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Predictions: Tony Romo Will Throw 12 INTs, DeMarco Murray Will Remain Healthy

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At NBC, I’ve begun making some predictions for the Cowboys this season. One is that Tony Romo will throw 12 (or fewer) interceptions in 2013:

Romo has started games in seven NFL seasons, throwing an average of 13 interceptions per year. That number is skewed, however, since Romo didn’t play in every game in three seasons. In reality, he’s thrown 91 picks in his 93 NFL starts—0.98 per game. If we extrapolate that over a 16-game season, Romo’s average number of picks would obviously be 16.

So what makes me so confident that Romo will limit the turnovers in 2013? Well, his interception rate was really trending downward prior to last year. It was as low as 1.6 percent in 2009 and 1.9 percent in 2011—Romo’s last two full seasons prior to 2012. And Romo’s 2012 interception total of 19 was inflated by the fact that Dallas was down so often. That forced Romo to throw more passes, which will of course naturally increase his interceptions, and throw a lower quality of passes. In games like that against the Chicago Bears on Monday night, Romo tried to fit passes into tight windows in order to mount a comeback. In my opinion, he’s always been selfless like that; he’ll take the heat for throwing too many interceptions, even if the majority of them come in situations in which he could have easily tucked the ball to save his stats.

The second is that DeMarco Murray will play at least 14 games, and in all likelihood, all 16 contests:

One of the more controversial football topics—and one very relevant to the Cowboys—is the idea of injury proneness. I’m going to use DeMarco Murray as an example of why, for the most part, using past injuries to predict future ones will end up being fruitless. In doing so, my prediction is that Murray—a player who has missed nine games in two NFL seasons—will play at least 14 games in 2013.

The premise of my prediction is that the distribution of NFL injuries is primarily random. It might seem dumb, then, to try to predict something that’s random, but in any random sample, we’ll see numerous outliers who are subsequently likely to regress toward the mean. Murray is one of those outliers, i.e. his past injuries probably aren’t as good of a predictor of future ones as people believe.

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