Forget the Rankings

Posted on September 29, 2010

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Now before you reject this post based on the title because you are devoted to data, hear me out for a second. I am probably not going to say what you think.

When I was playing football, we had one goal every season: win a championship. Whether we were actually good enough to do that or not is another story. However, the goal never changed; win enough games to be the last one standing at the end of the season. Now that I am out of the sports world and I move between the worlds of corporate and non-profit organizations, for the most part the goal is the same there, too. Win.

Last season, the New Orleans Saints captured the hearts of the nation with an emotional run all the way to a championship, defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. What no one remembers (or the casual fan even cares about) is how low the Saints defense ranked out of 32 teams. Their defense was the 8th worst (25 of 32) in the entire NFL. According to the rankings, that caliber of defense should not have been associated with a Super Bowl team, let alone stopping arguably the games most prolific offensive player, Peyton Manning.

What you need to know is this. The 8th worst defense led their team to a Super Bowl by doing one thing well: taking the ball from the other team and giving it to their top ranked offense. That was their winning edge. They were not really good at anything else.

At the end of the day, the question is, do you have a winning edge. If you can identify that, give it as much opportunity as possible and let other people worry about the rankings.

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