2012 NFL Predicted Standings & Super Bowl Win Odds Version 2.0 | 2012 NFL Draft

posted in NFL

Two weeks ago we published the first version of our 2012 NFL projected records.  Now that the NFL Draft is over, we’ve added some info about projected starting quarterbacks (including Andrew Luck and RG3), and made a few general optimizations to our pre-season ratings, which means the second version is ready for perusal.

We’ve simulated the schedule thousands of times in order to predict win totals and playoff odds every NFL team. The 2011 version of these projections had good results, and this model should be even a little better.

The big picture generally looks the same as our first round of estimates, but there was a bit of movement.  Here are a few notable teams whose projections have shifted the most.

For The Better

The outlook for these teams looks rosier now that we’ve added info about starting quarterbacks and the draft.

Houston Texans

We forecast less than 8 wins for Houston in our first set of numbers, much worse than most people expected for the Texans.  Our latest round now has them at 8.4 wins and a pretty clear favorite in the AFC South.  We still see their good season last year as a little bit of a fluke; it just might be hard to notice because the AFC South is so weak.

Philadelphia Eagles

In these projections we were able to factor in Michael Vick, removing the lingering effects of Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb.  We now project the Eagles to be the 4th best team in the NFL, and to have a 9% chance of winning the super bowl.  Philly may have disappointed last year, but expect them to show up this season.

For The Worse

These teams took a hit once we adjusted for their projected starting quarterbacks.

Miami Dolphins

We overestimated Miami last year, but their recovery in the second half somewhat justified our optimism.  We again project them to be on the positive side of .500 in 2012, but the quarterback position could be a big difference maker.  Our projections are pessimistic about Ryan Tannehill’s rookie year — starting him, as we’ve assumed will happen here, costs the Dolphins about half a win compared to Matt Moore.

Indianapolis Colts

You may have heard — Peyton Manning is no longer suiting up for the Colts. That means their positive performances from two and three years need to be discounted. The QB adjustment is a bit conservative, because QB performance is difficult to predict. However, Manning was a machine, which means the formulas are still probably underestimating the impact of his absence a little.

Projected Playoffs

Here is how the playoffs would play out, if these projections ended up being spot on:

Wild Card Round

– New York Jets @ Denver Broncos
– Baltimore Ravens @ Houston Texans
– New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles
– Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals

Division Round

– Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
– Denver Broncos @ Pittsburgh Steelers
– Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers
– Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints

Conference Championships

– Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots
– New Orleans Saints @ Green Bay Packers

Super Bowl

– New England Patriots over Green Bay Packers

Again these projections are not perfect, and we may make a couple adjustments in the next few months.  If you are curious about them — or just plain disagree — let us know in the comments!

TeamRankings 2012 NFL Preseason Predictions (Version 2.0)
AFC East
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
New England12.63.490%71%26%127
NY Jets8.97.141%13%3%1011
AFC North
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
AFC South
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
AFC West
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
San Diego8.67.444%34%2%1115
Kansas City6.29.815%10%0%269
NFC East
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
NY Giants8.87.248%28%4%94
NFC North
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
Green Bay10.95.177%53%10%532
NFC South
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
New Orleans10.75.375%60%10%326
Tampa Bay6.29.815%7%0%3023
NFC West
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivWin SBTR RankSOS Rank
San Francisco7.48.637%32%1%1920
St. Louis5.011.012%10%0%3225

  • Jukes

    hahah cowboys as 6.8 wins??  you should fix ur projections

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

    I replied to this basic sentiment over on the other thread: http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/2012-nfl-predicted-standings-super-bowl-win-odds-2012-nfl-schedule-released#comment-515580689

    But let me add one thing I forgot — they have one of the tougher schedules in the NFL (6th toughest, by our projections), and they are in a division with 2 legit Super Bowl contenders (Phillies, Giants). That definitely factors into the win projection some.

  • Heineken

    Packers 19-0, no other NFC team will be in playoffs.

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

    :) That would be impressive.

  • CCPhilly

    Eagles all the way baby.

  • Hunter Wood

    What the heck made them think the 49ers and the Cardinals are a near deadlock? 49ers should be clearly better, and I think they’re too optimistic about the Saints, Cowboys got screwed as well

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

    Hunter, check out our discussion about all three of those teams on the Version 1 post (in both the post itself, and in the comments): 

  • Jay

    So explain to me y a team like the patriots who had a terrible defense but had Tom Brady is expected to go deep in the playoffs but a team like the Giants who have way better defense plus a QB who u can say is if not as good then almost as good but definitely as clutch in Eli is only favored to go the divisional round of the playoffs? O by the way have the momentum of winning a second superbowl in five years… What a joke. But I love the doubt. All the dummies that lost money by betting on the patriots to win the last two times they were in the big game must have drunken a lot of haterade….lololol….

