Feb 05

NFL 2013 Recap: Grading the Preseason Predictions

Looking back at our first season of NFL predictions here at TABMathletics, we can call it a general success. Looking at back the TABM 2013 NFL Preview, it’s clear that we a strong format to projecting a team’s year-to-year success based on certain factors of regression that change on a yearly basis. Today, we’ll put an overall grade to our predictions.

Below, you will see what we thought would happen compared to what really happened. We start with team-by-team predictions for the regular season standings, assessing both win projections and each team’s predicted finish.

Overall, we correctly projected the win range for 21 of the 32 NFL teams. Of the 11 misses, only three involved more than a three-game difference. Each of these three teams (Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans and Washington Redskins) suffered the rare “Minus-7” decline, in which each team declined by at least seven games in the standings. Each team is due for some regression next year.

Successful Projections
Seattle Seahawks: Projected 10-14 wins, Finished 13-3
Denver Broncos: Projected 10-13 wins, Finished 13-3
New England Patriots: Projected 10-13 wins, Finished 12-4
San Francisco 49ers: Projected 9-13 wins, Finished 12-4
New Orleans Saints: Projected 9-12 wins, Finished 11-5
Cincinnati Bengals: Projected 8-12 wins, Finished 11-5
Pittsburgh Steelers: Projected 8-11 wins, Finished 8-8
Dallas Cowboys: Projected 7-11 wins, Finished 8-8
San Diego Chargers: Projected 7-10 wins, Finished 9-7
Philadelphia Eagles: Projected 6-11 wins, Finished 10-6
Chicago Bears: Projected 6-11 wins, Finished 8-8
New York Giants: Projected 6-11 wins, Finished 7-9
St. Louis Rams: Projected 5-10 wins, Finished 7-9
Detroit Lions: Projected 6-9 wins, Finished 7-9
Miami Dolphins: Projected 5-9 wins, Finished 8-8
New York Jets: Projected 4-8 wins, Finished 8-8
Minnesota Vikings: Projected 4-8 wins, Finished 5-10-1
Buffalo Bills: Projected 4-7 wins, Finished 6-10
Tennessee Titans: Projected 3-7 wins, Finished 7-9
Jacksonville Jaguars: Projected 3-7 wins, Finished 4-12
Oakland Raiders: Projected 2-7 wins, Finished 4-12

Unsuccessful Projections
Green Bay Packers: Projected 10-14 wins, Finished 8-7-1 (1.5-game difference)
Baltimore Ravens: Projected 9-12 wins, Finished 8-8 (one-game difference)
Houston Texans: Projected 9-12 wins, Finished 2-14 (seven-game difference)
Atlanta Falcons: Projected 8-11 wins, Finished 4-12 (four-game difference)
Carolina Panthers: Projected 6-11 wins, Finished 12-4 (one-game difference)
Kansas City Chiefs: Projected 6-10 wins, Finished 11-5 (one-game difference)
Washington Redskins: Projected 6-10 wins, Finished 3-13 (three-game difference)
Indianapolis Colts: Projected 6-9 wins, Finished 11-5 (two-game difference)
Arizona Cardinals: Projected 4-9 wins, Finished 10-6 (one-game difference)
Cleveland Browns: Projected 5-8 wins, Finished 4-12 (one-game difference)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Projected 5-8 wins, Finished 4-12 (one-game difference)

Looking at our missteps overall, we only had a 65.625 percent success rate. We would definitely like to improve that by a considerable amount. Meanwhile, we fell short by 23.5 games among the 32 teams, giving us on average about a 0.73-game margin of projection error. Both areas can show improvement next year, although we probably did better than most. Grade: B-minus

We certainly did more impressive in this area. We correctly predicted the slot for 17 of the 32 NFL teams, with four of the teams being swapped on the account of division tiebreaker. The only division that featured something more than a simple spot swap was the AFC South, where the predicted divisional champion Texans ended up in dead last.

Perhaps even more impressively, we got the exact record correct for four of the eight divisional champions. We also correctly predicted the 11-5 record for the Saints, but the Panthers (a team we predicted to do better than most did) beat them out for the NFC South title. The Saints and Texans are only two misses we had among the divisional winners.

