2012 NFL Predicted Standings & Super Bowl Win Odds | 2012 NFL Schedule Released

posted in NFL

*UPDATE* The projections below are old. Please see our latest 2012 NFL predicted standings, which include adjustments for the NFL Draft and the addition of starting QB info.*

It seems like just a few weeks ago that Eli Manning led the Giants to their second Super Bowl title in five years.  On Tuesday, though, the NFL released the 2012 schedule, prompting fans across the nation to speculate about their own team’s chances to win Super Bowl XLVII.

We’ve taken that NFL schedule, run an early version of our preseason ratings, and simulated the entire season 5,000 times. The result is projected records and standings for all teams and divisions, plus every team’s chances of winning the Super Bowl, and their preseason power rating and strength of schedule ranks.

The ratings we used aren’t perfect, and we plan on releasing some improved projections later this summer that take into account the draft and free agent signings — especially quarterback movement, which will have a big effect on the Broncos and Colts. But these predictions do use the same formula that led to our 2011 NFL preseason projections (which proved to be quite profitable) so they should still be more accurate than those of the average talking head.

A few teams stand out .  Let’s take a quick look at some of the most interesting.

New England Patriots — New England is far and away the highest rated team at this point.  Their continued success and reloading through the draft are reflected positively in their almost 20% chance to win the Super Bowl.  No team in last season’s preseason projections was close to this level.

San Francisco 49ers — The 49ers took a big jump under Jim Harbaugh last season, moving from 6-10 to 13-3, while finishing sixth in our predictive power ratings. However, our preseason ratings see two red flags. First, they had an insanely good turnover margin last season — the best in our 9 years of data. There is virtually zero chance they’ll have as large of a turnover advantage next year, so their forecast takes a ding because of that. Second, last season’s  improvement seemed to come out of nowhere, with much of the improvement attributed to the coaching staff. This is one area where our projections may have a blind spot. The preseason ratings see San Francisco’s true performance level regressing a bit towards where it was in 2009 and 2010, but if Jim Harbaugh’s coaching really does make a huge difference, they shouldn’t fall that far.

Denver Broncos / Indianapolis Colts– As mentioned above, we haven’t added quarterback info to the projections yet. The Broncos are already expected to be good, but they should improve even more once they get credit for Peyton Manning’s presence. Similarly, the Colts may take a hit once the projection system realizes that they’ll be starting a rookie at quarterback, rather than Manning. (Yes, we know Manning didn’t start for the Colts last season, but he did in the previous few years, which are factors in the projections.)

New Orleans Saints — Frankly, there’s never been a situation quite like this, so any purely data-based projection is going to have a tough time knowing what to do with the year-long suspension of head coach Sean Payton. Then again, so will any human prognosticator. These projections completely ignore the issue, so if you think the absence of Payton will harm the Saints, you’ll need to mentally dock the Saints a win or two.

If you see any other projections you’re curious about — or any you disagree with! — leave a comment below. We’d love to discuss them!

TeamRankings 2012 NFL Preseason Predictions (Version 1.0)
AFC East
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
New England12.13.982%61%20%121
NY Jets8.97.139%15%3%98
AFC North
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
AFC South
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
AFC West
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
San Diego8.97.148%38%3%1015
Kansas City6.19.915%10%0%257
NFC East
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
NY Giants8.27.840%25%3%1311
NFC North
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
Green Bay10.95.172%51%10%431
NFC South
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
New Orleans10.95.175%57%11%327
Tampa Bay6.59.518%8%1%2622
NFC West
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
San Francisco7.28.837%32%1%2123
St. Louis5.011.013%10%0%3226
  • Paulmal52

    Bears 6 and 10, really? With a healthy Cutler I see 10 and 6.

  • Austin Link

     Paulmal, that surprised (and disappointed) me also.  The reason though is they had extraordinarily few early draft picks in the 2009 and 2010 drafts.  Our analysis of previous seasons show that the draft picks from two and three years ago tend to develop into strong players and help teams.  The Bears unfortunately have no help coming.

