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Old 09-06-2011, 01:30 PM    (permalink
JBCX
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Default The first 4 weeks of the season

The first four weeks of the season are more important than you think. We always hear about Super Bowl winners riding a hot streak into the playoffs or being the "hot team" at the end of the season, but if we look back at past Super Bowl winners, this isn't really all that true. The majority of the past 45 Super Bowl champions have been teams that dominated early in the season.

Of the past 45 Super Bowl Champs:

- Eighteen began the season 4-0, and one (1967 Packers) began the season 3-0-1
- Nineteen began the season 3-1, and one (1974 Steelers) began the season 2-1-1
- Five teams (2007 Giants, 2003 Patriots, 1993 Cowboys, 1981 49ers, and 1980 49ers) began the season 2-2
- One team (2001 Patriots) began the season 1-3
- None of the Super Bowl winners ever began the season 0-4

So if we look back at this, we see that more than 86% of the Super Bowl winners of the past 45 years began the season with *one loss or fewer* in the first four weeks of the season.

Additionally, most of the Super Bowl champs that began the season 4-0 or 3-1 dominated the opposition in their victories. I've calculated the average point differential of each team's string of victories in the first four weeks. The 4-0 teams defeated the competition in their four victories, on average, by 13.79 points per game. The 3-1 teams defeated the competition in their three victories, on average, by 14.5 points per game.

The lesson of this study is, I think, that if a particular team is struggling out of the gate, the odds are that it will not be able to overcome any early struggles to win a Super Bowl. The teams that are *most likely* to win a Super Bowl are the ones that are dominating the early competition, whether they are good teams or bad, and amassing a string of early wins. You can, generally speaking, immediately disqualify any team that goes 1-3 or 0-4 in the first four weeks from any Super Bowl talk, and you should keep a close eye on any team going 4-0 or 3-1, especially if they are destroying their opponents.
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Old 09-06-2011, 01:55 PM    (permalink
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What happens if we add the losing team into the mix?
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Old 09-06-2011, 01:57 PM    (permalink
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What happens if we add the losing team into the mix?
The winner is the only team that really matters in the end.

But I'm sure that for the losers, the stats are probably similar, if a little less dominating in the points per game stat.
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Old 09-06-2011, 02:02 PM    (permalink
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Imagine that, the winner of the Super Bowl has a good record during the regular season.
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Old 09-06-2011, 02:08 PM    (permalink
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Imagine that, the winner of the Super Bowl has a good record during the regular season.
But how often do you hear analysts talking about teams struggling early, and then discounting an early 2-2 or 1-3 record by saying that they could still "get hot down the stretch". Every year people talk about the Chargers in this manner. But the truth of the matter is that your first four games are a snapshot of the team throughout the season. In the NFL, it's hard to improve on mediocrity once you display it early, and it's similarly hard to lose dominance once you display it early as well.

In 2009, the Saints destroyed everything in their path in the first 4 games. People wrote them off because they destroyed teams such as the Lions, or the Eagles sans McNabb, but this was a snapshot of the team they would be the whole season. Similarly, later in the season after they lost to the Cowboys and endured a losing streak, some people began to say that they had "fizzled out" and were going to be "cold" going into the playoffs. Alot of people picked the Cowboys, who had started off poorly but ended the season with a winning streak, as the "hot team". But, obviously, the Saints were the best team in the NFC that year, regardless of any late cold spell.

The thing that's important to realize from this is that if a team is blowing other teams out early, regardless of competition (even if its the 2009 Lions, or the Bengals / Seahawks this year), they will likely be a dominant team for the entire season and should be considered a Super Bowl favorite. And if a preseason favorite struggles to a 1-3 or 2-2 record early, regardless if they are a preseason favorite (such as the 2010 Cowboys), they will likely struggle the entire season and/or squeak into the playoffs and lose.

"Getting hot at the right time" is an overrated concept in football. Good teams are good teams from the start, and bad teams that are bad in the beginning will not suddenly improve and become Super Bowl contenders.

It seems obvious, but there are alot of people (analysts, fans) that think otherwise and put too much stock into late-season, down-the-stretch performance, and ignore early results that showcase dominance.

Everybody's in love with the Cinderella story and thinks that a team can just come out of nowhere in the playoffs and win win the Super Bowl, but those teams are exceptionally rare. Usually, the winner of the Super Bowl is the team that looked like the best team in the NFL from the start.