Table 1: NFL Predicted Standings v. NFL Actual Standings (2013 season)

AFC North AFC East AFC South AFC West
Predicted Actual Predicted Actual Predicted Actual Predicted Actual
Bengals 11-5 Bengals 11-5 Patriots 12-4 Patriots 12-4 Texans 10-6 Colts 11-5 Broncos 12-4 Broncos 13-3
Ravens 10-6 Steelers 8-8 Dolphins 6-10 Jets 8-8 Colts 8-8 Titans 7-9 Chargers 8-8 Chiefs 11-5
Steelers 10-6 Ravens 8-8 Jets 5-11 Dolphins 8-8 Jaguars 5-11 Jaguars 4-12 Chiefs 7-9 Chargers 9-7
Browns 6-10 Browns 4-12 Bills 5-11 Bills 6-10 Titans 3-13 Texans 2-14 Raiders 4-12 Raiders 4-12
NFC North NFC East NFC South NFC West
Predicted Actual Predicted Actual Predicted Actual Predicted Actual
Packers 12-4 Packers 8-7-1 Eagles 10-6 Eagles 10-6 Saints 11-5 Panthers 12-4 ‘Hawks 13-3 ‘Hawks 13-3
Bears 7-9 Bears 8-8 Cowboys 9-7 Cowboys 8-8 Panthers 10-6 Saints 11-5 49ers 10-6 49ers 12-4
Lions 6-10 Lions 7-9 ‘Skins 8-8 Giants 7-9 Falcons 9-7 Falcons 4-12 Rams 6-10 Cardinals 10-6
Vikings 5-11 Vikings 5-10-1 Giants 8-8 ‘Skins 3-13 Buccs 6-10 Buccs 4-12 Cardinals 4-12 Rams 7-9

NOTE: All division tiebreakers are reflected above in the standings.

Here, we see how the Five Factors of regression for each team helps to predict each season standings quite well. Our misses included six swap spots and the failed Houston Texans, all of which accounted for the 15 missed spots. Of the swaps, we originally predicted two pairs to have the same record (Ravens-Steelers and ‘Skins-Giants), three pairs to finish within a game of each other (Dolphins-Jets, Chargers-Chiefs and Saints-Panthers) and one pair to finish within two games of each other (Rams-Cardinals). In general, that is solid work, but it’s more amazing when put into the context of an unpredictable league from one year to the next. Grade: B-plus

Having correctly predicted nine of the 12 playoff teams, we should shine best in this area. We nailed the Seahawks winning Super Bowl XLVIII. We nailed seeing another Brady v. Manning match-up in the AFC Championship Game. We nailed the rise of the Eagles and Panthers into playoff form, as well as the return of the Saints to the postseason.

Successful Predictions
Seattle Seahawks: Predicted Super Bowl champions, Actual Super Bowl champions
Denver Broncos: Predicted AFC Championship Game appearance, Actual AFCCG appearance
New England Patriots: Predicted AFC Championship Game appearance, Actual AFCCG appearance
San Francisco 49ers: Predicted loss to Seahawks, Actual loss to Seahawks
Green Bay Packers: Predicted NFC North champions, Actual NFC North champions
Cincinnati Bengals: Predicted AFC North champions, Actual AFC North champions
Phiadelphia Eagles: Predicted NFC East champions, Actual NFC East champions

Nearly Successful Predictions
Carolina Panthers: Predicted loss to Eagles, Actual loss to 49ers
New Orleans Saints: Predicted loss to 49ers, Actual loss to Seahawks

Unsuccessful Predictions
Indianapolis Colts:
Predicted 8-8 season, Actual AFC South champions
San Diego Chargers: Predicted 8-8 season, Actual AFC Wild Card team
Kansas City Chiefs: Predicted 7-9 season, Actual AFC Wild Card team

This was our best section of all. It would’ve been even better if the Patriots had upset the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game. Beyond that, we’d be nitpicking at some of our postseason misses. That is unnecessary, considering that postseason success is often dictated by match-ups. We handle this part very well, and it’s best job yet. Grade: A-minus

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