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NFL teams scored an average of 21.5 points per game in 2009's regular season, while World Cup teams scored an average of 1.05 goals per game in 2010's three-game miniseason. So, one World Cup goal is worth 21.5 / 1.05 or 20.5 NFL points.

So, let's call it one goal equals twenty points.

Thus, a 1-0 World Cup game is like a 20-0 NFL game, while a 2-1 World Cup game is like a 40-20 NFL game. That traditionally most desirable score, 3-2, is like a 60-40 NFL game — a bit of a farce, relatively speaking. Portugal's 7-0 defeat of North Korea was like a 140-0 football game.

Psychologically, however, 1-0 is quite different from 20-0.

If your team is losing 20-0 in football, well, they might come back and score three touchdowns while blanking their opponents the rest of the way and win 21-20. American football is designed so that comebacks are possible by the offense taking on greater risks of interceptions, running out of downs, and sacks (with heightened chances of fumbles). But, you've got to admit, if your team is down 20-0, so far, at least, your guys are getting killed. You've given up two touchdowns and two field goals and you haven't scored at all.

In contrast, if you are down 1-0 in a World Cup game, that just shows ... well, whatever you want it to show:

  • that just one play can equalize the score
  • that you actually deserve to be winning if only you weren't the victim of malevolent fate
  • that the opposing players are all devious, manipulative wogs
  • that your players are overpaid yobs
  • that your coach should be fired
  • that the ref cheated you and should be lynched from the crossbar (in 1978, my dad and I paid about 50 cents each for "seats" in Rio's Maracana stadium, where 199,854 saw Brazil lose to Uruguay in the key game of the 1950 World Cup, but the seats turned out to be Standing Room Only at field level next to the deep moat with an overhanging lip guarding the ref from unfortunate incidents at the hands of overexcited spectators).
That's the beauty of a small sample size: you can spin it whichever way you like.
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