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Old 09-06-2011, 02:31 PM    (permalink
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The winner is the only team that really matters in the end.

But I'm sure that for the losers, the stats are probably similar, if a little less dominating in the points per game stat.
Okay, so if your team doesn't win the Super Bowl, I'm sure you'll have the same reaction to a 6-10 season, 8-8 season or 11-5 season ending with a loss in Super Bowl XLVI.

For the rest of us, we want to see as many wins as possible and being able to make it to the Super Bowl if not win it. Being able to witness a win on a big stage like the AFC/NFC Championship game is pretty important for most of us.

So here are the stats for those who made it to the big dance and lost:

18 teams (40%) started the season 4-0.
18 teams (40%) started the season 3-1 while the 1977 Vikings started 3-0-1
6 teams (13%) started the season 2-2 with the 1972 Dolphins and 1988 Denver Broncos starting 2-1-1
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Old 09-06-2011, 02:36 PM    (permalink
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Didn't the Lions start 6-2 one year?
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Old 09-06-2011, 02:40 PM    (permalink
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Didn't the Lions start 6-2 one year?
Plenty of teams have started 3-1 or 4-0 and have failed to win the Super Bowl, or even win a playoff game, I'm sure.

That wasn't my point; my point was that if you start 1-3 or 0-4, you are almost immediately disqualified from contending for a Super Bowl title, and if you start 2-2 the odds are better for you, but still slim.

Being 3-1 or 4-0 doesn't necessarily mean you are a Super Bowl contender; but being 1-3, 0-4 or even 2-2 means that you probably *aren't* a Super Bowl contender.
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:17 AM    (permalink
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After four weeks of the 2011 season we can separate the teams into four groups:

The Super Bowl Favorites (4-0)

Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers

The Probable Playoff Teams (3-1)

Buffalo Bills
New England Patriots
Baltimore Ravens
Houston Texans
Tennessee Titans
San Diego Chargers
Washington Redskins
New York Giants
New Orleans Saints
San Francisco 49ers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Unlikely To Contend For a Super Bowl But Might Make Playoffs (2-2)

New York Jets
Cincinatti Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers
Oakland Raiders
Dallas Cowboys
Chicago Bears
Atlanta Falcons

Out Of The Race For This Season (1-3)

Jacksonville Jaguars
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Philadelphia Eagles
Carolina Panthers
Seattle Seahawks
Arizona Cardinals

Angling For The #1 Pick In The 2012 Draft (0-4)

St. Louis Rams
Minnesota Vikings
Miami Dolphins
Indianapolis Colts

Based on past Super Bowl history, the most likely team to win the Super Bowl this year will be one of the teams in the 4-0 group or one of the teams in the 3-1 group. Statistically, one of the other teams in the 2-2, 1-3, or 0-4 groups would have to buck long-time historical trends to win the Super Bowl.

Yes, we knew that teams like the Rams, Vikings, Panthers, and Chiefs were probably not going to win the Super Bowl this year, but this data also means that preseason favorites such as the Eagles, Steelers, Jets, Falcons, Bears, and Cowboys are probably not going to compete for a Super Bowl title this year either. It's just statistically improbable after the starts they've had.
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Old 10-01-2013, 05:42 PM    (permalink
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Interesting.

The Super Bowl contenders from both 2011 and 2012 came from the 3-1/4-0 group. And the 0-4 teams all picked really high.

I'd group 3-1 and 4-0 together as the "most likely Super Bowl teams" group.

So this year, after four weeks of 2013, it's like this:

The Super Bowl contenders will come from this group (3-1 and 4-0):

Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos
New England Patriots
Tennessee Titans
New Orleans Saints
Miami Dolphins
Indianapolis Colts
Chicago Bears

Unlikely To Contend For a Super Bowl But Might Make Playoffs (2-2)

San Francisco 49ers
San Diego Chargers
Baltimore Ravens
Houston Texans
New York Jets
Cincinatti Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Dallas Cowboys

Out Of The Race For This Season (1-3)

St. Louis Rams
Minnesota Vikings
Washington Redskins
Philadelphia Eagles
Seattle Seahawks
Arizona Cardinals
Atlanta Falcons

Angling For The #1 Pick In The 2012 Draft (0-4)

Oakland Raiders
New York Giants
Pittsburgh Steelers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jacksonville Jaguars


(Bye week teams: Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers)

There's basically an 86% chance that the Super Bowl winner (and probably both contenders) come from the following group: Broncos, Chiefs, Patriots, Titans, Saints, Dolphins, Bears and Colts.