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

    Jay, a few points in response…

    1. The playoff projections we listed above are more of a “for fun” thing. The real odds of any of those games happening exactly was we laid out are pretty low, since there is a lot of uncertainty in projecting something so far out in the future.

    2. A team’s playoff chances are very highly tied to their record at this point (before the season starts), since *making* the playoffs and having home field advantage once you get there is very important. And a team’s record is NOT just based on how good the tam is — schedule difficulty matters, too. The Giants have one of the toughest schedules this year, and the Patriots have one of the easiest (see the SOS Rank column above).

    3. The Patriots (with a terrible defense and Tom Brady) went 13-3 last year, while the Giants (with a better defense) went 9-7. We’re predicting them both to do about the same: 12.6 wins for the Patriots would round to 13, and 8.8 wins for the Giants would round to 9. I’m not sure I see how “about the same as last year” is that surprising or insulting.

    4. We picked the Giants against the spread and on the money line this last year in the Super Bowl: http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/matchup/giants-patriots-super-bowl-2011 … we also had them as our 5th most likely Super Bowl Champs in the pre-season, which was higher than most people.

  • Alineberger169

    Redskins and rg3 will shock the world

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

    For what it’s worth, RG3 has a slight positive impact on our Redskins projection…

  • johnny

    boring predictions….i say ravens vs bears.

  • johnny

    ravens vs bears in super bowl to clarify.

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

    Well, we’re trying to be correct, not exciting. :) … Though, we’ll probably publish some articles about our favorite sleeper picks once it gets closer to Week 1. Last year, for example, we highlighted the Broncos, 49ers, and Giants (among others): 

  • Frostysport2

    what is the sos rank

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

    SOS Rank = Strength Of Schedule Ranking

    1 is the toughest schedule, 32 is the easiest.

  • guest

    I agree with the patriots winning. They got Donte Hightower, Chandler Jones, and Alfonzo Dennard. All three were projected to be first round picks, but dennard punched a cop. Plus, Brady now has Brandon Lloyd to throw to. The patriots have gotten way better over the last season in which they went 13-3. Plus the easiest schedule with 1 hard game against the ravens and 1 mildly hard game against the broncos. 

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

    Thanks, we do think that schedule will be immensely helpful. They look to have the easiest schedule of all the AFC contenders, which gives them a leg up on home field advantage, which is pretty important in the playoffs.

  • Johnag1609

    The one thing the patriots don’t have is a real reason to win it all. I don’t agree with the Saints losing to the packers in the NFC championship for the reason that the saints have a ” Us vs. The World ” mentality and for them to show the world is to win the super bowl. Plus our new defense gives us an edge over the packers who had the similar problem as the Saints last season with a bad D. I just really want the season to start already so there’s no more speculation or controversy just wins and losses.

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

    Yeah, one thing that is basically impossible for the computer models to predict is a team’s attitude. Still, I personally think our prediction for the Saints is a bit optimistic — I’m worried that without their head coach, they may not be as “with it” as in past years. Like you said, I’m ready for the season to start, so we can find out how the team reacts to all this turmoil!

  • Blaz_n_c

    Only because the prediction of the Eagle being much better. The Cowboys at least 9 wins

  • Craig S

    The Bears were a top 5 team last year at 7-3 when Cutler went down, on a play that was completely unrelated to the offensive line play, or lack thereof.  They proceeded to lose their star RB as well, and the season went in the tank, thanks to crappy backup QB play, but they still would’ve made the playoffs if they hadn’t blown the Bronco game so badly at the end.

    So now this year, with Cutler healthy, much better backup RB and QB in place, a #1 WR and a 2nd round draft pick at WR, Carimi coming back at OL, and Martz and his 7 step drops jettisoned, the Bears finish in last?  That’s nonsense.  The Bears will be better than the Lions this year, and will push Green Bay for the division.

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

    Yes, major injuries are one of the tougher things for our models to deal with, so I would not be surprised if the Bears beat our projection. However, on the whole I believe that these projections should be useful — just as they were last season, with a very similar method: 

  • Gr91356

    idiot! a 13-3 team that was one fumble away from the super bowl and perhaps win it with a dominating defense and run game just got better in the off season and you don’t have them even making the playoffs?
    no credibility!!!


