the balboni/manning theory of sports teams
In baseball lore, the “Curse of the Balboni” means that teams with sluggers (a player who hits 36 home runs per year or more) don’t win the world series. It is also a short hand for the observation that slugging isn’t always correlated with play off wins. I was reminded of this during this year’s Super Bowl when the Denver Broncos lost the Super Bowl after posting one of the most impressive performances in the history of the NFL. Not only did they lose, they lost very, very badly.
What’s my hypothesis? My theory is that teams with extremely successful offenses tend to overlook the defense. Think of it is an “sense making” issue in athletic organizations. Defenses are often less glamorous and harder to measure in many cases (e.g., good fielding in baseball or blocking in football). So they get less attention than offense. So having top notch offense let’s you off the hook defense wise. It distracts you from problems in the organization. In a league or division with unbalanced teams, it can be easy to wrack up wins. But when you meet more balanced teams in the play offs, or even teams who are a little better at exploiting defense mistakes, your success is limited.