  • Jrichards

    How in God’s name could you have possibly came out with the AFC South rankings? The Colts have gotten even worse as a team than they were in 2011. That alone says your algorithm is beyond broken.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    J — Yeah, the Colts prediction is the one that looks the worst to me, subjectively. But as we mentioned, these early projections do not account for the fact that Peyton Manning is not walking back onto that field for Indy. The past few years are all factors in the preseason ratings, so right now the Colts are getting some credit for their great ratings 2 and 3 years ago (with Manning). Once we add in QB info, the Colts will surely take a hit.

    Beyond that, things are never as obvious as they seem in the NFL. The Colts were rated 30th last year, with a rating of -6.6 (about a touchdown worse than average, per game). Take a look at the teams ranked and rated most similarly to the Colts over the past few seasons, and how their NEXT season turned out.

    2010 Denver (4-12, #30, -6.5) — 8-8, won division
    2009 Seattle (5-11, #28, -6.4) — 7-9, won division
    2009 Kansas City (4-12, #29, -6.6) — 10-6, won division
    2009 Oakland (5-11, #30, -8.3) — 8-8
    2008 Cincinnati (4-11-1, #29, -6.0) — 10-6, won division
    2008 Kansas City (2-14, #30 -7.2) — 4-12
    2007 Miami (1-15, #29, -7.0 — 11-5, won division
    2007 Atlanta (4-12, #30, -7.7) — 11-5, wild card
    2006 San Francisco (7-9, #30, -6.2) — 5-11 
    2006 Tampa Bay (4-12, #31, -6.4) — 9-7, won division
    2005 Tennessee (4-12, #29, -5.9) — 8-8
    2005 New Orleans (3-13, #30, -7.6) — 10-6, won division
    2004 Dallas (6-10, #30, -5.7) — 9-7
    2004 Chicago (5-11, #31, -5.8) — 11-5, won division
    2003 San Diego (4-12, #30, -5.8) — 12-4, won division
    2003 NY Giants (4-12, #31, -6.5) — 6-10

    That’s an average increase of 4.4 wins, and 9 of 16 teams won their division the next year. Now, I am absolutely NOT saying that the Colts will win their division. Once we factor in Peyton Manning’s absence, their projection will surely be lower. The point here is that teams rarely stay horrible for very long in the NFL. The schedule is engineered to give bad teams a boost up the following season, and the high draft picks tend to help a lot.

  • Bakes201345

    No team getting better than 12-4? Unheard of. Also, Carolina getting worse and NFC West reverting back to mediocrity is very unlikely.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Bakes — We’re not at all saying that no team will beat 12-4. Somebody almost certainly will. But the numbers above are our *average* forecast for each team, over several thousand season simulations. There’s a large margin of error on any NFL prediction (not just ours, but from anyone — “any given Sunday” is for the most part true), so predicting any specific team to top 12-4 is generally going to be an incorrect prediction. I can’t find current Vegas team win total over/unders, but the early ones released right after the super bowl had only Green Bay at 12.5: 
    http://www.sportsoddshistory.com/nfl/win/120210.html … But the line on that was -210, which means the odds implied the Packers had only about a 1 in 3 shot at notching 13 wins. My point is, our predictions are not much less extreme than those of Vegas.

    As for the NFC West … we tried to explain San Francisco above, in the article. They seemed like an extremely lucky team last year, and should not be so lucky this year.(Though personally, I do think we are underrating them a bit). And we are forecasting the *rest* of the NFC West to win *more* games than last year, so I guess you must be talking entirely about the 49ers.

    Carolina is an interesting case. Last year they won 6 games against an average schedule. This season we’re projecting them to win 6 games against an average schedule. Yet, we have them rated only 31st, which is clearly a step back. My guess is that their projection will improve a bit once we add QB info into the projections, but still … I don’t think their upside is very high, in terms of wins. They are in a tough division, so are unlikely to sneak into the playoffs a la last year’s Broncos.

  • Teeroymarshall

    You claim that you are forecasting the “rest” of the NFC West to win “more” games than last year yet on both forecasts you have the Seattle Seahawks winning 6.7 games this year.  Where do you get your information?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Sorry, I wasn’t very clear there. I meant if you add together the Seahawks + Rams + Cardinals. Basically, if you take out the 49ers, we see their NFC West opponents improving on aggregate.

