You might notice if you look at certain websites that they talk about how many wins they think an NFL team will pick up in a given year. Maybe that’s the team’s website, or perhaps you’re looking at a sports commentary website like ESPN or Sports Illustrated.
You may have different reasons for wanting to predict a team’s win total. Maybe you’re doing it because you like that particular team, and you hope they’ll continue their dominance or turn their luck around.
Whatever your reason, you can usually predict an NFL team’s win totals fairly accurately if you look at the following factors.
Look at the Prior Year’s Performance
Forecasting an NFL team’s projected win totals isn’t always easy. You always have teams that underperform and ones that overperform. Maybe you think your team will have a great year, but events occur that you could not predict.
Still, looking at the prior year’s performance counts for a lot. Say that you have a team that went 14-3 after the NFL went to the 17-game regular season after last year.
It’s not too likely that the team will suddenly turn around and go 6-11 the following year. Nearly everything must go wrong to see that kind of drop-off.
Maybe that might happen if you trade away your quarterback, or they retire, and your team has to use an unproven rookie instead. Perhaps you might see that kind of change if the team gets rid of the head coach or there’s turmoil in the front office.
You might even have a scandal that rocks the team, like domestic violence or sexual assault allegations against a prominent player or office staff member. Barring any of that, you should see the team put up similar numbers to the previous year.
Look at Who They Drafted
The NFL draft gets plenty of attention every year. Each year, teams have a chance to get that new quarterback who the pundits feel can’t miss for a particular team or if they play in a particular coach’s system. Maybe that QB won the Heisman Trophy and has only known success up to this point.
Your team might draft a stud wide receiver or defensive tackle. Whatever big names or top prospects they picked up in the draft should help you predict how many games they’ll win.
Look at Who They Lost in the Offseason
Losing players in the offseason can help you with your prediction as well. It’s hard for a team to retain all of its players as the years pass. Maybe they have a player nearing the end of their rookie deal. Will they re-sign them to a larger contract to keep them happy?
If they do, they may not have enough money to keep some other supporting cast members around. Losing players during the offseason can signal a win total drop-off. Seemingly unimportant players like kickers can make a big difference if your team loses enough of them.
Look at Who They Gained in the Offseason
Offseason player pickups mean just as much as departures. Think about the Kansas City Chiefs trading away Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins a few weeks ago. He was arguably their best all-purpose offensive threat alongside Travis Kelce. Getting rid of him probably dropped Kansas City’s win total by 1-2 games.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins likely picked up one game in their win total by signing Hill, if not two. One player can make a huge difference, and a single win or loss can mean a team makes the playoffs or not.
Look at Their Schedule
An NFL team’s schedule is probably the most significant factor when you look at how many games you think they’ll win in a given year. If you see a team on the schedule that’s a perennial failure, like the Lions or Jaguars, that’s probably a win for the opposing team until the culture in either of those cities changes.
Though each team will play every opponent in their division twice every year, the rest of the teams they’ll play changes every season. Predicting a team’s win total isn’t truly possible until the league releases the full schedule in May of each year. The NFL does such big business in the US that the schedule unveiling gets great ratings, just like the draft.
If you look at the factors we mentioned, you can probably predict any given team’s win total without too much difficulty.