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Football Outsiders gives us predictions about 2009

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FO's computers crunch their numbers for us football fans. 

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FO's computers crunch their numbers for us football fans. Image: www.minnpost.com

The number munchers and crunchers at Football Outsiders (specifically, Mike Tanier guest blogging at The Fifth Down), are now giving us predictions for the 2009 season. Some are not so bold (the Chargers winning the AFC) and some are pretty ballsy (the Rams winning 9 games).

It turns out that Spagnuolo isn’t the only reason for optimism in St. Louis. Many statistical indicators suggest that the Rams are close to rising again. One is their fumble recovery percentage: the Rams forced 17 fumbles last year but recovered just 5, a sign that with better luck and a dose of Spagnuolo’s coaching, their defense will create a few more turnovers.

The Rams were one of the worst teams in the league in red zone running, and it takes only a slight improvement in that area to make a big difference on the scoreboard. The Rams lost many of their starters to injuries in 2008 and can get better just by getting healthier.

Tanier also makes note of the Rams' division, the NFC West. To put it bluntly, the West stinks. The Arizona Cardinals might have been a one hit wonder, the Seahawks are a huge question mark, and the 49ers still don't know who will play QB for them.

Tanier also went on to say that the Chargers "look like a 9-7 or 10-6 win team to the naked eye, but our models project them to have one of the best records in the league: they have an 87 percent chance of winning eleven games or more."

Part of the reason Tanier thinks the Chargers will do so well is their division: The AFC West. I take it you see a pattern developing, huh? The Broncos have blown up in the faces of Pat Bowlen and Josh McBoobhead. The Chiefs are in full re-build mode and the Raiders continue to exist in the black vortex of suckitude they have always existed in since Al Davis started making all the personnel and coaching decisions for the team again. If the Chargers do not sweep their division in 2009, they are underachieving.

So, what about the Colts?

Well, for the last three days, 18to88 has been breaking down their thoughts on FO's Almanac and how they view the Colts (so much for their feeling about off-season coverage of the Colts, I guess). In fact, the breakdown is so thorough I almost don't see the need in buying the Almanac. I mean, I already have, but when I have this kind of detail available to me via a blog (because the only reason I get the Almanac is to read what they think of the Colts, and to try to keep up with shake n bake when he talks to me about de-yarrrrrr!), it seems a waste to buy the book.

Anyway, 18to88 reports "sunny weather" for the Colts in 2009, according to Football Outsiders.

Here are the projections for the 2009 Indianapolis Colts:

2009: New staff + same Peyton Manning = same results.
2009 Mean Projection: 11.5 wins

Here are the likely number of wins for the Horse.
On the Clock (0-3): 0%
Loserville (4-6): 0%
Mediocrity (7-8): 4%
Playoff Contender (9-10): 28%
Super Bowl Contender (11+): 68%

In other words, according to their numbers, Indy has a better than 2 in 3 chance to be right back to the same level they have been at for the past 5 years, and a 96% chance of being in the playoff hunt.  I think all Colts fans would take that in a heartbeart.

Despite 18to88 spilling the beans on the Colts projections, I agree with them that buying the Almanac is a fun investment for the serious football fan. And if you don't but much faith in numbers and statistics as a way to predict how teams will perform, check this out:

Take last year: The [Football Outsiders] computers predicted that the 5-11 Ravens would bounce back from a bad season and go deep into the playoffs. We all had a hearty laugh about that one. We stopped laughing when the Ravens went 11-5 and reached the A.F.C. championship game.

Before the 2007 season, our models said the Packers would bounce back on the strength of — get this — a comeback season by Brett Favre. Another howler that just happened to come true.
Scary accurate, huh?