Every year in the NFL, an average of eight teams either improve or decrease their win total by at least four games.
Let’s call it the “Plus/Minus Four Wins” Rule.
Last year, a whopping 10 teams either improved or declined by four wins from 2010, and eight more had a three-win adjustment. So, more than half the league changed by at least three wins from the previous season.
The NFL is anything but a league of stagnancy.
Here’s a list of teams with at least a four-win change from 2010 to 2011.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
ST. LOUIS RAMS
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
* * *
So, which teams could fit the bill in 2012? Let’s take a look at 10 of the leading candidates (in no particular order).
- San Francisco 49ers (13-3) | The win total still hovers around 10 at most books, but some smart minds are predicting significant regression for the NFC West champs.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) | With a win total at just six, getting up to .500 or better would be a healthy improvement, but Greg Schiano might be able to connect with this roster in Year 1.
- Green Bay Packers (15-1) | They get the NFC West and AFC South, so the schedule isn’t exactly intimidating, but 11-5 would still be a solid season and could likely win the division.
- Minnesota Vikings (3-13) | They play in a tough division, but is 7-9 out of the question? Absolutely not. Especially if Adrian Peterson is as healthy as he’s saying.
- New Orleans Saints (13-3) | Another team that Football Outsiders isn’t high on, predicting only 9.1 wins.
- Indianapolis Colts (2-14) | Shoot, after Andrew Luck’s preseason debut, a 6-10 season is a lock, right? (lol)
- Chicago Bears (8-8) | This one might be a stretch, but Chicago went 11-5 in 2010 and looked like a Super Bowl contender while starting 7-3 last year before injuries took their toll.
- Arizona Cardinals (8-8) | Due for regression according to most advanced statistics. A 12-4 record is out of the realm of possibilities, but 4-12 becomes a possibility if this guy ever plays.
- St. Louis Rams (2-14) | Solid draft. Weak division. New coach Jeff Fisher has won at least six games in 14 of his 16 NFL seasons.
- Buffalo Bills (6-10) | Everyone’s trendy sleeper pick. They haven’t made the playoffs since 1999 (also the last time they won 10 games), and the win total is still at just 8. Is this the year?