- KC Joyner, NFL Insider
One of the methods Bill James used to measure the greatness of historical baseball teams was to review how well those teams would do in different types of leagues.
For instance, in his new "Historical Baseball Abstract," James noted that the 1961 New York Yankees, a team that is often listed as one of the best baseball teams of all time, were probably not one of the top 50 teams in baseball history in large part because their strengths were one-dimensional.
That club could hit home runs and had one of the best pitchers in the major leagues in Whitey Ford, but had no bench, no speed and a thin pitching staff. If that team were put in a time machine and forced to play in an era or ballpark that required more defense or speed to win (say the 1970s), they would be hard-pressed to succeed.
By contrast, a team like the 1970s Cincinnati Reds were built in such a way that they could play any brand of baseball needed to win. They could hit with power, get on base frequently and had plenty of speed to go along with a strong defense and a ridiculously deep pitching staff. Their eclectic skills meant they could move to any era or stadium and fare well.
Having a variety of different talents also looks to be a must-have trait for any NFC playoff contender this season, as the current postseason pool possibilities for that conference is comprised of teams with a wide range of strengths and weaknesses. This could give a significant edge to the NFC team that has the widest assortment of talent -- the Dallas Cowboys.
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1dEric D. Williams