Think of this, the two Super Bowl teams from last season won’t be in the playoffs this year and even more revealing is that of 2015’s top eight teams - record wise - only the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs will be returning to the postseason. Now that’s parody folks.
With that, it wasn’t an easy year to do all this. Metrics from the previous season didn’t translate at all and we saw some big surprises like the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders, as previously defunct teams rising all the way to the top.
It was only fitting to end the year on a wild Week 17 with lots of unusual spreads. As we said the best advice we could have given before the week was to stay put and stay away, though we did still offer three picks going 1-and-2, taking us to 31-30-3 on the season.
We could have done better without a doubt, but given a week in which we went 4-and-4 on spreads over 4.5 points per YPP and EW went 2-and-5 in differentials over 3 points it could have gone much worse.
As we get ready to break down and analyze the spreads for every single playoff game from here on out, here’s our final analysis of our regular season picks.
The Broncos win the last one for Kubes
We mentioned before the game that the factors in this one were endless and ultimately we were aided by a few of those. Paxton Lynch didn’t end up playing, while Matt McGloin was knocked out of the game by the end of the first half, meaning that the quarterback situation greatly aided our pick with Denver seeming a safe bet to cover the 2.5 spread throughout.
Regardless of that, the Oakland Raiders seemed demoralized defensively as their Super Bowl aspirations were clearly defunct with the loss of Derek Carr in Week 16. That we did see coming.
While the Broncos had completely different motivations, beyond spoiling the Raiders divisional crown aspirations as they did their best to send off head coach Gary Kubiak with a win in what was surprisingly his last game. As reports broke Sunday before the game we didn’t foresee this added motivation though the metrics certainly proved out to be right favoring the Broncos over their small spread at home.
As the last win of the regular season, we’ll take it.
The Bolts hold tough for two quarters
As we said previewing this pick, motivations would play a big part for the Chargers in this game making it hard to predict but going off the metrics San Diego seemed like an easy choice.
The Chargers held tough for the first two quarters or so closing their deficit to 20-17 by the beginning of the third with a Jahleel Addae 90 yard interception return.
They also outgained the Chiefs in total yards and matched their 26 first downs but just lacked some concrete play when it mattered. They had more penalties, turnovers, and fewer red zone opportunities.
The usual devastating Tyreek Hill return - for an easy 95 yards none the less - was the real backbreaker at the end of the third quarter putting KC up 34-17 and our 4.5 point cover permanently out of reach.
We won't miss betting on the Bolts though their encouraging play this year might make them a team worth keeping an eye on in 2017 as their young defense makes some more strides and they fix a few more holes on the offensive line.
The Bears pass defense disappoints
We had a decent little run with the Bears there for a while but that’s come to a grinding halt the past few weeks as Chicago’s limped to the finish line.
After having played some fairly efficient passing defense this season the Bears allowed Sam Bradford to go off for three touchdowns in the air to the tune of 250 yards on an NFL-record 75-percent completion mark, which completely defied either team's performance so far this season.
Kyle Rudolph was a beast for the Vikings dominating with 11 grabs and 117 yards, plus a touchdown. As Bradford's primary weapon with the Bears have few answers to stop him.
Chicago’s pass rush was inexistent and the offense took some major steps back, in one of the worst performances they’ve had all year. The ground game found an another fine performance from Jordan Howard but that was about all they could muster on offense. This also played right into the Vikings hand who were happy to allow Howard to gain yardage with little big play impact.
Assessing the final EW totals for each team at the end of the 2016-17 season
There will be plenty of time to look further at our estimated win figures for the season. But as an exercise in seeing what teams matched up with their win totals and which didn’t here’s how our Pythagorean theorem would have estimated the wins for each team in the NFL.
As you’ll see in the chart below, per the expected win formula San Diego, Jacksonville, and Chicago are the teams that were the unluckiest, if you will, with the projections having them as 2.5-3 wins better then their final tally.
The bottom of the list is just as telling with the Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans, and New York Giants having over performed their expected win totals by a good amount and being prime regression candidates for the 2017 season.
Here’s the entire chart below. There's no sneak preview of the Wild Card week here as we’ll be going in-depth on each and every game in the podcast and our picks piece coming up so keep your eyes peeled for that.