Official 2012 NFL Projected Standings: Records & Division Win Odds For All Teams

posted in NFL

The 2012 NFL season kicks off Wednesday with the Dallas Cowboys at the New York Giants. Team rosters were finalized and published this week, and starting quarterbacks were named, which allowed us to finish crunching the numbers on our final, official 2012 NFL season projections.

Last year, our inaugural 2011 NFL preseason projections proved overall to be successful, especially if your goal was to unearth some value in Vegas futures odds and win totals. We’ve made some incremental improvements to the prediction logic in the off-season, so we’re eager see what happens this year.

How We Make NFL Predictions

Before we delve into the numbers, here’s a quick primer on how the sausage gets made. These projections are the result of a two step process. First, we combine team ratings from the past few years with other info like the players drafted in high rounds recently, who the team’s starting quarterback is, and what kind of turnover luck the team had last year. This gives us our 2012 NFL preseason team ratings.

Then, we use those ratings to simulate the season thousands of times, and we report the average results below. So these projections are based on cold, hard facts, not on our subjective opinions. If you’re curious for a few more details, you might want to check out these posts on our preseason ratings methodology and our season simulation process.

2012 NFL Standings Projections

And now, the part you’ve all come here to see. Full standings projections for the NFL are listed in the table below, and also on our NFL projections page, which is updated daily throughout the season.

TeamRankings Official 2012 NFL Projected Standings
AFC EAST
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SBTR RankSOS
New England12.63.489.2%70.9%44.3%25.4%1-0.6
NY Jets8.97.141.1%12.7%5.2%2.6%100.3
Miami8.47.633.7%9.7%3.7%1.6%14-0.1
Buffalo7.98.125.7%6.7%2.1%1.0%16-0.1
AFC NORTH
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SBTR RankSOS
Pittsburgh10.45.666.4%46.2%13.3%8.2%20.4
Baltimore9.66.455.2%34.9%9.3%5.8%61.2
Cincinnati7.58.526.2%12.4%2.5%1.1%150.8
Cleveland6.59.514.3%6.6%0.7%0.4%211.2
AFC SOUTH
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SBTR RankSOS
Houston8.47.646.7%41.3%3.3%2.1%130.3
Tennessee7.38.731.9%26.2%1.8%1.0%170.5
Indianapolis7.18.928.2%23.5%1.6%0.6%20-0.1
Jacksonville5.210.811.0%9.0%0.4%0.1%310.5
AFC WEST
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SBTR RankSOS
Denver9.16.951.2%41.5%6.2%3.5%70.6
San Diego8.67.444.2%33.5%3.8%2.3%110.2
Oakland6.89.220.0%14.6%1.1%0.5%220.3
Kansas City6.29.815.0%10.4%0.8%0.3%250.5
NFC EAST
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SBTR RankSOS
Philadelphia10.55.572.1%56.0%18.1%9.7%40.0
NY Giants8.87.246.1%27.5%7.5%3.6%90.7
Dallas6.89.221.2%10.1%1.6%0.7%190.6
Washington6.19.914.0%6.4%0.7%0.3%280.6
NFC NORTH
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SBTR RankSOS
Green Bay11.05.076.5%53.4%23.8%10.2%5-1.3
Detroit9.76.357.7%30.6%11.6%4.7%8-1.1
Minnesota7.38.724.4%8.5%2.0%0.6%23-1.3
Chicago7.18.921.5%7.5%2.0%0.5%24-1.2
NFC SOUTH
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SBTR RankSOS
New Orleans10.75.375.1%59.9%19.8%10.0%3-0.5
Atlanta8.77.347.0%26.8%6.0%2.9%12-0.2
Carolina6.39.715.6%6.6%1.0%0.3%290.0
Tampa Bay6.29.814.7%6.6%0.8%0.3%30-0.1
NFC WEST
TeamWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SBTR RankSOS
San Francisco7.58.541.4%37.1%2.3%1.1%18-0.3
Seattle6.89.231.2%27.1%1.5%0.5%27-0.9
Arizona6.69.428.2%24.4%1.2%0.5%26-0.1
St Louis5.110.913.3%11.5%0.2%0.1%32-0.6

Projection Highlights for 2012

San Francisco 49ers Expected To Get Worse But Still Win NFC West. We discussed why the 49ers are projected to decline this season in our 2012 NFL preseason team ratings post, but a quick summary is that A) their high turnover margin from 2011 is unlikely to be repeated, and B) most drastic single-year improvements (like they had last season) don’t last. Still, the rest of the NFC West is still the NFC West, so the 49ers remain our favorites to win the division.

The AFC East Is Like Lake Wobegon. All the teams are above average, that is. The AFC East’s worst team is Buffalo, who are 16th in our preseason rankings. Despite being in a tough division, the Patriots are expected to run away with it, as their projected 3.7-win margin over the runner up Jets is the largest of any division leader.

