Running the Numbers: Are Preseason Wins Important?
Over at DallasCowboys.com, I took a look at the importance of preseason wins for the Cowboys and NFL as a whole. It turns out that teams that win in the preseason do see more success in the regular season.
The question is whether the increased wins that come after a strong preseason are the result of momentum, or rather the result of simply being good. If preseason success really created a momentum effect, we’d expect teams to “start hot” in the regular season.
I tracked the first quarter of each regular season for the 22 teams that have won four preseason games over the past decade. During that time, the most successful of all preseason teams have compiled a combined record of just 43-45 during the first four games of the regular season. Those numbers suggest there isn’t too much momentum involved with winning in the preseason.
For the Cowboys, the results are pretty clear; there’s no reason to go out of your way to win preseason games. Don’t show opponents anything unique, don’t play starters longer than necessary, and focus primarily on evaluating young talent.