NFL Preseason Doesn't Matter

This is the kind of earth shattering analytical finding that makes a blogger's career. 

My New York Football Giants went undefeated in the preseason despite not looking good at actually playing football. So I took a look at the last 10 years of data to determine does performance in preseason actually matter when predicting regular season performance. The correlation between preseason and regular season win percentage is only 0.072 which is not surprisingly crazy low. 

Take a look at this interactive Sankey chart to show the difference in preseason and regular season performance by year and team. Click the color legend to filter by the team's postseason success.

Play around with it and let me know what you think in the comments below. Also, I added some interesting findings after the break. Thanks.



Some interesting findings:
  • No team has ever won the Super Bowl despite never winning a preseason game. Only one team has won the Super Bowl after going undefeated in the preaseason; the 2013 Seattle Seahawks.
  • The Indianapolis Colts perform better in the preseason than they do the regular season. The Colts improved their winning percentage from the preseason every year in the last ten years except in 2011 when Peyton Manning sat out with a neck injury. This year they were 0 and 4. 
  • The Detroit Lions are the opposite. Every year except 2005 the Lions preseason performance was better than their regular season performance. The year they went 0 and 16 they actually were undefeated in the preseason. This year they went 3 and 1.
  • The Cleveland Browns aren't great.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles have the strongest negative correlation of any team: -0.747. Every year they have an above .500 record in the preseason the Eagles failed to make the playoffs. And every year but one the Eagles were below .500 in the preseason they went to the playoffs. This year the Eagles were 2 and 2 in the preseason.
  • The St. Louis Rams also had a strong negative correlation: -0.689. Eight out of ten years the Rams had a .500 record or better in the preseason but never made the playoffs. In 2004, the only year in the last decade they made the playoffs, they only won one preseason game.
  • The New Orleans Saints have the strongest positive correlation: 0.562. Five out of six years the Saints had a .500 record or better in the preseason they made the playoffs.
  • In 2010, every team that made the playoffs had a .500 record or worse.



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