    Very interesting predictions. The only playoff team that I disagree with is NO. I can’t see them doing that well in a tough NFC conference with all of those shortcomings (no Payton, disgrunted Brees, so many distractions).

    And for those niner fans out there, I would be shocked if they did make the playoffs. Their schedule is brutal and don’t forget, you still have Alex (I’m better than Cam Newton) Smith at the helm :). I know you were one Kyle Williams away from the SB but remember this, out of the last 5 NFC Championship losers (NO, GB, AZ, MIN, CHI), only 1 team (AZ) even made the playoffs the following year.


    Sorry, I got my facts wrong below, replace AZ with PHI as the lone team making the playoffs the following year.

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

    BEASON — Thanks for having our back on the 49ers. :)

    And yeah, the Saints are definitely a very tricky team for our projections to deal with, as there are not really any past examples of their exact situation for our models to learn from. I wouldn’t be shocked if their team turmoil results in a worse performance.

  • Fanovdagame!

    Though I believe that toughness of schedule does play an important role in predicting outcome, you should also look at that team’s previous year shedule before making this determination also. Example: You use the patriots end of year record along with their current SOS ranking to dtermine where they should be placed, but that EYR for the patriots could falsely influence the prediction because their previous SOS could be low, thus allowing them to have a better record.   

  • taeinnawin

    The Bills will be a surprise team and will not finish in last place in the East.  The will probably make the play-offs this year 

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

    Fan — Don’t worry, we didn’t use the Patriots’ end of year record plus their current SOS to make the projection. We projected every team’s 2012 rating using a combination of past ratings, draft info, and current roster info, then we simulated the season using those ratings (and we threw in some randomness because our ratings aren’t perfect, ans because upsets will happen). That method gave us the projected record and the projected SOS. It’s definitely not perfect, but the potential problem you detail here shouldn’t be an issue.

  • Person

    NFC North SOS… smells fishy. Looking at you NFL.

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

    Person — There’s not really anything fishy going on. The NFL schedule is determined by a strict formula, where each division plays games against certain other divisions, and the matchups rotate each year: 

    The reason the NFC North has such an easy projected schedule this year is that its two rotating division pairings this year are the NFC West and the AFC South. Those are the divisions we project to be the weakest overall.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/B72PG3BMBAMUILWSC4WMGX6FQY seareeferd

    if anything the niners should improve , not get worse

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

    seareeferd — Check out our discussion of SF in our earlier 2012 projection post: 

  • Michael

    The Titans are under rated too much

  • Rswanson75

    Just did a quick comparison of your season win totals to the Vegas totals and I saw about 12 teams with a significant difference.

    Carolina        6.3 vs 8
    Chicago        7.1 vs 9
    Cleveland     6.5 vs 5.5
    Dallas           6.8 vs 9
    G. Bay          10.9 vs 12
    Houston        8.4 vs 10.5
    Indy              7.1 vs 5
    K. C.             6.2 vs 8
    Miami           8.3 vs 7
    Minn             7.2 vs 6
    S. F.              7.4 vs 10
    S. L.              5 vs 6

    Vegas numbers are second.  Are you going to do a follow up write up on your numbers vs the Vegas line and do you have how you did vs the line last year just for comparison.

    Thanks again for all the great data and keep up with the great work!

  • Dbass92768

    Tom Brady will play like a man on a mission this season ! The Pats defense will turn it around and be in the top 10 ! Look out NFL Brady is going to break the touchdown and passing records and will be the MVP !!!!!!!

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

    Rswanson — We will *probably* do a post comparing our predictions to the Vegas lines once we get closer to the start of the season (and rosters become set). As for our performance last year, we did a brief review at the end of last season: 

  • Jdw

    Using this the Rams would have two top-5 picks in the 2013 Draft…

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

     Wow, that could make for one of the best drafts ever … or the biggest bust draft if they don’t pick well. :)

