Thursday, October 13, 2011

NFL Teams' Best and Worst Starts Since...

There has been a lot of talk this week about how the Detroit Lions are off to their best start since 1956 and the Colts are off to their worst since 1997. This got me to thinking, how remarkable have these seasons been in comparison to other teams' starts? Is the NFL that consistent that if a team starts off really hot or cold, it is history making? I looked at the current standings and compared them to when the last time the team had that surprisingly few or high number of wins through 4-5 games (some teams have had byes already). Here is the graph with analysis afterwards:

  • Detroit is having their best season in 55 years.
  • Green Bay has not been 5-0 in 46 years as well.
  • Indy, Denver, and Philly have not started this poorly since the late 90's.
  • The other feel good stories of the season, 49ers and Raiders, are justified in their press since it has been nine seasons since they've had this good a record through five games.
While those seven teams are the extremes, the other 25 are more predictable:
  • Seven teams have the same exact record at this point last year. (The Bucs, Texans, and Giants had playoff aspirations going into this year and have the same record this point last year which they just missed the playoffs. For all the excitement and hope Cam Newton has brought the Panthers, they are 1-4 just like last year.)
  • Another seven have the same disappointment or optimism as two seasons ago. (Mediocre Dallas was also at 2-2 two years ago when they made the playoffs.)
  • Washington and Buffalo are on top of their divisions, but both had the same great start only three years ago when they each missed the playoffs.
  • Half the league's teams were just as good or just as bad at this point within the past three seasons.
I'm sure week 10 or other years might show differently, but this snapshot shows how remarkably consistent NFL teams are. Therefore, do not panic or join the bandwagon for your favorite team just yet, because your team is likely to be just where it was a couple years ago anyways.

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