  • Jukes

    I feel like the cowboys will do better than projected…romo is coming off his best year statistically and will improve. the defense was their Achilles heal last season and with their offseason acquisitions and picking up the best defensive player in the draft i see them doing way better than projected here

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Jukes — The biggest blind spot in our projections is probably defensive free agents, as those are tremendously difficult to project. However, most of the signs for Dallas are not very positive.

    Here are the most important positive factors in the projections, and how the Cowboys rank in each. Remember, this is based on what has *actually* been useful in projecting past years, not on our subjective opinion.

    2011 Rating — 15th
    2010 Rating — 20th
    2009 Rating — 9th
    2010 Draft — 21st
    2009 Draft — 31st
    QB Change — 10th (since Romo missed time in 2010, the Cowboys get a bt of a bonus for quarterback “improvement” in 2012)

    You are right about Romo being a positive, but there are just not many bright spots here. Notice that this neither year’s draft nor last year’s is an important factor. Once you account for QB’s, newly drafted rookies have generally not made as big of a difference in team quality as people. There are always exceptions, though, so hopefully Morris Claiborne will be one.

  • Jukes

    I see your point…im a huge cowboys fan so im going on pure opinion. But if I had to take over/under 7 games for cowboys i feel like it’d be stupid to take the under. but like you said, these are just projections

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yeah, we are definitely below market value (roughly 8.5 last time I saw a line, which was a month ago or more) on the Cowboys. My subjective personal take is that it sounds low. But I’ve learned that generally when I try to argue with the numbers, the numbers end up winning more often than not (but not all the time).

    For what it’s worth, last year our NFC East projection was:

    Giants 10-6
    Eagles 9-7
    Cowboys 8-8
    Redskins 7-9

    Actual finish:

    Giants 9-7
    Eagles 8-8
    Cowboys 8-8
    Redskins 5-11

    Hoping we do as well again this year!

  • Ryan

    This is stupid. Arizona 7-9, San Fran 7-9, Chicago 6-10, Dallas 6-10, Miami 9-7?? I know it’s projections, but common sense and a little football knowledge tell you this about 99.999% is not going to happen. So Dallas gets worse huh? Miami might make the playoffs? San Fran shits the bed? Chicago gets worse? This chart means nothing and is absolutely pointless to make being it’s only May.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Ryan — We’ve updated the projections since these were published, to reflect the NFL Draft and starting QB info. You can see the new projections here: 

    No forecast will be perfect (and the 49ers projection does seem way too low to me), but this method did a good job last year, despite some predictions that people thought looked weird at the time:

    –We took a lot of flack for only having the Eagles at 9-7 despite their free agent signings … Remember, people were calling them a dream team, and they had the second best Super Bowl win odds in the preseason. They finished 8-8.
    –Our best value bet in the AFC West was the Denver Broncos, who Vegas forecast as last in the division.
    –We predicted that the 49ers were the best & the Rams were the worst in the NFC East. Vegas odds had the Rams as division favorites, and San Francisco in third place.
    –We had the Bears at only 8-8 after an 11-5 season the year before. They finished 8-8).
    –We predicted 8.4 wins for the Bengals, while conventional wisdom thought they would be terrible, and Vegas had their win total over/under at 4. They finished 9-7 and made the playoffs.

    There were obviously some misses, too. For one thing, we had troube adjusting for Peyton Manning’s injury, and projected the Colts to be way too good. But we’ve tried to address that problem in Version 2 of our projections (linked above) by using starting QB info in the projections.

    Anyway, the point is that some of the things that look obviously wrong are probably going to end up being correct. The NFL is a topsy-turvy league where teams don’t stay the same year to year (unless you have an elite quarterback, like the Patriots or Packers). It’s difficult to predict, but doing it systematically using data and mathematical models seemed to work well last year. Hopefully it will go as well again this season.

  • Hank

    You know damn well why the bears were 8-8 last season.  W/o Cutlers injury, they are probably 12-4 last year.  They add one of the top recievers in the league, and you have them at 6 wins?  Jesus christ.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Hank — Thanks for the reminder. Actually, Cutler’s injury skipped my mind when writing the reply above. Now that you mention it, the Bears do seem to be underrated by our models. I’ll look into the data to make sure we don’t have an error.

