Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Aug 2014

ESPN: Most Likely Teams to Go First to Worst

Part II of II. We actually measured here the chances of first-place teams dropping to 6-10 or worse, not their chances of finishing fourth this year, which does explain how Indianapolis can end up second on this list. Let's be honest -- even if they somehow flop to 6-10, the Colts aren't finishing last in that division. The clearly most likely first-to-worst team is Carolina.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 05 Aug 2014

9 comments, Last at 06 Aug 2014, 1:53pm by morganja


by WeaponX :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 12:42pm

Carolina's starting secondary last season wasn't exactly the teeth of that D.

Sometimes I even trip myself out.

by PaddyPat :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 1:53pm

There is some precedent, ridiculous as it might sound, for a team in Denver's position to fall to last place. Chicago did it 2005-6. Philadelphia 2004-5. Imagine that Peyton somehow gets a season ending injury, Osweiler is not all that one might hope, and the Broncos' offensive line crumbles without number 18. I mean, stranger things have happened. It seems more likely on some level than Indianapolis performing worse than Jacksonville.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 2:04pm

There is an even more recent and fitting example in Minnesota 2009-2010, although I guess you're just looking at 13-3 teams.

by PaddyPat :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 4:32pm

No, that wasn't a conscious restriction; I was just picking teams that had lost the Super Bowl. You're absolutely right though. In all 3 cases there was little to no reason to anticipate a collapse the following season, at least as far as I can recall. The Eagles were perhaps the weirdest. One is just left wondering about regression.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 5:27pm

An injured Peyton obviously hoses the Broncos, depending on how Osweiler performs. I would presume the main problem with dropping the Broncos to the bottom of that division in that case is something that rhymes with "Blaiders".

by Perfundle :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 5:51pm

Even there you can't be entirely certain. Detroit was 3-13 in 2006 (and 5-11 the year before) and 2-14 in 2009 (and 0-16 the year before), and the division champ still finished fourth (tied with Detroit) the following year.

I think the apparent strength of Denver's defense is the biggest reason why they won't fall to fourth to me even if Manning gets seriously injured, unless Osweiler turns out to be 2012-Skelton bad.

by PaddyPat :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 7:36pm

I was just pointing out the sorta trend, as far as I could recall. There is something Icarus-ish about it. Carolina is a much more obvious pick.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 08/06/2014 - 9:06am

2013 49ers: 12-4 (Lost NFCCG)
2012 Patriots: 12-4 (Lost AFCCG)
2011 Steelers: 12-4 (Lost AFCWC)
2010 Colts: 10-6 (Lost AFCWC)
2009 Cardinals: 10-6 (Lost NFCDIV)
2008 Patriots: 11-5 (No Playoffs)

That's the last six teams to lose a Super Bowl. All but one made the playoffs (the 11-5 Pats). They've combined to win more playoff games in that span (4) than all defending Champions since 2004.

I agree that for a long time it seemed like the Super Bowl loser was snake-bitten, but that hasn't happened in recent years.

Just for comparison, here's the last 6 Super Bowl winners:

2013 Ravens: 8-8 (No Playoffs)
2012 Giants: 9-7 (No Playoffs)
2011 Packers: 15-1 (Lost NFCDIV)
2010 Saints: 11-5 (Lost NFCWC)
2009 Steelers: 9-7 (No Playoffs)
2008 Giants: 12-4 (Lost NFCDIV)

by morganja :: Wed, 08/06/2014 - 1:53pm

According to David Newton, the ESPN commentator for the NFC South, Carolina is in better shape than last year. They are better off without Steve Smith. Or their receivers from last year, or their starting secondary, or a converted DT becoming the starting left tackle.
In fact, barely as day goes by without him telling us how much better the Panthers are without Steve Smith.
I think 6 wins is the over-under for the Panthers this year.