  • Guest

    NFC West                                     AFC West
    49ers:12-4                                     Broncos:12-4                                                                                                        Seahawks:8-8                                Chargers:9-7Rams:6-10                                     Raiders:8-8Cardinals:4-12                                Chiefs:3-13                                                                                                 NFC East                                      AFC EastEagles:13-3                                   Patriots:11-5                                                                                                                Cowboys:9-7                                  Jets:10-6Giants:8-8                                      Bills:7-9Redskins:6-10                                Dolphins:4-12NFC North                                      AFC NorthPackers:11-5                                  Ravens:13-3Lions:9-7                                        Steelers:10-6Vikings:6-10                                   Bengals:7-9Bears:5-11                                     Browns:4-12NFC South                                     AFC SouthBuccaneers:11-5                             Texans:11-5Panthers:10-6                                 Jaguars:7-9                             Falcons:9-7                                     Colts:6-10 Saints:8-8                                       Titans:5-11#1Eagles                                       #1Ravens#249ers                                         #2Broncos#3Buccaneers                                #3Texans#4Packers                                     #4Patriots#5Panthers                                    #5Steelers#6Lions                                         #6Jets

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

     Guest — Thanks, it’s nice to see somebody else’s full take, rather than just hearing about one specific team.

    As a Chiefs fan, though, I hope you’re way off!

  • bill

    i think you are vastly underestimating the off season player aquisitions by the buffalo bills

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

     Bill — non-QB free agent signings are one of the toughest things for us to account for, so you may be right. However, I should point out that this is the exact same thing people said last year about the Eagles, who made similarly high-profile defensive signings. While they were definitely improved, they weren’t the world-beaters many assumed they’d become. I am a bit suspicious that something similar could happen to Buffalo. It’s tough to project how a defensive player’s output will change once he moves to a new team & system. Still, on your overall point, you could be right.

  • Greengold172

    Is this my brother Jeff. I say Packers will loose 1 again this year but will be Super Bowl champs. No 19-0

  • guest

    this list didnt get any better 2 weeks later bears will win 11+ games this year they vastly improved in all 3 phases of the game and were viable superbowl contenders a year ago before the injury bug bit them.  How this idiot has them being worse is beyond me you must be a packer fan

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

    As far as I know, the computer algorithm that produced these predictions is not a Packers fan. :) … Major injuries are definitely going to be a blind spot for the system; the Bears may very well be underrated.

  • Dom

    saints in the playoffs is outrageous….niners not making the playoffs is even worse. Packers vs. Broncos Super Bowl and the Packers win it all. Sadly….im an eagles fan

  • Jasperthedog

    were are the raiders

  • Fezzik

    Forecasting sites almost always make the mistake of operating in a Vacuum.  They run their models, they spit out the results.

    The NFL season wins market is pretty mature right now (Pinnaclesports.com, etc).   It is beyond naive to think ones forecasts are light years better than the book that is allowing every sharp in the world to bet vs. them (no squares are betting right now).   A good compromise is to weight one’s forecasts at no more than 50% (and  likely lower!) vs. the sports betting marketplaces.  

    So the betting markets have SF at 10.1 wins (OV 10-120, UN 10 +100).   If you have them at (gulp) 7.4, make the number 9.2 or something like it……

    It’s beyond arrogant to think an outlier of 3 games is correct.   Anyone who could bet the 49ers OV 7.5, etc. would anhilate you if you set up a book.

    Bottom line, your SF UN 10.5 bets likely will show a + profit on 3 game deviations, but you will find you are winning by spotting games off by 1/2 game or so, 3 game differences simply don’t exist in today’s semi efficient market.

  • R1bry

    Buffalo finishes behind the Jets…..AND DOLPHINS?  Through the first 5 weeks last season the Bills put up gaudy numbers.  Fred Jackson was leading the league in rushing and I’m pretty sure Fitzpatrick had the highest QB rating.  Injuries demolished this team on both sides of the ball.  The Bills tasted a bit of early success and they are returning the same “HEALTHY” team this year.  Oh yeah, forgot about adding Mario and Gilmore.  This team is going to be tough if they stay healthy.  

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

    R1bry — This is one of the most common pitfalls encountered when projecting the NFL by “feel”. You look at your favorite team and see some key injuries and some new draft talent, and you see how having those players healthy next year will improve your squad.

    However, EVERY team in the NFL suffered injuries last year, and every team added new young talent through the draft. Yes, the Bills suffered slightly more from the injury bug than average (but not a huge amount more, see 
    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2012/2011-adjusted-games-lost). And based on his draft position, Gilmore is only slight above the average 1st round pick. (But our models have found first round non-QB picks to rarely make a huge impact). But these factors generally have less impact than fans think, simply because there will be more injuries next year.

    I will give you the Mario Williams point. Our models do not take into account defensive free agents. However, this worked to our advantage last year when everyone anointed the Eagles as frontrunners after their defensive signings, only to see them struggle to coalesce into a winning unit.

