KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Yeah, well, the Kansas City Chiefs haven’t played anybody, your buddy says. And he’s right.
The New York Giants (0-4) are a walking house fire, and now defensive end Justin Tuck is threatening to slug someone. The Dallas Cowboys (2-2) are the best of the bunch, and they just spent three hours playing patty-cake with Antonio Gates instead of actually, you know, covering him. The Philadelphia Eagles (1-3), darlings of Week 1, are starting to look more like a limbo exercise for Chip Kelly until he gets the all-clear to leap back into the relative safety of a college job again.
And Jacksonville (0-4), well … the Jaguars have resorted to giving out free beer at home games, which is the next-to-last act of a desperate franchise.
The last act, of course, is signing Tim Tebow.
Ah, but Mr. Sunshine isn’t finished, and Mr. Sunshine says he has tangible, objective proof: According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, the 4-0 Chiefs have the lowest Strength of Schedule (SoS) rating in the NFL, with a dance card of -7.8, which is the average Simple Rating System number (SRS) — a 0.0 club representing the midpoint of mediocrity — of the four opponents trampled by The Andy Gang thus far.
OK, Mr. Sunshine. Ya done?
First, about that strength of schedule thing. As with baseball statistics, the smaller the sample size, the wider the deviations. We’re only a quarter of the way through the party here, so keep that in mind. Plus, that figure is going to be skewed wildly by the fact that the Giants (-10.1 SRS) and Jags (-17.4) aren’t just awful but, in the case of the latter, epically and comically so. (Again, free beer. Think about that for a minute.)
Second, here’s Denver’s SoS rating after the Broncos’ head-turning, secondary-shredding 4-0 start: -3.0. To this point, Team Peyton has clubbed one team with a pulse (Baltimore, and the Ravens’ relative pulse-ness at the moment is up for debate after that Buffalo loss), the Giants (see above), the Raiders (see Jacksonville, only minus the free beer), and the Eagles (above, again).
Third, and here’s the fun part: New England is 4-0, with an SoS number of -2.1. Chicago and Detroit both tote 3-1 records with SoS marks of -4.8 and -5.4, respectively. Seattle? A 4-0 record and a -0.9 SoS. Tennessee, the Chiefs’ Sunday host, is 3-1 with an SoS of -2.1. On the flip side, the Giants have an SoS of 9.3 while Jacksonville’s is 7.1. You get the point.
It bears repeating — and yeah, because it’s so early, the deviations tend to be a bit more extreme — but one of the reasons the teams with good records have low schedule numbers and the teams with awful records have great schedule numbers is because the good teams have beaten the crappy teams like an old rug.
Or, to put it another way, is it the Chiefs’ fault that they clearly took their foot off the gas during the second half in North Florida and stomped the Jags by 26, while the Colts went out and whupped The Free Beer Boys by 34 last weekend?
Besides, if it’s meat you want, it’s meat you’re going to get, chief. The Chiefs’ next four opponents — the Titans (5.2), Raiders (-4.3), Texans (3.6) and Browns (1.3) — tote an average SRS of 1.45. Take out Oakland, and that number jumps to 3.37. And after Nov. 1, the menu features Denver (17.1) twice, San Diego (2.7) twice, and a visit from the Colts (10.7).
We’ve always known the easier stuff was early and the rougher stuff would be late. We just didn’t know that the easier stuff was going to be this stinking … um, easy.
Water seeks its own level, eventually. If you’re that hung up over SoS during the last week in September, Mr. Sunshine, we’ve got three more letters for you to chew on: LOL.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.