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Colts Chances At 0-16 Quickly Approaching Coin Flip Status

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With the good news that came earlier this week about the health status of Peyton Manning, I'm feeling a little less angst at the prospect of the Colts going 0-16. It's still something that should have never happened, but I think that, on top of the gut punch that would have been Manning not where he should be, would have been just too much. But now with Manning showing some good signs in his recovery, joining the 2008 Lions doesn't matter as much, at least to me.

But just how likely is it that the Colts will finish the season with five more losses? With the help of my Predictor, which gives a percentage of win, we can get a good measure as to what the Colts actual chances are. Here's what the Predictor says the outcome would be for the last five weeks of the Colts season:

Home Score Away Score Probability
Patriots 35 Colts 17 10.7%
Ravens 30 Colts 11 10.4%
Colts 16 Titans 28 22.6%
Colts 10 Texans 32 6.4%
Jaguars 23 Colts 11 21.6%

None of these games looks particularly good for the Colts, with the Titans game looking like the best chance for a win. There have been 13 games this seasons (out of 45) with a probability of 22.6% or less that a team won, with the lowest being 10.8% for the Rams to beat the Saints. That means if the Colts beat the Patriots, Ravens, or Texans, it'll easily be the biggest upset of the NFL season.

While each individual game looks slim, the probability of them losing all 5 games is much less, but it still isn't great. To find what that is, you multiply the probability that each Colts opponent will win, or the product of (100% - Colts Probability), which ends up being 45.5%, meaning the Colts just barely have over a 50/50 chance of winning a game this season.

Since the Panthers game last week seemed to be the Colts best chance of a victory (and it was at 31.3%), I went back and ran these same numbers before last week's game, and their chances of going 0-16 were just 26.6%, meaning their chances almost doubled after losing last week. That's pretty significant. The Colts actually had a 1/3 chance of winning two games before last week, which is now under 15%.

For comparison's sake, the 2007 Dolphins, who finished 1-15, and the 2008 Lions were both 0-11, so I went back and figured out what their chances were, with five games remaining, to finish 0-16. Both of them, whether it was they were a better team than the Colts or had an easier schedule, had a better chance of winning a game than the Colts do in 2011.

Wins '11 Colts '08 Lions '07 Dolphins
0 45.5% 37.1% 10.6%
1 39.6% 40.8% 32.1%
2 12.8% 17.8% 35.6%
3 1.9% 3.8% 17.8%
4 0.1% 0.4% 3.8%
5 0.003% 0.02% 0.2%

The Dolphins were actually favored according to my Predictor in Week 13 against the Jets that year, even though they lost that game. They would have had to try really hard to finish 0-16, and nearly did. The Lions were much closer to what the Colts will face, with their best chance of winning a game at 22.1%, at home against the Saints, a game they lost 42-7.

I also think it's funny how remote the chances are that the Colts win their last five games. If the season were to be played 100,000 times, only 3 of them would see the Colts winning all five. That's ridiculous to think about. Football Outsiders also ran these numbers with their system, and they give 0-16 a 29.2% chance of happening, and 1-15 a 45.6% chance. They seem to have a little more confidence in the Colts.

As far as the #1 draft pick goes, the Colts have an 85.1% chance of having one or fewer losses, which guarantees them the #1 pick. The Vikings and Rams, the two teams with only 2 wins, have a 89% and 79% chance to win at least one game the rest of the year respectively, which means you can bump the Colts chances for the #1 overall pick, without any tiebreakers at 2 wins, to 94.2%, and that's the minimum, but further calculation is quite complex with tiebreakers, etc., so we'll leave it at that. It's nearly locked in.

I do know one person who likes seeing these numbers. What was surely a sucker bet at 1000-1 before the season now looks really, really good.