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

    The formatting is screwed up in that Guest post, but looks like he has them at 8-8.

  • Tom (TeamRankings)

    Fezzik – thanks for the insightful comments. It’s always refreshing to get strong and reasoned feedback, versus a lot of the unsubstantiated drivel that can show up in these parts.

    You’re correct that the numbers above are the result of a purely algorithmic model that operates in a “vacuum” as far as awareness of the current Vegas numbers are concerned. But we respectfully disagree that we should artificially fudge the biggest outliers compared to where the market currently stands, for several reasons.

    First, the preseason NFL win totals market is probably one of the more inefficient markets out there, especially in contrast to individual game lines. As compared to betting individual games, there’s much less reason to believe that a well programmed supercomputer can’t outperform the market long-term at projecting season win totals before the season even starts.

    Second, it’s all about analytical tradeoffs. With any data-driven system of this nature, you get the benefit of much more sophisticated analysis of the hard data than I would bet even most sharps are doing today. The tradeoff is of total ignorance of the “intangibles” that a “market” (sort of) driven system like the Vegas lines probably do at least an OK job of assessing. The likely result is that a couple numbers every year — especially in odd cases like the Niners in 2012, with their huge positive turnover margin during the last season, uncertainty over whether Harbaugh’s rookie year was more of a fluke or a sign of dominating greatness to come, significant personnel changes in the offseason, etc. — could be significantly off from the current Vegas prices.

    Does that mean we should totally discount or fudge the biggest outliers? Not necessarily. Because third, it turns out that one of your points above [“A good compromise is to weight one’s forecasts at no more than 50% (and  likely lower!) vs. the sports betting marketplaces”] is actually quite false, at least as far as our predictions are concerned. In fact, our projections *were* better than mature win totals lines last year. Linked in our intro to this post is an article where we examined how our projections did last year, our first year doing these, compared to Pinnacle (lines taken from the days that we posted preseason picks): http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/2011-nfl-preseason-projections-review-our-division-futures-picks-would-have-doubled-your-bankroll

    If you read that post, you’ll see that in four out of five games where our projected win total differed from Pinnacle by two or more, our predictions were closer than Pinny’s. If you then use linear regression to find the optimal ratio of TR & Pinnacle predictions across the entire range of win totals for all teams, you find the “best” weighting is 0.73*TR + 0.27*Pinnacle. Now, one year is obviously a small sample size, so we’ll see how results play out over time. Are we really three times as good as the lines at projecting win totals, like we were last year? Probably not, but then again, we can’t necessarily prove that yet either. Do we believe that based on all of our back testing and performance last year that these projections may have significant predictive ability, and there is value in publishing them as-is, outliers and all? Yes.

    Your suggestion about the proposed “compromise” is relevant though, as in our single game prediction models during the season, we do actually incorporate current Vegas odds into the models as inputs, to help value factors that our historical data sets don’t cover. But that’s primarily because at this point, we believe individual game markets are much more efficient, and our relative analytical edge versus other sharps and market players is lower than for win totals. Maybe that will change in the future, but last year at least, the “market blind” approach for our win totals projections worked out. Take it for what it is at this point.

    To conclude, do we generally agree that data from algorithmic models should be viewed more as a starting point than a final answer when it comes to sports markets? Usually, because historical data availability kind of sucks compared to other markets (e.g. the stock market), and most popular betting markets are pretty darn efficient. But maybe not in this case. It’s not that we’re arrogant or naive; if you knew us, or even just read more of the site, I don’t think you’d come to that conclusion. We’re pretty darn realistic. It’s just that at this point, there’s really no evidence that says our methodology is way off here, just because you see one or two predictions that make you scratch your head. Plus, that’s kind of the fun part too!