The New York Giants Only Have A 4% Chance To Repeat As Super Bowl Champs. The Patriots are the Super Bowl favorites, with a 1 in 4 shot. Following New England are Green Bay (10.2%), New Orleans (10.0%), Philadelphia (9.7%), and Pittsburgh (8.2%), Baltimore (5.8%), and Detroit (4.7%). Then we reach the Giants at 3.6%.

The Northeast Is Better Than The Southwest. Every East or North division is projected to have more wins, higher Wild Card odds, and higher Super Bowl win odds than any South or West division. Our estimate is that there is about a 75% chance the Super Bowl winner comes from a division named East or North.

Which of our predictions do you agree or disagree with? What’s most surprising? Have any questions? Ask away in the comment section below, and we’ll try to reply to as many people as possible.

  • Derek

    My Rams at 5-11?? Are you crazy?? What are you thinking??…oh wait..yeah 5-11 sounds about right :)

  • Aaron

    The one I would disagree with most is Miami having 8 wins. I have a hard time seeing them winning even 5 games.

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

    Ha! You had me there for a second. I was already mentally composing an argument for why the Rams will be bad. Of course, it was basically just “Did you watch last season???”

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

    Yeah, we’ve gotten several Twitter comments about Miami’s projection. I think the main reason our preseason ratings are optimistic about the Dolphins is that our *2011* ratings actually saw them as a decent team, even though they went only 6-10. They outscored their opponents last season, despite facing a very tough schedule, and ended up 12th in our ratings. So, we actually have them getting a bit worse this year — but with an easier schedule, and with more talent than their record indicated last season, they end up getting projected with 8 wins.

    So, I can understand being a tad pessimistic about the Dolphins, but 5 wins? We’ve got them with only a 6% chance to win less than 5. And their win total over-under for the season at Pinnacle is 7.5. So, I think even for somebody who is down on the Dolphins, you may be lowballing them. Remember, they get to play the NFC West this year. :)

  • Carlos

    Eagles will probably win the NFC East…IF Vick doesn’t get hurt…which is a VERY BIG IF..

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

    Yep, our projections are one the exact same page as you. But Vick’s health is a pretty big Wild Card.

  • JoeP

    Couple of notes:
    1) Arizona with only 6-7 wins, they play pretty well at home and I think they could even take one from the 49ers, Skelton is better than Kolb who is hilariously overrated and has been his whole career. I have AZ going with 8-9 wins and challenging for that division.

    2) Vikings ahead of the Bears? Not sure if I follow that, would love to hear your reasoning more in depth.

    3) Love the Dallas call for 6-7 wins this year, I think it is dead on.

    4) Hate the Colts call for 7 wins this year… not a chance, rookie QB and rookie head coach with a bad line and terrible defense… 3-4 wins more likely.

    5) Also, Jets with 9 wins? Rex Ryan has regressed three seasons in a row, he is not a good coach, their offense finds ways to lose them games and will continue to do so. That team is set for internal destruction. I have them winning 6-7 games.

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

    1) We’re more with you than against you on Arizona. We have them with a roughly 1 in 4 shot to win the division, which is much higher than what’s implied by the Vegas future odds. That’s why they were one of our highlighted futures picks here:
    http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/2012-nfl-futures-value-picks-for-super-bowl-winner-other-playoff-odds

    2) It’s mostly about our preseason ratings having a very low opinion of the Bears, compared to the consensus. A longer explanation is here, but the main point is that they had a couple empty draft classes that ought to be maturing now, and they were pretty terrible after Cutler went down last year — worse than you’d expect just based on their injuries: http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/official-2012-nfl-preason-rankings-new-england-patriots-1-by-a-mile#comment-638197400

    3) Thanks! Nice to hear some agreement on some of these.

    4) Our projections don’t take into account coaching changes. That’s one thing we need to add next year. But we do rate quarterbacks, and Luck is projected to be better than what they had at the position last year. The ratings also expect them to have a bit better turnover luck this year.

    5) Hmm, interesting way to phrase the Jets’ rating history. That is actually a *positive* for our model, because it the team has been good in the recent past. … I just took a look at the past data. Of the last 10 teams whose TR power rating dropped by 1 to 5 points in back to back years (the Jets dropped 1.2 and 2.7 the last two years), 8 of them improved the next season, and the average power rating change of the 10 teams was +3 points. … So, it looks like our ratings are banking on the fact that the Jets aren’t really in a death spiral, but more of a swoon.

  • JoeP

    First of all, thanks for replying to me, this is a huge part on why I continue to use your service for NFL and NCAA tourney year in and year out.

    1) Glad to hear.

    2) That is a valid point and I will lower my rating accordingly (I also think Lovie Smith is a below average coach) and that defense is aging, so I can see your points.

    3) I agree with you guys more often than not, but realize that no model is perfect.

    4) While I do think Luck will have a better Year One out of all the rookie QB’s, I just cannot get over that passing defense and the lack of leadership on offense. I’ll take the under and politely eat my words should 7 wins turn out.

    5) Another valid point, I shall re-assess my ratings for a potential 7-9 win season for them.

    Thanks for the great service, I love it all.