For fans of advanced metrics and unorthodox ways of looking at sports, Football Outsiders is a great place to get your fix. Their annual projections are based on Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, or DVOA. The DVOA measures a team's performance on every play of the season compared to the league average in the same situation, adjusted for each opponent.
The equations include a number of variables based on performance over the past two seasons in different splits (such as passing vs. rushing, red zone vs. whole field) plus variables based on recent draft history, injury history, offensive and defensive pace, coaching experience, quarterback experience, and even weather. Strength of schedule is then figured based on the average projected total DVOA of all 16 opponents for 2013, rather than based on last year's performance.
Last year they predicted a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl match-up, and later on projected a Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl match-up before the playoffs began using in-season data. As we all know, football is unpredictable, but the folks at Football Outsiders usually do a more accurate job than most.
Let's hope they are on the money this season, as they have again projected a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl match-up. The Patriots take the No. 1 overall ranking with an offensive rank of 2nd, defensive rank of 20th, special teams rank of 2nd, and a strength of schedule rank of 17th. The Patriots have the second highest playoff odds at 86.4% (Broncos at 88.6%), and hold a 16.4% chance of winning the Super Bowl.
The Packers come in directly behind the Patriots at No. 2 with the #1 offense, #15 defense, #28 special teams, and 20th ranked strength of schedule. The Packers hold the 4th highest playoff percentage at 80.6% (behind the Patriots, Broncos, and Seahawks), but the second-best odds at winning the Super Bowl at 12.4%.
If the Football Outsiders projections on win totals were to hold true, this is what the playoff pairings would look like:
Obviously, the Panthers making the playoffs would be a bit surprising, but it seems like every year there is one or two teams that come out of no where to grab a playoff spot. If Atlanta doesn't even make the playoffs this season, Mike Smith won't be the head coach in 2014.
Redskins @ Packers
Panthers (come on!) @ Seahawks
Ravens @ Broncos
Texans @ Patriots
Packers @ Seahawks
Patriots @ Broncos
Patriots over Packers
Again, this isn't an exact science, but it's interesting to see what one of the more accurate projections forecasts for the upcoming football season.
Other interesting notes from Football Outsiders' Projections:
- The Minnesota Vikings have the lowest mean win total at 5.7
- The Detroit Lions are projected to improve by 3 or 4 wins to a possible 8-8 season.
- The Chicago Bears are projected to also finish in the 8-8 range with the #1 defense and the #30 offense.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars are ranked #32 overall with the 31st ranked offense and 30th ranked defense.
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