  • Lonnie Teragawa

    You know something? So many people write off the old-school teams, but yet aren’t they the ones with all of the rings? And what about Detroit, Houston, Buffalo and Kansas City? Don’t forget them. Who even knows? If my Steelers don’t make it I believe the Chiefs could. How about that? And for the Patriots? They got stung again by the Giants and Eli not once but twice. I believe their era of dominance is over. No one is afraid of them anymore are they? Too many new threats have popped up in the league for them to be considered a reigning team. And New Orleans? Come on–please. When you have the two biggest young threats in Detroit and Houston on the rise does that not complicate things? And Dallas in there? They always beat themselves and ain’t done nothing since the 1990’s have they? They are a joke and will continue to be so until they can shake things up and start over.Buffalo could be good just as well and don’t forget Cincinnati. Also don’t count out Baltimore. Oakland will get there, but I do still have a lot of doubts about them defensively. They give up too many chunks of yardage against key teams in key situations. If they could stop that and when the playoff pressure is on turn it up like the Raiders of old, then they may just return as that team people used to fear playing. One team to always fear is Pittsburgh though. They have the highest winning percentage since 1970 than any other team in professional sports, and that includes even the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and all baseball and hockey teams even. it is over .730 percent. That is amazing isn’t it? And Philly a threat? Please, if they don’t fall apart. And they will never win a Super Bowl because there are too many teams that would have something to say about that in their way. Washington will most likely win out there because right now who else is there save the Giants? And don’t count on them because of the offsesaon okay? Superbowl 47: either Pittsburgh or Kansas City against  Detroit or San Francisco okay? I will pick Detroit and Pittsburgh right now. And you? 

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

    Lonnie — Lots to digest here! If we’re forced to pick the Super Bow now, we’d have to go with Patriots vs. Packers, but we’d put the odds of that at only around 1 in 10, so chances are we’ll be wrong.

    As a Chiefs fan, I would be SHOCKED is they made the Super Bowl. I’d be THRILLED if they even made the playoffs. But I hope you’re right!

  • Jeeeez

    Wow. 7 wins for SF

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

    Jeeeez — Check out our discussion of the 49ers in our original post. This explains why they are rated so low by our model: 

    I agree that 7.4 wins seems low, but I do think our prediction is probably *directionally* accurate, compared to the Vegas markets. I’ve seen them as the Super Bowl favorites at one or two sportsbooks, which frankly seems just as ridiculous. … Unless you think Alex Smith is making “The Leap” this year.

  • jon

    are you kidding me!!! 49ers are winning the divison for sure.

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

    Jon — Yeah, that definitely seems to be most people’s main issue with these projections, and it is one that I’m a bit surprised at. But I will say there is no such thing as a playoff lock in the NFL.

  • NY_G_MEN ARE #1

    The NY G MEN are going to repeat,
    never count them out!!!!!!!!!!

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

    Wouldn’t be a total surprise — 4% Super Bowl odds aren’t 0%! :)

  • Scottyr_813

    i think this is completely wrong about the buccaneers. 6-9 ? no, not with the off-season they have had this year picking up Vincent Jackson with good hands and hard hitting mark baron in the draft from bama. not to mention the new disciplinary head coach Greg Schiano. and with the saints drama going on, i think we will be right behind falcons all year for 1st in the division, if not, then in first. we will make wild card playoffs. and from there, playoffs are unpredictable.

  • Aceupthesleeve13

    Yeah the biggest mistake I saw from the site was the cards over the niners in the nfc west. I also got chicago over the vike’s…id like to put em ahead of the lions, but I think they’re another solid reciever away from that. I do like the eagles to come out strong this year too. I like buffalo over miami for sure, chad johnson wont mean that much lol, especially with bum after bum a behind center. Id also give houston at least nine wins. They’re better than an 8-8 team. And im from kc, but im a die hard denver fan, I believe denver takes the west. BUT, kansas city is all the way healthy this year with a pretty good lookin defense, and a tight end that is pretty underrated. Id give them an extra win , maybe two…

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

    Ace — Yeah, the 49ers prediction looks jarring, but there is pretty ample evidence that extreme turnover differentials like the 49ers had last year generally crash back to a nearer-average level the next season. Here’s a good article about it: 

    And, I’m from Kansas, so also pretty familiar with KC (and anti-Denver). I just don’t see KC challenging for the division. An extra win or two is definitely possible. I mean, look at our playoff odds — we give them a 15% chance, which means our projections say there is about a 1 in 6 chance they go something like 9-7. The NFL is a sport with a super short season, and a lot of luck involved, so no team’s future is set in stone.

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

    Scotty — I think we’ve addressed this elsewhere in the discussion thread, but in the past, non-QB first round picks haven’t make a *predictable* difference in a team’s overall performance. Generally, picks from a few years ago are more important, as they mature and get some experience.

    That said, it’s basically impossible for a data-based model to predict how the Saints will react to their turmoil, so that’s a big wild card that could significantly help the Bucs.

  • Scottyr_813

    so josh freeman losing 20 pounds this year, positive or negative thing ?