    Also, we have the Bears at 7 wins in the latest projection, not 6: http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/2012-nfl-predicted-standings-super-bowl-win-odds-version-2-0-2012-nfl-draft … not that it makes a material difference in the discussion.

  • Steveoconnor64

    To say you accurately predicted Bears at 8-8 is silly.  You predicted that Cutler and Forte were going to have injuries and miss most of the season. But that is the fun with sports anything can happen.  The Bears will NOT finish at the bottom of the division this year.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Steve — OK, fair enough. Take the Bears off the list above, and I think the point still stands.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/UGJMKKMTISMA5ECHDYXQA465EA Ron N Barb

    WHat bonehead wrote this?  Pitt #2?   LMAO!!! idiot

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Thanks for the constructive criticism.

  • football guru

    What 3.9 teams do you feel will beat the Patriots? It seems they have an easy schedule next season.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    guru — The power ratings actually have the Patriots favored in every single game next year, even  on the road against the Ravens. So it’s not there are any obvious losses on the schedule, it’s just that no game is a lock (Green Bay vs Kansas City last year ring any bells?), and those slight chances of a loss add up over the course of the season.

    That said, here are the toughest games for the Patriots, according to the projected ratings (and taking home field advantage into account):

    @ Baltimore (favored by about 2 points)
    @ Jets (4)
    @ Dolphins (5)
    @ Bills (7)
    @ Titans (7)
    @ Seahawks (10)

  • Sam

    Not even close to right. 15% chance of chiefs making playoffs.Espn said chiefs had a top 5 offseason with one of the best rosters excluding the qaurterback. total joke

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Sam — First, I’ll make sure and say that our predictions obviously can’t be perfect, and everyone will find something to disagree with. But if they agreed exactly with your intuition, they’d be pretty pointless. Still, of all the things to argue about, I think the Chiefs projection should be near the bottom of the list.

    I’m a Chiefs fan, and I don’t see much reason for optimism. The quarterback remains the most important position in football, and KC has the worst one in the division. I don’t think it’s that farfetched to say that the clear favorites are:

    1) Last year’s division winner who upgraded their QB to Peyton Manning, and
    2) The team that has been in first or within a game of first in each of the past 7 seasons, and has the other elite quarterback in the division, Philip Rivers.

    As a side note, ESPN is not exactly known for making good predictions. For example,
    since we’re talking about the AFC West … last year, every one of their
    experts picked the Chargers to win the AFC West, and the only team
    picked as a Wild Card was the Chiefs:
    Does that mean our choice of the Broncos as the best value pick last
    year was bad?

  • Sam

    Three key players coming back this season that didn’t get past week 2. Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry ( rookie pro bowl) , and Tony Moeaki.

  • Tacoma Ute

    I’ve been watching football for 40 years and these are by far the worst preseason predictions I’ve ever seen. Houston only 8 wins? SF only 7?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

     Tacoma — As mentioned above, we used the exact same method this year that we used last year (except we also added in info on starting QBs). That resulted in some wacky predictions last year that actually turned out pretty well. So, yes, there are definitely going to be a few misses here, but we’d guess there will be some unexpected hits as well.

  • mike palmer

    Do you think the Texans are THAT bad of a team with ALL that talent. Some people are just plain idiots when they’re insulting our team that way. We’re had the no. 2 defense last year in the league, and with the additions of Whitney Mercilus and Jared Crick on board, I certainly wouldn’t want to face that defense all day. It’s going to be absolute hell for the opposing quarterback. Mercilus was an ALL AMERICAN at Illinois last year. I hope we make you eat your words. That would be SO satisfying!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

     Mike — You might want to lighten up if you feel insulted by mathematical models. :-) … Subjectively, I agree with you, though. I think the forecast for the Texans *seems* a bit too pessimistic. Then again, the numbers show them with one of the toughest schedules next season, after facing an easier-than-average schedule in 2011. Maybe that’ll make more difference than it seems.

