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NFL 2016 Season Preview: Finding Another Carolina

We'll look at the Colts schedule to see where they will end up, as well as pick division winners and a Super Bowl Champion. Is there another 80-1 team to make the Super Bowl?

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

We've already kicked off the 2016 NFL Season in the same way the 2015 one ended, with the Broncos beating the Panthers in a Super Bowl rematch. This doesn't change the numbers you'll see below too much, so we're going to pretend they haven't played yet. It also will allow us to revisit this in February to see just how good we were at predicting the season.

I'm going to start with the Colts season, as I've seen anywhere from 6-10 to 12-4 as predictions from people, which is a very wide range. As with everything, the truth will most likely fit right into the middle of that, but where do the Winning Stats see them? Here's a week-to-week prediction, along with their probability of winning:

Home Score Away Score Probability
Colts 24 Lions 27 44.3%
Broncos 23 Colts 19 39.2%
Colts 24 Chargers 24 51.0%
Jaguars 22 Colts 27 62.8%
Colts 26 Bears 24 54.7%
Texans 20 Colts 19 48.1%
Titans 19 Colts 26 67.9%
Colts 20 Chiefs 25 36.7%
Packers 23 Colts 21 44.6%
Colts 27 Titans 19 70.3%
Colts 22 Steelers 25 41.7%
Jets 23 Colts 20 43.0%
Colts 20 Texans 20 50.0%
Vikings 25 Colts 22 40.1%
Raiders 23 Colts 21 44.6%
Colts 28 Jaguars 22 65.6%

If you go straight off of the scores, you come up with a record of 7-9, but adding the probabilities together you get almost dead nuts 8-8, which I think is very realistic. You only see two games with under 40% of winning, and only four over 60%, so a whopping 10 games fall into the "toss-up" category. This is largely due to the fact that the Colts are smack dab in the middle of the league with a whole bunch of other teams, and it's extremely difficult to separate the middle 3rd of the NFL.

The two most difficult games appear to be Week 2 in Denver (we saw what they did to the Panthers last night), and Week 8, at home, against the Chiefs. Obviously the computer doesn't know how in-the-Chiefs-head the Colts are, but as you'll see below, the Winning Stats are quite high on the Chiefs. The Colts easiest game is at home against the Titans after their bye week, which I think most would agree with. All in all, I don't find these scores all that off from reality.

Luckily for the Colts, it appears the AFC South will be just as bad as they were in 2015, so the chances of making the Playoffs aren't all that bad, just under the 50% mark.

AFC South
Team Wins #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 Div Bye WC Total
Texans 8.4 4.1% 7.3% 13.9% 23.4% 1.9% 2.8% 48.7% 11.4% 4.7% 53.4%
Colts 8.0 3.2% 5.6% 11.7% 20.6% 2.0% 3.1% 41.0% 8.8% 5.1% 46.1%
Jaguars 5.5 0.1% 0.4% 1.4% 4.5% 0.3% 0.7% 6.4% 0.5% 1.0% 7.4%
Titans 5.0 0.0% 0.2% 0.7% 2.9% 0.2% 0.5% 3.9% 0.2% 0.6% 4.5%

The Texans are projected to have about a half win more than the Colts, so they are pretty close together. A Wild Card berth seems like a reach again this season (~5%), so the Colts will most likely have to win the division to get back to the Playoffs. For those of you who want to remain very optimistic, the Colts have the #1 seed about 3% of the time, so it is possible, although I wouldn't get your hopes up.

AFC
Team Div. Title Wild Card Div. Round Conf. Champ Win Conf. Win SB
Chiefs 52.4% 23.2% 63.0% 38.4% 22.6% 10.1%
Bengals 50.9% 22.9% 60.2% 36.1% 20.7% 9.1%
Steelers 27.4% 25.7% 38.4% 19.9% 10.1% 4.0%
Broncos 24.9% 26.9% 36.9% 19.1% 9.8% 3.8%
Jets 38.5% 7.7% 29.6% 14.1% 6.6% 2.4%
Ravens 19.3% 23.3% 27.7% 12.5% 5.6% 1.9%
Texans 48.7% 4.7% 30.2% 12.6% 5.1% 1.6%
Bills 32.2% 7.7% 23.9% 10.6% 4.7% 1.6%
Raiders 12.4% 19.8% 20.2% 9.0% 3.8% 1.3%
Colts 41.0% 5.1% 25.3% 10.4% 4.2% 1.2%
Patriots 25.0% 7.0% 18.3% 7.7% 3.2% 1.1%
Chargers 10.3% 17.6% 16.6% 7.0% 2.8% 0.9%
Browns 2.4% 5.3% 3.6% 1.1% 0.3% 0.1%
Dolphins 4.3% 1.5% 2.2% 0.7% 0.2% 0.1%
Jaguars 6.4% 1.0% 2.5% 0.7% 0.2% 0.0%
Titans 3.9% 0.6% 1.3% 0.3% 0.1% 0.0%

The Chiefs lead the way in the AFC, winning the Super Bowl about 10% of the time, with the Bengals the next closest challenger. A caveat: the Winning Stats never like the Patriots early in a season. I've tried to find where I can fix it to make their number more realistic, but I haven't found it. Their number is especially low due to the first four games without Brady, but they're one of the Super Bowl favorites in Vegas, and rightly so, so their number is obviously off. The Colts, on the other hand, are right where they should be. The overwhelming favorite, however, comes from the NFC, and it is the Seahawks at a whopping 33%! It's the strongest I've ever seen a team preseason to win the Super Bowl.

Here are my Predictions for the Season (with betting odds where applicable):

  • Colts Record: 8-8
  • AFC Playoff Seeds: #1 Chiefs, #2 Bengals, #3 Jets, #4 Texans #5 Steelers, #6 Broncos
  • NFC Playoff Seeds: #1 Seahawks, #2 Panthers, #3 Vikings, #4 Redskins, #5 Cardinals, #6 Lions (+320 to Make Playoffs)
  • Super Bowl Champion: Seahawks (8/1)
  • Long-Shot Super Bowl Champion: Lions (105/1)
  • Win Totals:
    • Giants U7 (+305)
    • Jaguars U7 (+159)
    • Lions O8 (+180)
    • Seahawks O11.5 (+144)

While the Seahawks are a far cry from the 80/1 that the Panthers were a year ago, I'm all in on them this year. But I had to find another team way off the radar to go after, which brought me to the Lions. They finished the season 6-2, with one of those losses being the Hail Mary against the Packers, so very easily 7-1. It matches the formula for the Panthers, who finished strong in 2014, and they kept it rolling all the way to the Super Bowl. Do I expect the Lions to match what the Panthers did? No (only 2.7% chance of reaching Super Bowl), but at the odds they are giving me, I'm absolutely going to take a shot. If you look at their schedule, you can easily see a 6-1 or 5-2 start for them. The value is too good to pass up.

Each week I'll have an article on Wednesdays that'll talk mostly about how the Colts are doing with respect to the Playoffs, then a general overview of Super Bowl odds for the entire league, like I did here. But each week I'll have every team updated in one place, which can be found here:

Stampede Blue's Winning Stats Playoff Odds

You can also find this link under "Library" in the header of the site. I don't want to bog down these articles with a bunch of tables that I don't talk about, so I'll just link to everything and if you're interested you can go check it out.