Friday, July 27, 2012

Turnover Margin and Predictions

Joe Fortenbaugh with a cool article.  Usually the kind of thing I like to research and I’m a little surprised I hadn’t thought it of it before.

I disagree with some of his conclusions (of course) because I think he looks too much at single seasons without looking at spreads of seasons for anomalous numbers.

First the link:  

Now the chart:

odds chart

From this it is easy to look at 3-4 year spreads and ask “what number doesn’t fit”.  For example, Kansas City’s +9 in 2010 was out of character for them and corresponded with a somewhat improbable playoff run.

Looking at 2011 we see that Fortenbaugh highlighted Jacksonville’s jump, but the real anomaly was 2010, not 2011.  2011 was corrective.

So looking at this, the teams who I would expect to be “corrective” in 2012 would be (in order of confidence):

San Francisco     -15.5
Philadelphia      +13.5
Pittsburgh          +12.5
Tampa Bay         +11

I would normally expect Baltimore to improve by about +6 but the loss of Suggs may mitigate this improvement a bit.  I’ll leave it to you guys to decide whether last year’s dip was merely normal variation or a combination of weak offensive line play and aging playmakers.  You’ll recall Reed’s somewhat bizarre INTsplosion in a half season in 2010.  It could be that +2 is closer to the new normal for the Ravens.

I would like to point to Arizona.  A team I already thought was a bit remarkable, going 8-8 with no quarterback and trying to overcome heavy losses from the ’10 offseason.  Additionally we see that their TO margin also dove.  While this could directly correspond to their personnel problems, it could also point to a team that suffered bad luck and might be worth a couple more wins.

Finally, looking at Denver.  This is an interesting team.  Made the playoffs (and won a game!) last year with an absurd run of 4th quarter comebacks.  Now they’ve replaced their awful QB with an all-time great.  It is impossible to predict exactly what Peyton will be, but it is fairly easy to project that he will be better than Ortonbow.  This is a team that could take dramatic steps forward, given the right Manning, similarly to Minnesota in Favre’s penultimate season.

Not predicting, just predicting.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

5 Year Record

Training camps open this week! Young guys report early, vets report later in the week, and the hitting starts soon. In honor of the collective return to vivid life, here is The List.

In the table below, ties are broken by postseason wins, where applicable, under the theory that one postseason win is worth more than one reg season win. It's a slightly greater accomplishment. Thus Seattle gets the nod over Carolina & Tampa, because of the two playoff wins. Ties remaining after that are broken by the most recent reg season record, under the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately theory. Thus Packers ahead of Steelers; likewise Niners over Vikes, Carolina over Tampa, Miami over Redskins, and Oakland over Buffalo.

For comparison, last year's list is here.

TeamReg seasonPost season Grand Total
20072008200920102011 Sum20072008200920102011 Sum
New England Patriots16111014136422468
Green Bay Packers1361110155514560
Pittsburgh Steelers1012912125532560
New York Giants101281094944857
New Orleans Saints781311135231456
Baltimore Ravens51191212492111554
Indianapolis Colts131214102512253
San Diego Chargers11813984921352
Philadelphia Eagles89.51110846.52248.5
Dallas Cowboys1391168471148
Atlanta Falcons4119131047047
Tennessee Titans101386946046
New York Jets4991184122445
Arizona Cardinals8910584031444
Chicago Bears797118421143
Houston Texans889610411142
San Francisco 49ers578613391140
Minnesota Vikings8101263391140
Jacksonville Jaguars115785361137
Denver Broncos78848351136
Seattle Seahawks1045773311235
Carolina Panthers71282635035
Tampa Bay Buccnrs99310435035
Cincinnati Bengals74.5104934.5034.5
Miami Dolphins11177632032
Washington Redskins9846532032
Oakland Raiders4558830030
Buffalo Bills7764630030
Cleveland Browns10455428028
Kansas City Chiefs42410727027
Detroit Lions70261025025
St. Louis Rams3217215015

My rule of thumb is, any team with a grand total of 45 or over is doing something right. That's an average winning record, nine wins per year, in a league where winning at all (let alone winning consistently) is extremely difficult. These are the most successful organizations in the sport.

Note technically a total of 40.5 or better represents a “winning” record, barely. That would average out to 4 yrs of 8-8 and one year of 8-7-1. I personally think that is nothing to write home about: but it beats losing. These teams in the 41-44 win category are in a second tier. I anticipate Houston breaking into the next tier up next season. Maybe San Francisco too.

The usual suspects in the top 5 this year. Man, the Packers are coming off a 15-win season, the Steelers have appeared in two Super Bowls during this span, and the Giants have *won* two – and look how far ahead of everybody the Pats are. That's really impressive. They lost their starting QB one of the seasons listed here, they're supposed to have a crappy defense, and they still averaged 12.8 reg season wins plus a playoff win over the span. Unbelievable. Next year the Imperfect Season comes off the books, so they should come back to the pack a little. Or who knows, maybe Belichick will do it again.

Indy takes a bit of a tumble (they were #1 last year), they figure to fall a bit more over a couple seasons. Everyone knows they lost Manning, but the more important figure long-term is Bill Polian, who might be the best GM of all time. Who replaces him? I like Chuck Pagano very much, but who's picking the players?

If the Ravens have another of their typical Harbaugh double-digit win seasons, their win total will increase on this list. Their 5-win 2008 season will come off the books. But their peer group is tough to gain a lot of ground on: they could easily add 5 wins to their total and still move up only 1 spot.

Five full seasons since the Chargers let Marty go, and the reports of their demise have been – well I don't know, we see steady decline over the last three seasons, and it's not clear that AJ Smith is still making great draft picks. They had a decent offseason, for once. We'll see.

Man, the Rams suuuuuuuuuuuuck. 3 wins per year! Nice to see the Lions finally out of the cellar. Notable that they win 10 games and only climb up to second-worst, but they have an albatross. The zero will come off this list in a couple seasons; they seem to be building to last, so they could climb fast once they lose the anchor.

Oakland has had two respectable seasons in a row. Interesting.


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