Introducing Division Previews (and an explanation):
As you may know, I like to dabble in sports betting. Since I take it fairly seriously, this offseason I’m going through every team and making notes on how they performed in 2021 and noting what changes they’ve made. Since I’m gathering this information anyway, I figure I might as well turn them into season preview articles. But since they’re just my personal notes, they can be a bit cryptic and hard to understand. So before I start, I figure it’s a good idea to give a brief overview of what everything means.
Record – Their 2021 win-loss record
Pyth – The Pythagorean win-loss record. This is based on point differential and does a better job of predicting future outcomes than actual record.
9+ Record – Record in games decided by 9 or more points, the idea being that these are games where one play wouldn’t have made the difference and give a better indicator of which team was truly better. It also helps give context to the Pythagorean record, since the Pythagorean record can be biased by one extreme outlier game.
TO – Turnover margin. Turnovers have a huge effect on the outcome of games, but are also pretty random. A team with a very good turnover differential is likely to see that regress to the mean and cause them to lose more games, with the reverse being true for teams with bad differentials.
Impressive Games – This is my completely subjective assessment on whether a game was good for the team, or not. This can include losses, if a bad team manages to be close with a good team. It’s also relative to how good the team is, so the Jaguars losing a close game to an elite team counts as a good game for them, while it would be merely expected for the Chiefs.
Bad Games – The opposite of an impressive game, with the same rules applying. These two measures are meant to account for strength of schedule and other factors.
Playoffs – Impressive and Bad games are just for the regular season, so this field is for notable playoff games.
Notes – Mainly for giving context to games that’s not immediately obvious.
Notable Positional Changes – These are any changes, other than quarterback or head coach (which get their own field and are always noted since they’re so important), that have a significant impact on the team. This doesn’t include swapping out role players, but instead should be a move that is going to have a real impact on the win-loss record of the team. The exception would be replacing a star player for a star player (for example, the Chiefs replacing Tyrann Mathieu with Justin Reid). Even though it doesn’t change much, I figure it’s still worth noting. Also, draft picks I typically don’t include unless they’re 1st round picks
Now to the actual preview.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Both the Eagles and the Cowboys had inflated records last year from having easy schedules. As you can see, the Eagles only had one impressive game. So I wouldn’t be surprised if both teams disappoint, even though the Eagles should actually be better.
As for picking the Eagles over the Cowboys in the division, it’s super close. The Cowboys completely owned them last year, and another sweep could give the Cowboys the first back-to-back NFC East titles since the Andy Reid Eagles won it 4 times in a row from 2001-2004.
2. Dallas Cowboys
While the Eagles took a step forward this offseason, the Cowboys took a step back. They lost Amari Cooper and Randy Gregory and replaced them with 2nd and 3rd round draft picks. Now, it’s not the end of the world if these rookies end up being good, but given their draft position, chances are they’ll be major downgrades.
3. New York Giants
I don’t really understand the Giants’ strategy. Are they just continuing to tank until they have an opportunity to draft a quarterback of the future? Or are they really so delusional that they think Daniel Jones is a long term answer?
Either way, it will be another long year for New York.
4. Washington Commanders
Carson Wentz actually did a bit better than I expected last year with the Colts. But he still sucked, so when the Commanders came knocking and offered to pay them to take him off their hands, they jumped at the opportunity.
For Washington, this move makes no sense. If you’re trading for a guy, you need to get a guy who can put you over the top. Otherwise, you’re just wasting draft capital you could be using to rebuild.