  • John

    I wonder if you are being a little cautious when it comes to KC, and possibly not wanting to look like a homer. Vegas has them around 8 wins, you have them around 6, which is a pretty big difference statistically speaking. I see that division as being a lot more up for grabs than you have it, perhaps with Denver being slightly ahead of the rest…..if anything I think KC is one of those teams that is under rated this season. I would be all over a 6 , if I could put money down on that number…….8 seems much more reasonable , and even then I would take the over, if forced to choose. Cool site though! I just wanted to say that I think you are wrong about KC! I know you’ll be happy if that turns out to be true, hahaha….

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

    No clue, and definitely not something that will be a factor in our models. There’s an interesting movement in baseball to track the performance of players that claim to have gained weight, lost body fat, or be “in the best shape of my life”. It turns out that these claims don’t seem to be useful in predicting whether a player will do better or worse the next season: 

    Now, I’m not saying you’d get the same result in football. Football is much more physical, and less based on fine motor skills (though that’s probably not as true for quarterbacks), so improving your conditioning probably makes more of a difference. But I’m sure you can’t simply assume that a player who loses weight or gains muscle will definitely do better the next season.

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

    John — These predictions are entirely based on mathematical models, and there is no subjective adjustment that goes into them. So I can assure you, me being a KC fan makes absolutely zero difference in what their projection is.

    Also, check out our KC team projection page: http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/team/kansas-city-chiefs/projections In the record forecast section, notice that their 90th percentile “Miracle” projection is 10 wins, and their 10th percentile “Meltdown” projection is 3 wins. So even though the average is 6, they are about as likely to win FOUR MORE than that as they are to win THREE LESS. So, there is a bit more upside from 6 than there is downside.

    Still, yeah, you are right, I’d be happy if they beat our projections this season. :)

  • Someduude

    Does nobody take into the possibility of massive upsets. The Seahawks knocked off the Superbowl champs in the deep season. The giants took out new England. And also every stacked team we(Seahawks and the 12th man) put the hurt to every playoff team we played last year. I think the Seahawks get their revenge against peavy and his Steelers in 2012. I’m just saying..

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

    Someduude — Yep, the fact that upsets happen does seem to be under-appreciated when people make their preseason predictions. Not here, though. Our season simulations take into account that no game is a lock, and upsets do happen in our sims. I mean, check out the Seahwaks — we’ve got them with about a 1% chance to win the Super Bowl. I bet most people would give them a 0% chance.

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting and cool stuff. Just out of curiosity, you mentioned that previous seasons factor into your projections. How exactly do you take those into accounts. And if you use stats such as wins, do you go by record or by Pythagorean wins?

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

    Dave — We use power ratings from previous years, along with a couple team stats. Here’s a more thorough description: 

  • Boarsky1

    This does appear to be a bit off…i dont see the girls in San Fran getting worse or Chicago laying down to Minn-a-soda.  The Lions will win in Lambeau this year…and they’ll win the NFC North.  Rogers lost his Mojo when they did the biggest dumbass move all year, sitting him the whole game against the lions so he could watch his back up break a few GB records…nice move GB.  Way to keep his head in it for the suckie Giants.  Really?  the Giants????  San Fran and Detroit in the finals, with San Fran winning but losing in the big game to the Pats. 

    bon appetite. 

  • Doylecollett

    Really, you have the Vikings finishing over the Chicago Bears? That’s just plain ignorance Bears are going to contend for the division crown, and I have the Lions at 8-8.

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

    Boarsky — Thanks for the feedback. Our predictive model definitely doesn’t take into account stuff like Rodgers’ mojo. If he collapses this year, we’ll be off on the Packers. Let’s just say I have doubts about whether that’s something you predict based off of a good game from his backup, though. :) 

    As for the 49ers, I think we’ve addresses them plenty in this thread. They’re the biggest disagreement that most people have, but there are definitely some strong indicators that they may have overperformed last year.

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

    Doyle — I think there’s a wide range of plausible values for both those teams (that’s true for all teams, really). For example, check out Boarsky’s comment directly below this one. He has the Lions making the NFC Championship game.

