however. In fact, the match-up of Atlanta and Philly featured the narrowest quality wins differential of any playoff pairing this year.
Both teams entered the game with 2-1 records against quality opponents*. Atlanta got the nod from the quality wins quotient by virtue of a slightly better point differential. The Falcons outscored their three quality opponents by an average of 4.0 points per game. Philly had outscored its quality opponents by 3.7 points per game. But that most narrow of advantages for Atlanta was not enough to overcome a desperate 14-3 Philly squad playing at home and in its fourth consecutive conference title game.
While the NFC title contest featured the narrowest quality wins margin of any playoff pairing this year, Super Bowl XXXIX features one of the greatest disparities.
• New England is 9-1 against quality opponents (and 19-1 over the past two seasons)
• Philly is 3-1 against quality opponents
• New England has outscored its 10 quality opponents by an average of 11.0 PPG (25.8-14.8)
• Philly has outscored its four quality opponents by an average of 7.0 PPG (23.0-16.0)
• New England's quality opponents posted a combined record of 116-56 (.674)
• Philly's quality opponents posted a combined record of 47-22 (.681).
A number of readers disagree with our definition of quality wins. So, too, do some in the media. Bob Neumeier of sports radio WEEI 850 in Boston, for example, believes that more credence should be placed on scoring differential.
After all, Seattle qualifies as a quality team by our definition with its 9-8 record this year. But Seattle surrendered more points (400) than it scored (390). Using the point-differential methodology, Seattle would not qualify as a quality team.
It's certainly a legitimate argument. During the Patriots "5th Quarter" postgame show Sunday night, Neumeier posted the results of his quality wins methodology and showed very positive results. But we'll stand by our deceptively simple formula. It's 9-1 straight up in the playoffs; 8-2 against the spread (Atlanta failed to cover against Philly and Pittsburgh failed to cover against the Jets); and accurately called for a historic three straight victories by road underdogs on wildcard weekend.
Bottom line: the quality wins quotient has been deadly accurate in the postseason and calls for a sizable victory by New England in Super Bowl XXXIX. So kick back and enjoy the show. There will be a bigger parade in two weeks.
* The Cold, Hard Football Facts define "quality wins" as any victory against a team with a winning record; a "quality team" or "quality opponent" simply refers to any team with a winning record.