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Thread: Football Outsiders prediction for 2012

  1. #1
       
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    Football Outsiders prediction for 2012

    They have the 49ers at 7.2 wins based on regression to the mean and the projected DVOA of their opponents. Of course, last year they projected 7.5 wins for the team and we saw how badly that prediction worked out, so nyah nyah.

    What worries me though is 2010. Before the 2010 season the 49ers were nearly everyone's pick to win 10 games and the NFC West. Football Outsiders was one of the (very) few places that projected the 49ers at 6 wins. FO nailed that prediction.

    Concerns from 2011:
    • 7-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less
    • +28 turnover differential
    • A decrease in Team DVOA in the 2nd half of 2011


    Team's historically are about 50-50 in close games. If that 7-2 mark drops to 5-4 the 49ers regress to 11-5. A drop-off to a more reasonable +15 in turnover differential might cost two more games - now we're 9-7. Add in the decreased efficiency over the last half of the season and we're looking at 8-8.

    I'm not a big believer in using advanced stats to project a football season because 16 games isn't a large enough sample for statistical trends to override fluke plays, bad calls or good/bad luck. Still, it's a sobering reminder for 49ers fans who may be a bit "irrationally exuberant" for the 2012 season. Heavy betting has dropped the 49ers odds to win the Super Bowl from 10-1 to 4-1 over the past couple months. We may want to slow our roll a bit. After all, despite Harbaugh's "evaluation" of Manning, Alex Smith is still the quarterback.

  2. #2
    I think everyone agrees that the niners aren't going 13-3 again, but 7 wins? with that defense? On the other hand, 7 might win the west.

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    Ridiculous! Without even perusing their schedule I give them 10 wins easy, and yes, 7 would take that division.

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    It's not scientific, but turnover margin is one of those things that (usually) seems to come back to earth. I know Alex Smith has never been a pick machine or anything, but he only threw 5 all of last season...

    But, yeah, even a 5-game regression to a modest eight wins probably puts them in the playoffs.
    @kocsan

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    While some regression to the mean is to be expected, with as conservative and careful as Harbaugh was with the offense last season, I don't think they'll fall off as dramatically as some fear. That defense alone was a beast last season, and I don't believe they'll regress that much.

    I believe the Niners will sweep the division, giving them 6 wins. But they also play the Packers, Saints and Giants. I think the Giants game will be a win, but I go 50/50 on the Saints and Packers. You also play Detroit, which is a toss up, Minnesota, which is a win, and Chicago, which is a toss up.

    Then you have Miami, which is a win, Buffalo which is likely a win, the Patriots which I think will be a loss, and the Jets, which I believe will be a win. I think 12-4 or 11-5 is fairly realistic.

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    The problem with statistics is that they're just numbers. Football is a game of passion and destruction (and a very small data set for the entire season).

    Close games are function of a will to win as much as talent or any other factor. Lucky (or unlucky as happened against the Giants) bounces do play a part. The turnover differential is a measure of how often things go right, as opposed to wrong and plays an important part in how the close games turn out.

    I've come to see DVOA as a measure of momentum and as such, that's a potential problem.

    The wild card this season is likely the offense. Does Jacobs go back into tippy toe mode? Will Harbaugh take some extra risks downfield to keep Moss happy? If both happen and the defense struggles, FO starts looking better.

    The schedule is no favor. They traded the AFC North for the AFC East and the NFC East for the NFC North. That appears to be 6 quality games outside the division.

    I'd love to hear your opinion in about a month.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpartaChris View Post
    I believe the Niners will sweep the division
    Man, that's hard to do. As edave sez, it's about passion. Divisional rivalries can be intense and are a good place to look for weekly upsets, I believe.

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    Injuries: the star players on that D were mostly healthy, and Willis was out when they had already wrapped up the division. The injuries came in the NFC championship.

    Turnovers: They never fell behind because of that defense, but if they do this year (Packers for example), they will have to start airing out the ball alot. That opens up the chance for more picks.

    Alex Smith: not terrible. But not elite either.

    Expectations: Playing with a target on your back is a lot harder than the low expectations they had last year.

    Snowball effect: just like close wins make you feel invincible once they pile up, the reverse is also true. Close losses when the ball bounced badly for you (NFC championship again), start hurting.
    “Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.”
    ― Napoleon Bonaparte

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    Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
    Man, that's hard to do. As edave sez, it's about passion. Divisional rivalries can be intense and are a good place to look for weekly upsets, I believe.
    While all of this is true, and it's possible someone will get an unlikely win, I don't believe any of the other teams in that division have the same talent level to compete with the 49ers. The offense isn't all that explosive, but neither are the other three teams. The difference here is the defense. If the Niners defense plays at the same level as last season, then I believe they'll sweep the division again this season.

    Of course none of this can account for injuries or "unlucky bounces," as has been pointed out.
    Last edited by SpartaChris; 07-18-2012 at 10:16 AM.

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    - If Flynn is what he looked like for those 3 games (big if), that is one tough D, a great home crowd, and an upgraded Offense.

    - The Cards had very nice stretch run at the end of the season. If they shore up the OL, they also have a pretty good D.

    That division isn't as weak as it used to be.
    “Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.”
    ― Napoleon Bonaparte

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