And there's basically no chance that former "contender" teams of recent years like the Falcons, Giants, Redskins, and Steelers make any Super Bowl appearances, no matter how "hot" people think they might get at the end of the year.
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Old 10-01-2013, 06:01 PM    (permalink
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interesting stats but IMO, a really stupid thread. I dont care what stats you throw at me, theres a reason they play 16 games and not 4. If I took the time to really break down and analyze the correlation of the first 4 games and SB likelihood beyond your overly simple stats (which I won't), Im sure I would find there are plenty of more important factors to a SB than the first 4 games. Ruling a team out of the running b/c they are 1-3 is ridiculous. In 2 weeks, they could easily be 3-3, and right back in the mix. The season is an up-and-down thing, and its all about which teams handle adversity best and improve throughout the course of the season, not how many points they blow teams out by in the first couple weeks of the year.
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Old 10-01-2013, 06:58 PM    (permalink
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interesting stats but IMO, a really stupid thread. I dont care what stats you throw at me, theres a reason they play 16 games and not 4. If I took the time to really break down and analyze the correlation of the first 4 games and SB likelihood beyond your overly simple stats (which I won't), Im sure I would find there are plenty of more important factors to a SB than the first 4 games. Ruling a team out of the running b/c they are 1-3 is ridiculous. In 2 weeks, they could easily be 3-3, and right back in the mix. The season is an up-and-down thing, and its all about which teams handle adversity best and improve throughout the course of the season, not how many points they blow teams out by in the first couple weeks of the year.
You don't seem to understand statistics at all. It's not about precisely picking the winner of the Superbowl, it's about the odds to overcome past trends.

No one is saying it's impossible for an 0-4 team to win the Superbowl. What they're saying is that it's unlikely. This point should have been obvious to you without all of this data.

Being 0-4 is a disadvantage to teams looking to make the play offs. You need X amount of wins to make it to the play offs (X determined by the rest of the teams) and then if you make the play offs, you have to win a string of 3-4 games to get the trophy. If a team can't manage a win in the first 4 games, it would be logical to assume that team cannot win enough games to make the play offs AND win a string of 3-4 games to win the Superbowl.

The data is only there to put an addition to your logical assumption.
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:02 PM    (permalink
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thanks for pointing that starting with a losing record is a disadvantage. But to apply a blanket stat like that to any particular team is crazy. Every team has their own journey. Obviously, it goes without saying any team that is 0-4 right now has an uphill fight in front of them. But to say that in order to win the SB, you have to start the season is strong is crazy. Winning the SB is about who is best at the end of the season.
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:22 PM    (permalink
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thanks for pointing that starting with a losing record is a disadvantage. But to apply a blanket stat like that to any particular team is crazy. Every team has their own journey. Obviously, it goes without saying any team that is 0-4 right now has an uphill fight in front of them. But to say that in order to win the SB, you have to start the season is strong is crazy. Winning the SB is about who is best at the end of the season.
Again, you're not understanding it. No one is saying you HAVE to start the season strong. The statistic is saying that historically it is RARE. The reason this statistic is important is because sometimes fans, analysts and other forms of media will tend to say things like "It's all about who gets hot at the right moment" and without context, that sounds like "it doesn't matter what happens for the first half of the season so long as you finish the second half strong". But the data here shows that is GENERALLY not the case.

You're the one who called the thread "stupid" and didn't seem to get why a group of people on an NFL forum would want to discuss this topic. So I figured you were new to the sport / human interaction and needed someone to point this out for you.
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:23 PM    (permalink
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AcheTen, Oakland isn't 0-4...
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Old 10-01-2013, 08:10 PM    (permalink
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This is mildly interesting, but it just looks like teams that are good win more games and bad team lose games. Not mindblowing that good teams who win have a better chance at winning the Super Bowl. I don't need stats to tell me an 0-4 team isn't going to win a Super Bowl.
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Old 10-01-2013, 08:20 PM    (permalink
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Again, you're not understanding it. No one is saying you HAVE to start the season strong. The statistic is saying that historically it is RARE. The reason this statistic is important is because sometimes fans, analysts and other forms of media will tend to say things like "It's all about who gets hot at the right moment" and without context, that sounds like "it doesn't matter what happens for the first half of the season so long as you finish the second half strong". But the data here shows that is GENERALLY not the case.

