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Old 01-05-2006   #1
MorKnolle
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Default Single-Season Turnaround?

The question of where do you expect the Texans to be at this time next year has been brought up several times on this board, so I looked at the records of NFL teams over the last several seasons to see how many teams made a big turnaround in a single season (both positive and negative) and what circumstances surrounded that turnaround. I ran a quick statistical analysis on it. Obviously the overall league average of win increases/decreases per year is 0 since for every game one team improves, another one has to lost. However, I found that the standard deviation of change in wins was 3.77 per year, indicating that, statistically speaking, about 67% of the time a team will have 4 or fewer different wins than the previous year, whether it is 4 fewer wins or 4 more wins, so I'd say that's a decent cutoff amount for attributing to normal fluctuations, so I was interested in figuring out what happened when a team's number of wins changed by five or more from one year to the next. Here is a look at the number of wins for each team since 1998, keep in mind the divisions were re-aligned when Houston joined the league in 2002 (Super Bowl participants are bolded):

AFC East.......05..04..03..02...01..00..99..98
New England...10..14..14...9....11...5...8...9
Miami..............9...4...10...9....11..11..9..10
Buffalo............5...9....6....8....3....8..11.. 10
NY Jets...........4..10....6...9....10...9...8..12
AFC North
Cincinnati.......11...8...8....2.....6....4...4... 3
Pittsburgh......11..15...6..10.5..13...9...6...7
Baltimore .......6....9...10...7....10..12...8...6
Cleveland........6....4...5....9.....7....3...2... X
AFC South
Indianapolis....14..12...12..10....6...10..13...3
Jacksonville....12...9....5....6.....6...7...14..1 1
Tennessee......4....5...12..11....7...13..13...8
Houston..........2...7....5....4....X....X...X.... X
AFC West
Denver...........13..10..10...9.....8...11...6..14
Kansas City.....10..7...13...8.....6...7....9....7
San Diego........9..12....4...8.....5...1....8....5
Oakland...........4...5....4...11...10..12...8...8
NFC East
NY Giants........11..6....4...10...7...12...7....8
Washington.....10..6....5....7....8....8...10...6
Dallas.............9....6...10...5....5....5...8.. .10
Philadelphia......6..13...12..12..11..11...5....3
NFC North
Chicago..........11...5....7...4...13...5...6..... 4
Minnesota........9...8....9....6....5..11..10...15
Detroit............5....6....5...3....2....9...8.. ..5
Green Bay........4..10...10..12..12...9...8....11
NFC South
Tampa Bay......11...5....7...12...9...10..11...8
Carolina..........11...7...11...7....1...7....8....4
Atlanta............8...11...5...9.5..7...4....5...14
New Orleans.....3....8....8...9....7..10....3....6
NFC West
Seattle...........13...9...10..7....9....6....9... .8
St. Louis..........6...8...12...7...14..10...13...4
Arizona............5...6....4...5.....7...3....6.. ..9
San Francisco...4...2....7..10...12...6....4...12
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Old 01-05-2006   #2
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Maybe we can be like the Miami Dolphins of this year. They went from 4-12 to 9-7 under Nick Saban. That's a reason I like Scott Linehan.
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Old 01-05-2006   #3
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Since 1998, numerous teams have improved or declined by 5 or more wins in one season:

New England has done it twice (9 to 14 wins from 2002-2003 and 5 to 11 wins from 2000-2001, winning the Super Bowl both years after the big increase. Brady emerged as a QB the first time it happened)
Miami has done it twice (10 to 4 wins from 2003-2004 after Ricky's retirement and 4 to 9 wins from 2004 to this year upon his return, Ronnie Brown being drafted, and Nick Saban becoming head coach)
Buffalo dropped one time (8 to 3 fwins rom 2000-2001)
NY Jets did it twice (5 to 10 wins from 2003-2004 as Curtis Martin had a career year and 10 wins to 4 wins from 2004 to this year)
Cincinnati had one jump (2 wins to 8 wins from 2002-2003, they drafted Carson Palmer that year but he didn't play much as a rookie)
Pittsburgh had the second biggest single year change (6 to 15 wins from 2003-2004 as Roethlisberger came on with a strong rookie year, and otherwise they usually had 2-3 year upswings followed by 2-3 downswings)
Baltimore did not have any drastic changes
Cleveland did not have any 5+ game changes
Indianapolis had the biggest single year change (3 to 13 wins from 1998-1999 following Peyton Manning's emergence)
Jacksonville had the biggest drop off (14 to 6 wins from 1999-2000)
Tennessee had several drastic changes (8 to 13 wins from 1998-1999, 13 to 7 wins from 2000-2001, and from 12 to 5 wins from 2003-2004)
Houston had one drop of (7 to 2 wins from 2004-2005 after inept coaching and cutting three defensive leaders)
Denver had a big drop (14 to 6 wins from 1998-1999 following John Elway's retirement but rebounded from 6 to 11 wins the following year)
Kansas City had a couple jumps (8 to 13 wins from 2002-2003 and 13 to 7 wins from 2003-2004)
San Diego had a couple jumpes (8 to 1 win from 1999-2000 and 4 to 12 wins from 2003-2004)
Oakland dropped off after their Super Bowl (11 to 4 wins)
NY Giants had several jumps (7 to 12 wins in 1999-2000 then back to 7 wins in 2001, from 10 to 4 wins from 2002-2003, and from 6 to 11 wins from 2004-2005)
Washington did not have any 5+ game changes
Dallas jumped once (5 to 10 wins from 2002-2003)
Philadelphia had two (5 to 11 wins from 1999-2000 and 13 to 6 wins from 2004 to this year following injuries and the T.O. debacle)
Chicago had several jumps (5 to 13 wins from 1999-2000 then back to 4 wins in 2001, and 5 to 11 wins from 2004 to this year)
Minnesota had two bad drops (15 to 10 wins from 1998-1999 and 11 to 6 wins from 2000-2001)
Detroit fell once (9 to 2 wins from 2000-2001)
Green Bay fell once (10 to 4 wins from 2004 to this year)
Tampa Bay had a couple changes (12 to 7 wins from 2002-2003 after their Super Bowl, and 5 to 11 wins from 2004 to this year)
Carolina had a couple jumps (7 to 1 win from 2000-2001 and back to 7 wins the next year)
Atlanta had two jumps (14 to 5 wins from 1998-1999 after their Super Bowl appearance, and 5 to 11 wins from 2003-2004)
New Orleans jumped twice (3 to 10 wins from 1999-2000 and 8 to 3 wins from 2004 to this year)
Seattle has steadily improved throughout
St. Louis had some big jumps (4 to 13 wins and a Super Bowl victory from 1998-1999), 14 to 7 wins from 2001-2002 after losing the Super Bowl, and then back up to 12 wins in 2003)
Arizona has been steadily poor throughout
San Francisco has had some big jumps (12 to 4 wins from 1998-1999, 6 to 12 wins from 2000-2001, and 7 to 2 wins from 2003-2004)

Over the last 8 years, only four NFL teams (Baltimore, Cleveland, Seattle, Arizona) have not experienced a year in which their wins changed by five or more, and as the statistics showed 67% of the time a change of up to 4 games can be expected. Many of the big drop offs during this time can be attributed to certain situations (e.g. Elway's retirement after 1998), while the positive turnarounds are a little harder to find a specific cause, but nonetheless many such situations have occured. New England went from 5-11 to winning their first Super Bowl, Pittsburgh went from 6-10 to 15-1 in one year, Indianapolis went from 3-13 to 13-3 in one year, Denver rebounded after Elways retirement and improved from 6-10 to 11-5 with a new QB emerging, San Diego improved from 4-12 and having the 1st pick in the draft to 12-4, Chicago improved from 5-11 to 13-3, New Orleans improve from 3-13 to 10-6, and the Rams improved from 4-12 to 13-3 and a Super Bowl victory. At the same time, several teams have had drastic drop-offs, 8 different times teams that participated in the Super Bowl (3 of the Super Bowl winners) failed to make the playoffs the next year. That said, I don't think it would be outrageous to think that the Texans could achieve 8-8 or better next year (maybe even those playoffs that were promised), while other teams could easily change as well for better or worse. I was interested to see how many teams do have these big changes in record and if that is just a cycle that all teams go through and if there are certain things that lead to these big changes. Any ideas or comments?

Last edited by MorKnolle; 01-05-2006 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 01-05-2006   #4
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I'll be real happy if we can get to 8-8 next year. No matter what happens in this draft, we still have huge needs throughout our football team which will not go away in one year.

6-10 is a more realistic record for next year.
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Old 01-05-2006   #5
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I appreciate and like the work you did on the scientific side of your arguement. Can you tell me what the 2nd standard deviation of change in wins per year is going to be? 2nd standard deviation are closer to being more accurate and encompassing than the 1st deviation.

As for what all this means in lamons verbage, in therotical sense the Texans 67% of the time for the year 2006 will will between zero and 6 games. I perosanlly hope they are well above the 1st deviation and beyond the 2nd too.
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Old 01-05-2006   #6
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The standard deviation bit means that there is roughly a 33% chance of the Texans improving their record by 4 (3.77) or more games next year, granted this is assuming a great deal of randomness and is based on historic numbers from all 32 teams over the last 8 years and should not necessarily be used as saying we only have a 1 in 3 chance of being better than 7-9 next year. If you want to look at two standard deviations, it would say that we have about a 5% chance of improving our record by 8 (7.54) game next year, but again, that a statistical model that by definition has to assume some randomness to team records, and is far from being a perfect model for the NFL. Obviously things are not completely random like that, not to mention having the #1 pick in the draft (maybe trading it for numerous picks) plus bringing in a new head coach could certainly change things too. I haven't really gone into looking at what could have contributed to many of the past jumps in team records as that would obviously be time consuming and I have other things to do at the moment. I mainly pointed out the standard deviation bit to show how much team's records change from year to year and maybe give an indication of how much of that is due to certain big things happening with the team or just being part of the usual cycle of good vs. bad seasons, so don't read into it too much and assume that it is predicting our chances of obtaining a certain record next year.
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