    As an aside, remember that every team gets to draft players, so every fan can say “Look who we added through the draft; he’ll make us way better!” … And most of them can even say their top guy was drafted ahead of Mercilus. Our model uses the draft pick order to try and account for the impact of new rookies — we don’t try to forecast which draft picks are sleepers. So adding Mercilus with the 26th pick is actually a very slight NEGATIVE for the projection, when you compare it to the average team (since the average first round drafting slot is 16.5). He may indeed be a better fit for the Texans than some higher picks are for their teams. But that’s not something we’re able to account for in the models at this time.

  • Michael Panzarella

    not even close you think Chicago is going to to be in last? no its going to be the young Minnesota  vikings the bears have so much more potential

  • guest

    bears will win 11+ games this year this whole chart and predictions is laughable

  • Agolin

    These are hands down the worst ‘projections’ I will see all season. What a freaking joke. Thanks for making me laugh. Now I will go blindfold myself, throw darts at nfl teams on a cork board and list the teams I hit as playoff teams. We will see who is closer at the end of the season.

  • Jasperthedog

    this is stupid how are the raiders going to do worse than last year even though they have palmer for a full offseason and yet they still 6-10

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Jasperdog — Carson Palmer only went 4-6 last year for the Raiders, while they were 4-2 without him. I’m not sure that’s strong evidence that having him for a full season is going to make them world-beaters all of a sudden. Don’t forget, too, than Oakland’s division rival Denver added Peyton Manning in the offseason. If anything, Oakland’s QB situation looks *worse* this year, when compared to the rest of the division.

  • TCW

    Miami ranked second and Buffalo last!!!  What are you smoking?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    TCW — Two things:

    1) This is the old version of our projections. Our updated version (taking into account the NFL Draft and some free agent QB signings) is here: http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/2012-nfl-predicted-standings-super-bowl-win-odds-version-2-0-2012-nfl-draft … The gap between Miami and Buffalo has closed considerably there.

    2) You gotta look at more than just the order the teams are listed. Here, Miami is projected with 9.1 wins, Buffalo 7.7. That’s a pretty minor difference. In the updated projections I linked above, Miami is projected with 8.3 wins, and Buffalo 7.7. That’s basically a toss up.



  • Jgust2154

    Bears at only 6.5 wins? I wish I could bet a million dollars on the over on that one!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Jgust — These are old projections. The newer version (which accounts for this year’s draft, and current projected starting quarterbacks) is here: 
    http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/2012-nfl-predicted-standings-super-bowl-win-odds-version-2-0-2012-nfl-draft Of course, the Bears are only a bit better in that version, at 7.1 wins. The Bears are definitely one of the teams that a data-driven model may have trouble with, given their injuries last season.

  • Troy

    Give me a break!  My daughter could have done a better job of predicting the 2012 outcomes based on helmet designs and uniform colors.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I know uniforms and mascots works for the NCAA tournament, but I don’t think it’s as successful for NFL projections. :) If you’d like to discuss some of the projections, and why you think a team will fare differently, feel free, but I’d encourage you to read our responses on the rest of this thread first. (And on our updated projections: http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/2012-nfl-predicted-standings-super-bowl-win-odds-version-2-0-2012-nfl-draft )

  • Kevin

    With Vick healthy, the Eagles are the best team.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Considering that Michael Vick has played a full 16 games exactly once in his entire career, and is currently at “80%” and nursing some bruised ribs (http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2012/08/michael-vick-rib-injury/1), I’m not sure that “with Vick healthy” is a very comforting phrase for the Eagles.

    Our projections indirectly take into account his tendency to get injured. If Vick had been healthy all season the last few years, the Eagles probably would have performed better. Their higher past power ratings would then make our 2012 projection for them better. So, if Vick is healthy all year, the Eagles are a decent bet to outperform our projections. The question is, is Vick a decent bet to stay healthy all year? I think the answer is no.

  • James


  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Or are they POSTposterous????

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Or are they POSTposterous????

  • big dummy

    looking into my crystal ball thats kept me from work the past 6 NFL seasons lol i see ; eagles/patriots after a final 6 of bengles, jets, broncos, saints after knocking out the pack, da bears, giants and steelers ! hahah don’t rag on me lets just see what happens lmao sorry thats just what i see and im 6-4 since 01′ and hardly watch a game call it lucky guess or my disabled ass has way too much time for math, research and stats…lol yup immmmm stupid lmao