2013 Winning Stats NFL Preview: Colts Win Division, Manning Wins Super Bowl?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

As the season kicks off, which team do the Winning Stats predict will win the Super Bowl?

The beauty of having a statistical system that spits out win probabilities means you can go through an entire season and predict just how good teams will be, based on their actual schedule. It takes out the arbitrary win counts, and wins in the league coming out to something over 256. It's also fun to see how closely preseason predictions come to actually telling the future.

The probabilities are based on last season, with the end of the season weighing more heavily than early on. Usually teams that play well at the end of the year carry that over to the following season, and vice versa (which is why, as you'll see, I'm not that high on the Texans). I then simulated the playoffs to see which team the Winning Stats predict to win the Super Bowl.

The next step, which I hope to have up and running by mid-season, is a simulator that can play 10,000 seasons and determine chances of making the playoffs, winning division, etc. It turns out that figuring out NFL tie-breakers was much more difficult than I anticipated. My goal is the Colts bye week, so we can then track their chances of the postseason the second half of the season.

I'll break down each division and give you an interesting note for each one. I'll bold the teams that make Playoffs, then have a Playoff Summary at the end, finishing with the Super Bowl champion.

AFC South:

AFC South W L Pts PA
Colts 9 7 383 357
Titans 7 9 297 340
Texans 7 9 314 365
Jaguars 6 10 294 365

The Colts win the division being the only team above .500. Houston has to play the 2nd toughest schedule in the AFC (14th overall). I'll certainly take this season result. The AFC South also has the least number of wins of any other division.

AFC North:

AFC North W L Pts PA
Bengals 8 8 302 288
Steelers 8 8 311 301
Ravens 8 8 343 334
Browns 7 9 310 360

One of the closest divisions, the Bengals edge out both the Steelers and Ravens, but all three make the Playoffs in the very weak AFC. The Ravens play the toughest schedule in the AFC, although it's already easier after Week 1.

AFC East:

AFC East W L Pts PA
Patriots 11 5 427 316
Bills 7 9 338 368
Dolphins 6 10 311 374
Jets 6 10 257 346

It's the Patriots and everyone else, same as it's been for over 10 years now. The Jets are the 2nd lowest scoring team in the NFL.

AFC West:

AFC West W L Pts PA
Broncos 12 4 465 276
Chargers 8 8 356 373
Raiders 7 9 333 372
Chiefs 4 12 267 419

The Broncos are the #1 seed in the AFC, and have the most wins in the NFL, as well as the easiest schedule. In fact, the three easiest schedules in the NFL are all in the AFC West (Chargers and Raiders). Note the Raiders record as well, which is much different than what the majority opinion is of them.

NFC South:

NFC South
W L Pts PA
Saints 9 7 427 376
Panthers 9 7 426 382
Falcons 9 7 412 371
Buccaneers 6 10 325 397

The top 3 teams were only separated by 0.23 wins, and the Falcons will be on the outside looking in for the Playoffs. I'm a little surprised that the Panthers are projected so well, but they obviously match-up pretty well with their schedule.

NFC North:

NFC North
W L Pts PA
Packers 10 6 432 370
Vikings 9 7 423 380
Bears 8 8 349 332
Lions 8 8 367 374

The only division with all four teams at least at .500, and the Vikings make the Playoffs despite playing the 2nd toughest schedule in the league. They are another team the "experts" aren't high on.

NFC East:

NFC East
W L Pts PA
Redskins 10 6 454 388
Giants 8 8 404 405
Cowboys 7 9 398 430
Eagles 5 11 341 448

The Redskins have a fairly manageable schedule (easiest in NFC), and the Eagles might not be that accurate, as they've had a complete overhaul of scheme. It does show the Eagles giving up the most points in the league though, which definitely could be true. The Cowboys and Giants also miss out on the Playoff party.

NFC West:

NFC East
W L Pts PA
Seahawks 12 4 492 325
49ers 9 7 409 369
Rams 9 7 371 344
Cardinals 6 10 241 335

The Seahawks earn home-field advantage, which means you can pretty much sew up a Super Bowl berth for them, as they rarely lose at home. They are also the highest scoring team in the NFL. The 49ers take a step back, not making the playoffs, and the Cardinals play the toughest schedule in the NFL. Good Luck Coach Arians!

Playoff Summary:

Away Score Home Score Probability
Wild Card Round
Ravens 25 Colts 23 54.1%
Steelers 16 Bengals 17 52.6%
Vikings 26 Packers 28 53.9%
Panthers 27 Saints 28 51.4%
Divisional Round
Ravens 18 Broncos 27 73.5%
Bengals 17 Patriots 24 67.8%
Packers 28 Redskins 27 51.0%
Saints 24 Seahawks 31 67.8%
Championship Games
Patriots 23 Broncos 26 58.1%
Packers 24 Seahawks 31 68.0%
Super Bowl
Seahawks 28 Broncos 25 59.2%

The Colts can't get past the Ravens, even at home, as they exit the Playoffs on the first weekend. You can also see how top-heavy the league is, as once we get to the second weekend the cream-of-the-crop rises and they have pretty good chances of winning. But you can see why the main objective needs to be just getting to the Playoffs, as that first weekend has four virtual coin flips.

The two best teams from the regular season are meeting in the Super Bowl, with the Seahawks beating the Broncos by a field goal. Certainly plauisble, which is all I expect from the numbers.

We'll revisit after the season is over to see just how well things turned out.

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