Friday, April 25, 2014

NFL Wrapup: Pythagorean projection vs. reality

One final season wrapup post, and I got it in before spring summer! (Oh, well. Given how trivial some of the stuff is that passes for news right now, maybe it makes sense to wait a while to post it. Anyway...)

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 magnitude (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
Bills 6 5.8 0.2
Raiders 4 4.3 -0.3
Patriots 12 12.4 -0.4
Rams 7 6.6 0.4
Lions 7 6.5 0.5
Jaguars 4 3.4 0.6
Seahawks 13 12.4 0.6
Cowboys 8 7.4 0.6
Steelers 8 8.6 -0.6
49ers 12 11.3 0.7
Broncos 13 12.3 0.7
Dolphins 8 7.1 0.9
Chargers 9 8.0 1.0
Bengals 11 9.9 1.1
Ravens 8 9.4 -1.4
Browns 4 6.2 -2.2 Injuries, QB issues
Packers 8 10.3 -2.3 Aaron Rodgers hurt
Titans 7 4.5 2.5
Jets 8 5.4 2.6 Defense shows signs of life
Bears 8 10.8 -2.8 Injuries, big drop off on defense
Saints 11 8.1 2.9 Sean Payton back
Giants 7 10.0 -3.0 Injuries
Colts 10 6.8 3.2 Andrew Luck got better
Vikings 5 8.8 -3.3 Adrian Peterson regresses back to just very good
Buccaneers 4 7.9 -3.9 HC, QB controversy
Panthers 12 7.8 4.2 Defense much better
Cardinals 10 4.8 5.2 Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer
Eagles 10 4.0 6.0 Chip Kelly, Nick Foles
Redskins 3 9.1 -6.1 RG3 not fully recovered
Falcons 4 11.0 -7.0 Injuries
Texans 2 10.1 -8.1 Injuries
Chiefs 11 2.6 8.4 Andy Reid, defense much better

Using my original category metrics, that's 16 teams reasonably close, 9 teams moderately close, 5 teams wrong, and 2 teams in the "yikes" category.


  • Sean Payton really made a remarkable difference for the Saints. At this point, he's got to have a lot of good will available in New Orleans.

  • Which kinda makes me wonder just how bad the situation with Jim Harbaugh really is. The 49ers were pretty much a doormat team from 2003 to 2010. Then Harbaugh is hired, and they are immediately one of the best teams in the league, advancing to the conference championship for 3 years in a row. Based on those kinds of results, he's really gotta be some kind of a pain if they still want to get rid of him.

  • I was a little surprised to see that the Titans and Jets beat their respective projections by decent margins, in spite of their struggles. Clearly they both have issues to resolve, but maybe aren't that far away from at least being in contention for a playoff spot.

  • Carson Palmer didn't have the most amazing season in the world (he threw a career high 22 interceptions), but he was so much of an upgrade over what the Cardinals had last year, he's gotta have some credit for their improved record.

  • Last summer, I predicted that Chip Kelly might struggle getting his offensive schemes to work in the NFL. I'm still not totally sold it's going to work long term, but I have to admit he did better in his first season that I was expecting.