Friday, January 4, 2013

NFL Wrapup: Pythagorian Projection vs. Reality

As usual, the "Projected Wins" value is used as a baseline, so a positive difference means the team exceeded their projected win value, a negative difference means they fell short.

Teams are sorted by the magnatude (absolute value) of the difference; teams that came close to their projected wins are near the top, teams farthest away from their projection are at the bottom.

This is a follow-up to a post from last summer. See this post for background details.

TeamActual Proj. Diff Note
Browns  5 4.9 0.1
Patriots 12 11.6 0.4
Panthers  7 7.5 -0.5
Bills  6 6.6 -0.6
Cowboys  8 8.6 -0.6
49ers 11.5 12.3 -0.8
Packers 11 11.9 -0.9
Giants  9 7.9 1.1
Texans 12 10.9 1.1
Ravens 10 11.2 -1.2
Bengals 10 8.6 1.4
Dolphins  7 8.5 -1.5
Chargers  7 8.7 -1.7
Bears 10 8.3 1.7
Chiefs  2 4.0 -2.0
Cardinals  5 7.0 -2.0 Kevin Kolb can't stay healthy
Titans  6 8.2 -2.2 Jake Locker doesn't seem ready for prime time
Raiders  4 6.3 -2.3
Jets  6 8.4 -2.4 Revis hurt, and nobody to take up the slack
Seahawks 11 8.2 2.8 Russell Wilson, defense
Jaguars  2 5.2 -3.2 MJD hurt for most of season
Steelers  8 11.2 -3.2 Bruce Arians > Todd Haley?
Buccaneers  7 3.5 3.5
Falcons 13 9.3 3.7 Easy schedule?
Redskins 10 5.8 4.2 RG3
Vikings 10 5.5 4.5 Adrian Peterson's MVP season
Saints  7 12.1 -5.1 Sanctions take their toll
Rams  7.5 2.3 5.2 Jeff Fisher
Eagles  4 9.8 -5.8 Collapse of the Dream Team
Lions  4 9.9 -5.9 Lack of discipline
Broncos 13 5.8 7.2 Peyton Manning
Colts 11 3.3 7.7 Bruce Arians, Andrew Luck


  • Jeff Fisher did an impressive job in his first season with the Rams, managing to post their best record in 6 years, and a 4-1-1 record in the division. Of course, that means they'll be expected to have a winning record next year, something they haven't done since 2003.

  • The Bengals' win over the Giants was the start of a 7-1 streak that propelled them to a winning season and the playoffs. They now have back-to-back winning seasons and playoff appearances for the first time in 30 years. The Bengals last won a playoff game 22 years ago, so a win this Saturday will end the league's longest active streak without a playoff win.

  • It shouldn't be a huge surprise that a lack of discipline off the field for the Lions was reflected in a lack of performance on the field. The Lions did fire a few assistant coaches; I guess we'll find out next fall how much of a difference that makes.

  • I certainly nailed it when I predicted the Saints would fall short of their 12.1-win projection. The good news for that team is (assuming their offense remains strong) even a modest improvement in their defense will get the Saints right back in contention.

  • On the other hand, my prediction that the 49ers would fall short of their 12.3-win projection was, well, wrong. Mostly a very impressive season, especially given a pretty tough schedule. But I wonder how confident Jim Harbaugh can be going into the playoffs with a quarterback who doesn't have 8 starts yet, and his choice of two unreliable field goal kickers.

  • The Colts have managed a very impressive turn-around, with a lot of the credit going to Andrew Luck. But his stat lines haven't been very impressive, with a 54% completion rate, and nearly as many interceptions as touchdown passes. As mentioned earlier, I think there's a good chance Luck will struggle in the playoffs, and could have a noticable sophomore slump next year if the Colts have a tougher schedule of opponents.