    And, remember, our projections are entirely data-based. So, technically, the model is “ignorant” of a lot of things (coaching changes and defensive free agents probably being the most important of those). That’s a negative, but one positive is that the model generally does a better job of valuing the things it *does* know about — that’s how it was able to do so well last season: http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/2011-nfl-preseason-projections-review-our-division-futures-picks-would-have-doubled-your-bankroll

  • guest

    NFC East – Philly(11-5), Giants(9-7), Skins(8-8), Dallas(7-9)
    NFC North – Green Bay(12-4), Lions(11-5), Bears(8-8), Vikings(6-10)
    NFC West – 49ers(11-5), Seattle(8-8), Arizona(7-9), St. Louis(5-11)
    NFC South – Saints(11-5), Atlanta(10-6), Carolina(7-9), Tampa(6-10)

    AFC East – Patriots(12-4), Bills(9-7), Jets(7-9), Dolphins(7-9)
    AFC North – Ravens(11-5), Bengals(10-6), Steelers(9-7), Browns(5-11)
    AFC West –  Kansas City(9-7), Denver(9-7), San Diego(7-9), Oakland(6-10)
    AFC South – Houston(10-6), Tennessee(8-8), Indy(7-9), Jacksonville(6-10)

    NFC – 1. Green Bay 2. 49ers 3. Saints 4. Philly ; Wild Card – 1. Lions 2. Atlanta 
    AFC – 1. Patriots 2. Ravens 3. Houston 4. KC ; Wild Card – 1. Bengals 2. Bills 

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

    guest — Cool, thanks for posting your predictions. It’ll be fun at the end of the year to come back and check out how they do. Overall, not a lot there I disagree with … though as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m a KC fan, and would be very pleasantly surprised if they came out of the AFC West.

  • j.sully

    AFC East – New England 13-3  New York 10-6  Miami 8-8  Buffalo 6-10
    AFC North – Baltimore 14-2   Pittsburgh 11-5   Cincinnati 9-7   Cleveland 5-11
    AFC South – Houston 9-7   Indianapolis 8-8   Tennesssee 7-9   Jacksonville 6-10
    AFC West – Denver 10-6    San Diego 9-7   Oakland 6-10   Kansas City 5-11

    NFC East – Philadelphia 13-3   Dallas 11-5   New York 10-6  Washington 7-9
    NFC North – Green Bay 13-3   Detroit 10-6   Chicago 9-7   Minnesota 6-10
    NFC South – New Orleans 11-5  Atlanta 9-7  Tampa Bay 8-8   Carolina 6-10
    NFC West – San Francisco 10-6   Arizona 8-8   Seattle 7-9   St. Louis 5-11

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

    j.sully — Cool, thanks for leaving your full picks. If we get a bunch more of these, maybe we can do a review of our reader projections at the end of the year!

  • David Chevron

     j.sully: I know you are probably just doing this for fun, but you have 279 wins and 201 losses. For your predictions to make sense, there must be 240 wins and 240 losses. This is not even close to possible.

  • David Chevron

     I mean 256* not 240

  • Baba O’Reilly

    I’m definitely shocked you only have the Bears at 7 wins. They have one of the softest schedules, best defenses and a revamped offense.
    I see at least 10 wins, and see them pushing hard for a Superbowl berth.
    Was there any rationale (aside from the algorithms) as to their 7 win total?

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

    Baba — These are 100% algorithmic, so there’s only the reasons contained in the algorithms. Here is a brief overview of the process from last season:


    This season, we added info on starting QBs (this is especially helpful for, say, the Broncos and Colts). While the Bears do get a slight boost for that, to help account for Cutler’s injury last year, keep in mind that Cutler got 2/3 of Chicago’s pass attempts last year, so it won’t be a huge adjustment to have a full season of Cutler.

    Other than that, I think the main reasons for the low Bears projection are that a “revamped offense” is not really accounted for at all (only QB free agents change the projections), and last season’s injuries are not treated as any different from any other teams injuries (aside from Cutler).

  • crud

    Is strength of schedule #1 the hardest schedule?

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


  • Football God

    Wow I think whoever made this highly underestimates the 49ers. Going into Green Bay and stomping them on the season opener. New Orleans is going nowhere without their coach, the Falcons will do far better and the Bills are underestimated. No way the Patriots are making the Super Bowl again.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com TeamRankings.com

    I suggest you read the update to this post, plus explore the related blog posts over the past few months in the “NFL” category of our blog. They’ll give you some more insight into how we project teams in the preseason.

    Also, keep in mind this article was published in April. Our final preseason projections are here:


    And our latest projections, which update daily, are here:


    We may well end up being wrong on one or more of those teams, which we expect to happen every year. By the same token, you’re drawing a lot of bold conclusions after only two games have been played.

  • 691

    PATRIOTS! yeyuhh!