NFL predictions - Using a teams record in one-score games to predict regular-season win totals

Joe Mixon
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Jake Apperley

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Co-founder of Pickswise. A fan of all sports with a passion for the NFL and Premier League soccer. An avid sports bettor who loves fading the public, taking ugly dogs, and the under. Go Pack Go! For Jake Apperley media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.

Now that the NFL Draft is in the books, we can focus our attention on analyzing the 2020 NFL season win totals ahead of the schedule release, rumored to be between May 7-9.

Due to the NFL season being so short, there’s a considerable amount of variance in the 16 game regular season. One play here or there, a turnover, or a blown call by a ref can often decide games. Luckily, for us as sports bettors, several underlying metrics have historically been useful in projecting whether teams are likely to improve or decline in their previous season wins. This three-part series will look at the metrics which are, one-score games, turnover margin and fumble recovery rate, and the Pythagorean Theorem.

The first part of the series is going to be looking at teams record in one-score games.

Record In One-Score Games

Teams should win around 50% of games that are decided by seven points or fewer. If a team posts a record which is severely above or below the average in those games in one season, they’ll regress to near 50 percent the following season.

Below are the teams who had extreme results in one-score games, what their 2019 record was, and what it would have been if the scores were flipped in one-score games.

2019 Underachievers

These teams should see some positive movement on their 2020 season win totals:

  • LA Chargers 5-11, one-score games flipped (12-4)
  • Cincinnati Bengals 2-14 (9-7)
  • Dallas Cowboys 8-8 (13-3)
  • Detroit Lions 3-12-1 (7-8-1)
  • Carolina Panthers 5-11 (8-8)
  • New York Giants 4-12 (7-9)
  • Cleveland Browns 6-10 (9-7)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-9 (10-6)

2019 Overachievers

These teams should see some negative movement on their 2020 season win totals:

  • Baltimore Ravens 14-2, one-score games flipped (10-6)
  • New Orleans Saints 13-3 (8-8)
  • Green Bay Packers 13-3 (8-8)
  • Seattle Seahawks 11-5  (4-12)
  • Houston Texans 10-6 (5-11)
  • New York Jets 7-9 (3-13)
  • Oakland Raiders 7-9 (4-12)

2019 One-Score Games Flipped Standings

Here’s how the full NFL standings and every teams’ record would have looked if every one-score game was flipped in 2019 (teams actual record is in parenthesis).

AFC West

Chargers 12-4 (5-11)
Chiefs 11-5 (12-4)
Broncos 7-9 (7-9)
Raiders 4-12 (7-9)

AFC East

Patriots 11-5 (12-4)
Bills 10-6 (10-6)
Jets 3-13 (7-9)
Dolphins 3-13 (5-11)

AFC North

Ravens 10-6 (14-2)
Browns 9-7 (6-10)
Bengals 9-7 (2-14)
Steelers 7-9 (8-8)

AFC South

Titans 9-7 (9-7)
Colts 8-8 (7-9)
Jaguars 7-9 (6-10)
Texans 5-11 (10-6)

49ers Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo getting the crowd pumped up.

© Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

NFC West

49ers 11-5 (13-3)
Rams 9-7 (9-7)
Cardinals 7-8-1 (5-10-1)
Seahawks 4-12 (11-5)

NFC East

Cowboys 13-3 (8-8)
Eagles 10-6 (9-7)
Giants 7-9 (4-12)
Redskins 4-12 (3-13)

NFC North

Vikings 12-4 (10-6)
Packers 8-8 (13-3)
Lions 7-8-1 (3-12-1)
Bears 5-11 (8-8)

NFC South

Buccaneers 10-6 (7-9)
Saints 8-8 (13-3)
Panthers 8-8 (5-11)
Falcons 7-9 (7-9)

2020 Season Win Totals

Patrick Mahomes holding Lamar Hunt Trophy

© Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

AFC West

Chargers 7.5
Chiefs 11.5
Broncos 7.5
Raiders 7

AFC East

Patriots 9
Bills 9
Jets 6.5
Dolphins 6

AFC North

Ravens 11
Browns 8
Bengals 5.5
Steelers 9.5

AFC South

Titans 8.5
Colts 8.5
Jaguars 5
Texans 7.5

NFC West

49ers 10.5
Rams 8
Cardinals 7
Seahawks 9

NFC East

Cowboys 9.5
Eagles 9.5
Giants 6.5
Redskins 5.5

NFC North

Vikings 9
Packers 9
Lions 7
Bears 7.5

NFC South

Buccaneers 10
Saints 10
Panthers 5.5
Falcons 7

A great starting point for us, next we need to take into account other statistical factors such as turnover margin and fumble recovery rate and the Pythagorean Theorem before wagering. We also need to look at qualitative factors such as roster changes during free agency, the NFL Draft, and scheduling spots.

Stay tuned for the next part of the series.

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