Monday, September 5, 2011

Projected 2011 NFL Team Standings - Nerd Style

As I sat down to think about projecting the season for the NFL teams I started thinking about each team's offseason moves and how the lockout affected things.  But then I thought about how every season's standings seem more based on random events than anything else. 

Each year there are teams that you expect to be good that end up being good.  And each year there are teams that you expect to be bad that end up being bad.  But most teams are surprises, for better or worse.   

So I decided to project the 2011 standings and playoffs with nothing more than an Excel spreadsheet.  It certainly took less work than studying all of the teams.  And I want to look back at these after the season is over and compare to the projections from experts nationwide.

Jump with me to see how the =randbetween() function thinks the season will turn out.

Some notes on these "projections."

1. I factored in homefield advantage.  Since 2002, home teams have a .572 winning percentage.  So Excel factored that in.  What I did NOT do was use a team-specific home field advantage.  I just wanted a simple average from across the league.  Partly to make this as random as possible, and partly because I was too lazy to think about how to incorporate team specific home field advantages.

2. I set up my formulas and when ready to run, I just held down the F9 button to calculate the formulas a bunch of times.  This was my way to "jumble the bag."  I then hit F9 one more time to get my results.  Of course it's not scientific.  That was the point.  I'm also aware that I could have built a macro to automate that process, but that was more work than it was worth.

So, without further ado, here is your guide to the 2011 NFL season.  Take it to Vegas.

Playoff teams in bold

<><><><> <><><><><><><><> <><><><><><><><> <><><><><><><><> <><><><>
New York97New England97
Philadelphia 7 9 Buffalo 7 9
Dallas 6 10 Miami 6 10
Washington 6 10 New York 6 10
Green Bay 8 8 Baltimore 8 8
Minnesota 6 10 Cincinnati 8 8
Chicago 4 12 Cleveland 8 8
New Orleans115Houston106
Tampa Bay106 Indianapolis 8 8
Carolina 8 8 Jacksonville 6 10
Atlanta 7 9 Tennessee 5 11
San Francisco115San Diego124
Seattle106Kansas City106
St Louis 7 9 Oakland97
Arizona 5 11 Denver 5 11

So there you have it.  If some of these teams actually finished this way it wouldn't be too surprising.  A 12-4 Pittsburgh team?  Sure.  Also, if you think about it, would the Texans finishing 10-6 and making the playoffs be that big of a surprise?  Not really.  Detroit at 12-4 and with the #1 seed would definitely be a surprise.

The playoff seedings are like this:

1. Detroit
2. San Francisco
3. New Orleans
4. New York
5. Tampa Bay
6. Seattle

1. Pittsburgh
2. San Diego
3. Houston
4. New England
5. Kansas City
6. Oakland (blame Excel, not me)

And now for the playoffs:

Wild Card Round
Seattle at New Orleans - Winner: New Orleans
Tampa Bay at New York Giants - Winner: Tampa Bay

Oakland at Houston - Winner: Houston
Kansas City at New England - Winner: Kansas City

Divisional Round
Tampa Bay at Detroit - Winner: Detroit
New Orleans at San Francisco - Winner: San Francisco

Kansas City at Pittsburgh - Winner: Pittsburgh
Houston at San Diego - Winner: San Diego

Man, that was kinda boring.  All teams with the bye won.  Oh well.

Conference Championship
San Francisco at Detroit - Winner: Detroit
San Diego at Pittsburgh - Winner: San Diego

Super Bowl
The Super Bowl will be all about Matthew Stafford's Arrival, and we will get plenty of overtalking Phillip Rivers.  But in the end, your Super Bowl XLVI Champion will be....

The Detroit Lions. 

Whatever happens, it's just great to have football back.  Enjoy Week 1 everybody!


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