One of the things that jumps out to readers of Footballoutsiders is that they try to let the numbers speak for themselves. They aren’t afraid to take a bold stance if the data calls for it. Nowhere is that more evident than their utter rejection of popular logic in evaluating the AFC South for the 09 Almanac.
Our long held opinion is that Houston, if Matt Schuab is healthy, will be the second best team in the South. The Outsiders disagree, saying:
Still, the Texans are basically the same team they were a year ago: slightly below average. They have no magic statistical indicator that portends success.
Their feeling is that the Texans good offense and bad run defense will translate into just about 7 wins and only a 22% of being in the playoff hunt.
So what of last year’s division winner, the Titans? We are less concerned with them because of the loss of Haynesworth, and the realization that Kerry Collins is unlikely to duplicate his ’08 results. FO, has similar thoughts:
The Tennessee defense will continue its slide from dominant in 2007 to very good in 2008 to above average in 2009. That leaves the Titans in an awkward position, relying on their offense to get them back to the playoffs.
They call Albert Haynesworth “a singular player” and don’t expect the Titans to easily replace him. Their projection is for 9.3 wins, but with a 64% chance of being in the playoff hunt or better. So on this point, we are essentially agreed. The Titans will be formidable, but not nearly as good in 2009.
The biggest point of departure we have from the 1s and 0s of FO would be about the Jacksonville Jaguars. They have the Jags as the second best team in the South, and are calling for a 10.2 win season. The guys at FO have always recognized that it takes both common sense and good math skills to predict football. They joke about how sometimes they don’t even believe their own numbers. Last year they had the Ravens as a playoff team, and didn’t really believe it themselves until it happened.
The Jags are that team this year. I scoured the article for a quote that would explain or justify how the Jags could get to 10 wins. I couldn’t find it. The article is mostly a hilarious recap of just how inept the Jags have been at drafting for the better part of the last 5 plus seasons. The closest thing I found to optimism was the final summary of the team in 2009:
Years of mistakes can be painted over in a miracle season, and our projections favor a turnaround in Jacksonville. Smith must move forward as he tries to separate himself from the failures of the past collective. We’re going to find out in 2009 whether the Jaguars’ story ends with the line, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement. You have to hand it to these guys, they report what the numbers say, but they don’t try to shoe horn in a false narrative about a team. Neither FO nor 18to88 can see any reason to like the Jags to rebound in 2009.
I guess they haven’t invented a computer yet that can fully understand Jack Del Rio’s capacity to sink a team. If you still need a reason to plunk down the $12 for a copy of the 2009 Almanac, look no further than the Jaguars team report. It is one of the funniest, most satisfying reads I’ve had in some time.
This ain’t happening.