Progression or Regression?

If you haven't taken a look at the website "Grantland" by now, you probably should. The writers over there usually have a pretty decent analysis on most sports topics along with other material. Bill Barnwell, in particular, does a great job with the NFL and did so again with his most recent article The NFL Number's Game. Though he did a great job breaking the 2012 season down in an effort to present WAGs on the 2013, I feel like he is missing a couple key points when it comes to our favorite football team. They are laid out in order below:

Point Differential

The poit differential equation for the Vikings is computed by Pts For / (Pts for + Pts alwd) which puts the Vikings as 379/727 which gives us .52 number and correllates to just over 8 wins the Vikings "should" have gotten last year versus the 10 the actually achieved. Taking this information into account, Barnwell suggests that the Vikings should regress since they "overachieved" from their expected wins in 2012. The problem with this theory is that it doesn't take into account personnel additions or subtractions that would make scoring more or less likely in the coming year. Theoretically, if a team gets better offensively, the expected points should go up and conversely, if a team is overall worse offensively, the expected points should go down. Considering the formula also takes into account the defensive side of the ball, a better defense yields fewer points and a worse defense, more...Basically, points for or allowed cannot be presumed to hold constant if conditions in which those points are scored or allowed are changed. So while the Vikings "over-achieved" last year based on point differential, they have made significant improvements on both sides of the ball that their points for and points allowed should go up and down respectively, which should put their expected win total up near 10 wins...versus 'regressing' in 2013 based on 2012 stats.

Games decided by one score or less:

The Vikings were an incredible 5-1 in games decided by one score or less. One can reasonably assume that a team with a middle-tier quarterback isn't expected to be much over or under the .500 mark in these types of games so the Vikings definitely over-achieved a bit in this area in 2012. However, in 2011 (lest we forget that monstrosity of a season) the Vikings were an abysmal 2-9 in games that fit this criteria. What Barnwell asserts in this article is that these figures don't really do anything to predict how well the team will do in future years in games of this type since it's as much luck as it is anything else that determines the end results of these games. I would like to argue though, that the dramatic upward swing the Vikings took in 2012 from 2011 was due in part to a more experienced coach and quarterback along with the most reliable / best run game in the business. With these factors in mind, I presuming that the Vikings will remain having a leg up on their compeition in close games because of their ability to kill the clock with AD and Frazier is only getting better as a coach.

Strength of Schedule

While Barnwell doesn't specifically address the Vikings in this portion of his article, a rational mind can infer that he's stating that easy schedules lead to inflated records and teams with tough ones fare the worst. Now, that's not exactly a knowledge bombshell being dropped, but it's what he says after that statement that makes things interesting. Barnwell notes how it is difficult to predict strength of schedule before the season begins due largely to the fact that team records can vary wildly from year to year. This in itself doesn't mean the Vikings will be good, but most of the experts out there (and I use that term very loosely) have been stating that due to the Vikings strength of schedule for 2013, it will be hard for them to win 10 games...if that's their only concern with the Vikings this year, I'll take it, odds are the schedule the Vikes face won't be nearly as strong looking come season's end. Or, conversely, the Vikings end up with the strongest opposing schedule and just do what they did to the league's strongest closing 4 game schedule last year...either way works for me.

In the end, I see the Vikings neither progressing nor regressing record wise and believe they will land at the 10 win mark. However, they will definitely be progressing as a team, which means they won't have to "over-achieve" to get those 10 wins. So if the Vikings happen to over-achieve again, look out world...Lombardi will be following his ex-Packer brethren and making the trek to God's country...without the slightest look back.

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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