Before the 2017 NFL season began, I made a prediction on how the season would finish. In that earlier blog post, I used past performance and spending in the off-season to predict how this season would turn out. At this point in the season, most teams have only two games remaining, so let’s check and see how the predictions look at this point.
The JMP table for the AFC is shown below.
The table above shows the actual standings as of today with my predictions next to them. The Miss % is the absolute value of the difference between actual and predicted win %. Let's break down the AFC results:
Now let's look at the NFC predictions, shown below.
Looking back at seven years of data, we can see that every year each conference has had at least two repeat playoff participants. But this is a unique year in the NFC as it appears that only one of last year’s playoff participants will be in the playoffs this year. This made a predictive model a little more challenging than a typical year.
Below is a graph of the mean Miss% of each division.
The model performed best at predicting the NFC North and the AFC East results. The model did a poor job of predicting both AFC and NFC South results. One thing that the projections from the model did an excellent job of predicting is whether a team would improve or get worse. Below are a mosaic plot and contingency table showing whether a team improved or got worse from 2016 to 2017.
The model predicted that 16 teams would improve in 2017 over 2016. Of those 16 teams that the model predicted improvement, 12 teams are winning at a higher rate than they did in 2016. It's only the Broncos, Browns, Bengals and the Buccaneers that the model expected to improve but did not (something about the teams that start with B).
Eight teams were predicted to have no change in their record from 2016. Of those teams, four (the Lions, Titans, Ravens and Cardinals) still have a chance to finish with the same record as last year. The other four teams (Patriots, Redskins, Texans and Colts) are ensured to have a worse record this year than in 2016.
Of the eight teams predicted to worsen year over year, all have been worse this year. None of those eight teams can finish with a better record than last year, and only the Falcons have a chance to finish with the same record.
So, all in all, the model did a nice job of predicting whether a team would improve or worsen year over year. That is, hopefully, the useful part of the model. The magnitude of improvement or worsening was not as accurate. But nevertheless, I had fun building the model and seeing how it did. Enjoy the rest of the season and the playoffs!
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