Predicting Changes in the NFC East
I can’t wait to post my 2013 season predictions. Until then, here’s a little preview of how I think the NFC East teams will regress in terms of randomness:
Below, I combined the differences for all teams on both sides of the ball. The Panthers had an expected difference of 9 on offense, as you see above, and 1 on defense. That’s another way of saying that, if the Panthers play exactly the same as they did last season, they’ll probably finish close to nine spots higher in total points and one spot higher in total points allowed.
Again, we can view this as a chart for the “likelihood of improvement.” The teams at the top are most likely to improve upon their offensive and defensive ranks (and thus their records), while those at the bottom are most likely to regress.
It’s worth noting that it’s easier for some teams to improve or decline based on where they finished in 2012. The Patriots scored the most points in the NFL last year, for example, so there was no room for improvement for them in terms of expected points. They finished first in that category as well, but they couldn’t possibly have improved. That means when you see a team that was already good in 2012 listed near the top (or a team that was bad near the bottom), their fortunes are really likely to change in 2013.
Using Expected Points to Predict Changes in the NFC East
Let’s look at the expected overall change in total points scored and allowed for the teams in the NFC East:
- Eagles: 8
- Cowboys: -1
- Redskins: -4
- Giants: -11
Remember, these numbers are based solely on a regression of luck, not changes in personnel, coaching staffs or health. That’s great news for the Cowboys; despite all of their injuries in 2012, Dallas still finished 8-8. When you consider that the ’Boys are highly likely to be healthier this season, there’s a really good chance that they’ll improve upon their 8-8 record.