The Most Overrated Teams

Note: Only two teams today.  Let me know if you’d like to see more. Since I’m nominally Eagles focused, I’m hesitant to spend too much time on other teams.  If everyone is interested though, I’ll parse the projections for more teams.

Yesterday I showed the most “underrated” teams heading into the 2013 season, with Carolina and Washington emerging as two to keep an eye on.  I think the FO projections for both are a bit aggressive, but I still come down higher than the Bovada lines.  Today, naturally, we’re going to other way and looking at the most OVERrated teams in the league.

Here are all of the teams for which the Bovada O/U lines are higher than the FO projected wins.

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 11.48.55 AM

Most obvious is the number of “overrated” teams and the relative magnitude of the differences.  Simply, compared to what we say yesterday, it seems there are a lot more overrated teams than underrated.  Before we get to the specific teams, I want to illustrate a very important point about gambling lines. 

Remember what I said about the Cowboys (on Tuesday)?  I expect the O/U lines for the Cowboys to usually be artificially high as a result of the number of “homer” bets placed on the team each year.  While there are only a few teams I suspect of having such serious distortions, it’s logical to think that, throughout the entire league, lines are artificially high.

basically, fans are optimistic.  This, in turn, makes them terrible gamblers.  What’s the upshot?

If we add up all the O/U lines from Bovada, we get 262.5 wins.

So what?

There is a maximum of 256 wins available.

The Football Outsiders projections, of course, add to 256.1.

This means that, just as the chart above shows, teams are naturally more likely to be overrated than underrated.

Now let’s look at specific teams.


The Falcons stand out as the most significantly overrated team in the league, with a O/U 2.4 wins higher than the FO projection. The Falcons were very good last year (won 13 games).  The team kept most of its roster intact, and added Steven Jackson.  Matt Ryan is still the QB, and should be entering his prime.

In that light, expecting the team to win just 10 games this year (a decline of 3 from last season) seems very reasonable.  What gives?

– The Falcons point differential from last year points to an 11 win team.  When projecting improvements/declines for each team, its important to focus on the “true” value for the previous year, rather than the actual W/L.

– The 2012 Falcons faced the 27th toughest schedule in the league (according to FO).  In 2013, the team looks to be facing one of the top five toughest.

– Last year, Atlanta recovered 64.29% of all fumbles, including more than 72% of the opposing teams’ fumbles.  Both those measures are likely to regress.

– In the same vein, the team lost just 4 fumbles last year.  The long-term NFL average is 11.

– The division is likely to be much tougher this year.  Sean Payton is back.  Carolina, as we saw yesterday, is likely to improve substantially.  Tampa Bay, while being a bit of a wildcard, certainly appears to have made substantial roster improvements.

All in all, I’m inclined to agree with FO here.  This looks like an 8-8 team, with the potential for a serious implosion.


The Vikings won 10 games last year, still feature Adrian Peterson, and have a young QB that should be expected to improve.  And yet, the O/U is 7.5 and FO projects the team to record just 5.5 wins.

Using point differential, the “true value” of this team last year was actually pretty high.  Using a 2.67 exponent and the Pythagorean formula, the 2012 Vikings were a 9 win team.

So what’s the case against?  And more importantly, just how much regression should we expect?

– Christian Ponder is the “young QB”.  I’m not a fan.  I’m not going to delve into Ponder-specific stats here, but take my word that things aren’t looking good for the “Ponder is a franchise-QB” crowd.  If you’re interested but don’t want to do the research, buy the FO Almanac, they’ve got more in there.

– Adrian Peterson had a HISTORICALLY good year in 2012.  He is unlikely to replicate that this season.  He will still likely be very good, but “very good” won’t be enough to carry the team like he did last year.

– The team faced the 7th toughest schedule last season (Pro-Football-Reference), which would normally be a good sign.  However, the schedule this year looks to be even tougher.  It’s always hard to project team strength before the season, but consider the team’s non-division schedule includes games against the following teams (and Cleveland):

Seattle (@), Baltimore, Cincinnati (@), Pittsburgh (U.K), Carolina, the Giants (@), the Redskins, and the Eagles.

Not all of those teams will be as good as expected (Giants and Pittsburgh would be my picks for disappointment), but it will almost definitely be an incredibly difficult run of games.  Meanwhile, the Vikings still have to play two games against Green Bay.

– Minnesota was middle-of-the-pack in turnovers last season, and it’s recovery rate was right around 50%.  That means we should expect regression, but it also means that Turnover Luck isn’t a likely source of improvement either.

– Lastly, the team lost Percy Harvin.

Putting it all together, this could be a very ugly season for the Vikings.  As far as a personal projection goes, I have the Vikings in the 4-5 win range, which is even lower than FO.  While there are a number of explanations (including the points above), it really comes down to Christian Ponder versus a very tough schedule.  I think it’s likely to be a train wreck.

Lastly, I said yesterday that it might be instructive to simply take the average between the Bovada O/Us and the FO projections and use that as a projection for the year.  I’m still doing research regarding the relative accuracy of each, but the average looks promising.  Regardless, here are the values (remember that they’ll be slightly inflated due to the optimism distortion I mentioned at the top).

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 12.42.07 PM





2 thoughts on “The Most Overrated Teams

  1. Obviously there were injuries, but this is looking very smart: “All in all, I’m inclined to agree with FO here. This looks [the falcons] like an 8-8 team, with the potential for a serious implosion.”

  2. Pingback: Revisiting PreSeason Projections: Overrated Teams | Eagles Rewind

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