You're the one who called the thread "stupid" and didn't seem to get why a group of people on an NFL forum would want to discuss this topic. So I figured you were new to the sport / human interaction and needed someone to point this out for you.
whoever said that "the first half of the season doesnt matter"??? certainly not me. Im responding to things like "1-3 teams are out of the SB race for this season". Starting off poorly is a disadvantage, starting off strong is an advantage. Thats really all I take from this.

Show me stats that show that the first 4 games have a higher correlation with SB wins than games 5-8, 9-12, or 13-16. Then maybe I will listen.
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:06 PM    (permalink
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Out Of The Race For This Season (1-3)

Seattle Seahawks

Uhhhh.......
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:16 PM    (permalink
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Uhhhh.......
The two wins on the road weren't impressive, might as well be losses...plus they let the Jags score more than 2 points, loss. The SF win counts tho.
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:30 PM    (permalink
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Why was this bumped...this thread was from 2011 to start with and it had me a little confused :\
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Old 10-02-2013, 01:28 AM    (permalink
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lol acheten thought enough of this thread to go find it and bump it up.
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Old 10-03-2013, 11:08 AM    (permalink
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interesting stats but IMO, a really stupid thread. I dont care what stats you throw at me, theres a reason they play 16 games and not 4. If I took the time to really break down and analyze the correlation of the first 4 games and SB likelihood beyond your overly simple stats (which I won't), Im sure I would find there are plenty of more important factors to a SB than the first 4 games. Ruling a team out of the running b/c they are 1-3 is ridiculous. In 2 weeks, they could easily be 3-3, and right back in the mix. The season is an up-and-down thing, and its all about which teams handle adversity best and improve throughout the course of the season, not how many points they blow teams out by in the first couple weeks of the year.
I guarantee you that the Super Bowl teams this year will be two of the teams that started 2-2, 3-1, or 4-0.

The teams that started 1-3 or 0-4 are OUT. It just doesn't happen.
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Old 10-03-2013, 11:47 AM    (permalink
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I guarantee you that the Super Bowl teams this year will be two of the teams that started 2-2, 3-1, or 4-0.

The teams that started 1-3 or 0-4 are OUT. It just doesn't happen.
this has nothing to do with the Super Bowl and everything to do with making the playoffs....Statistically, its obviously very unlikely that a team that starts 1-3 or 0-4 makes the playoffs, b/c they have to go 9-3 or better the rest of the year to make the playoffs. But if a team does manage to win 10 or so of their final 12 games and makes the playoffs after a poor start, theres no way you can tell me that they arent as much of a threat to win the SB as a team that started 4-0 and finished with the same record...Of course if a team that starts 4-0 finishes strong and ends up with a bye it gives them a better chance to win the SB b/c their path is easier, but weve seen seeing wild card teams and teams without byes win it all year after year, so its not like there is anything that unlikely about a team pulling that off.
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Old 10-03-2013, 12:12 PM    (permalink
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this has nothing to do with the Super Bowl and everything to do with making the playoffs....Statistically, its obviously very unlikely that a team that starts 1-3 or 0-4 makes the playoffs, b/c they have to go 9-3 or better the rest of the year to make the playoffs. But if a team does manage to win 10 or so of their final 12 games and makes the playoffs after a poor start, theres no way you can tell me that they arent as much of a threat to win the SB as a team that started 4-0 and finished with the same record...Of course if a team that starts 4-0 finishes strong and ends up with a bye it gives them a better chance to win the SB b/c their path is easier, but weve seen seeing wild card teams and teams without byes win it all year after year, so its not like there is anything that unlikely about a team pulling that off.
Good teams don't drop 3 of 4 or 4 of 4 games in the beginning of the season. They just don't.

The first four weeks of the season are a window into the quality of a team. "Getting hot" is just a media narrative; the teams that are left standing at the end show it EARLY in the season.

Those wild card teams like the 2010 Packers, 2005 Steelers, 2007 Giants, 2011 Giants and what not all showed the ability to dominate EARLY in the season. Most of those wild card teams actually started out 3-1 or 2-2 at worst (2007 Giants) and showed the ability to beat teams soundly early on.

And other teams that won the Super Bowl recently like the 2009 Saints and the 2008 Steelers showed that they were dominant teams early in the season and on.
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Old 10-03-2013, 12:25 PM    (permalink
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That raiders aren't 0-4 you schmuck
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