Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More On Injuries

I did find the injury report for week 17 at WalterFootball and it reveals a lot of interesting information.

First , let's look at playoff teams versus non-playoff teams. This isn't quite apples-apples because teams that had no shot in week 17 were more likely to stash any player who was out for the game on IR whereas the playoff hopefuls had to keep their options open. But even so, I believe we can spot some trends.

Playoff team                  Number of Players on IR         Significant players
Arizona 4 0
Atlanta 7 0
Baltimore 18 6
Carolina 3 1
Indianapolis 8 2
Miami 4 1
Minnesota 9 2
New York 9 1
Philadelphia 4 1
Pittsburgh 7 3
San Diego 3 1
Tennessee 4 0

Non-Playoff Team
Buffalo 8 3
Chicago 9 5
Cincinnati 18 5
Cleveland 11 5
Dallas 7 3
Denver 14 5
Detroit 15 6
Green Bay 10 3
Houston 12 4
Jacksonville 13 7
Kansas City 6 3
New England 15 6
New Orleans 18 7
New York 4 0
Oakland 13 2
San Francisco 5 1
Seattle 12 8
St. Louis 12 6
Tampa Bay 6 1
Washington 6 3

The dichotomy between these two lists is striking. It appears that the secret to making the playoffs is merely remaining healthy? Really? Well the argument can be made.

Other than Baltimore, no playoff team had double digit numbers on the IR or more than three "significant" (ie regular starters) on the list. While there was a bit more spread among non-playoff teams, we can see that 12 of the 20 teams that fell short had 10 or more players on IR, 11 teams had more than 3 significant players. Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, New England, San Francisco and Seattle all lost their starting quarterbacks for the year. All but New England had losing records and picked in the top ten.

There are a lot of ways to pursue this data further, for one thing: predictability. It seems apparent that Arizona, Miami, Philadelphia, Carolina, Tennessee and Atlanta enjoyed unusually good luck, we expect a return to normalcy and many fewer wins. On the other hand, New England, New Orleans, and Seattle had unusually bad luck. We expect more wins out of those teams - a scary prospect in the case of New England.

And now for the outliers. In the case of non-playoff teams the future looks a little bleak for New York, Kansas City, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Washington. They can all be expected to suffer a greater injury rate and poorer seasons, a particularly depressing thought for Chief fans.

It would be a little more informative if we could compare this to average team age but that data is difficult to find. There was a study done last year and I've found partial results:

Youngest ....   Oldest                      IR
1. Kansas City 25.6 6
1. Green Bay 25.6 10
3. Indianapolis 8
4. Cincinnati 18
5. Miami 4
6. Buffalo 8
11. San Diego 3
28. New England 15
29. Detroit 15
30. St. Louis 12
31. Washington 6
32. New Orleans 18
Okay, this tells a good story too. Old teams get hurt a lot more often (and a double whammy to Redskin fans. With a healthy Carson Palmer and a normal injury rate we should expect tremendous improvement from Cincinnati. This also ties into my long-held belief that champions are young, or at least not old. None of the bottom five teams on this list made the playoffs.

And of course we can also see from this list that dark days remain for St. Louis and Detroit. Old and awful is a bad combination.


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