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Old 09-10-2019, 02:11 PM   #1
Giant Octopodes
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Patriots Path to the Playoffs (Updated debunking)

We all already know this, I'm just updating the knowledge regarding the fallacy that the Patriots have the easiest path to the Playoffs, year after year. There are 3 factors to consider:

1) Scheduling. The argument is the Pats somehow have the easiest schedule in the NFL, year after year. Is it true?

As scheduling is fixed other than 2 games per year, the Patriots inherently CANNOT have an advantage in scheduling, unless it's related to easy wins in their division. For those not already aware, the schedule is determined as follows:
6 games: The other three teams in your division, played twice each
4 games: One of the other divisions in your conference (so over a 3 year rotation you play all teams in the conference)
4 games: One of the divisions in the other conference (so over a 4 year span you play all teams in the other conference, and as such all teams in the NFL)
2 games: The same place team from the 2 divisions in your conference which are not part of the current rotation. This is the most confusing part, so let's give an example. If the AFC East is playing the AFC South this year, and the Patriots finished #1 in the division, they play the #1 team from the AFC West and AFC North, in addition to the rest of the slate, while the 4th place finisher from the AFC East plays the 4th place finisher from the AFC West and North.

Homefield rotates as well, so there is virtually no leeway for how the NFL can schedule so as to provide an advantage to the Patriots. The single biggest advantage they have on their schedule, and the reason they can have a tougher schedule than others in the division, is they don't have to face themselves.

2) Wins needed to get #1 in a division. The argument is the AFC East is so weak, it doesn't matter how many wins the Patriots have, they win the division automatically. Is it true?

It doesn't matter how many wins the #1 team got, as long as you have more than the #2 team you win a division. So if you swapped out the Pats with the #1 team in a division any given year, would they still win the division?




As we can see, the AFC East Does require fewer wins than any other division. However the difference is a whopping 1 win on average between them and the "toughest" division. Most importantly, swap out the Patriots with the division winner for any division, any year, and they still win the division, with the lone exception of the AFC west in 2018. 71/72 times isn't too bad though.

3.) Difficulty of competition. The argument goes that the Patriots are gifted 6 free wins every year because the AFC East is so terrible. Is that true?

Here's the Patriots record against every team, and every division, since 2010. The "difference" is the difference in expected wins per year if the Patriots were in that division.








Their overall record vs the AFC is 87-21 (.805) and vs the NFC it's 26-10 (.722)
As you can see, if they were in the AFC West or South or the NFC North, it would actually Increase their expected win probability! The AFC North, as well as the NFC South or East, would theoretically decrease it by less than half a game, but certainly smaller sample sizes play a role in that. Nowhere is that more evident than the NFC West, which is due to 2012, in which 3 of their 4 losses for the year came from that division. They went 3-1 against them when they faced them again in 2016, but haven't faced them since, and as such the sample size remains small.

In short, no, they don't get 6 free wins per year. They rarely win all 6, and win vs them at about the same clip they win vs everyone else.

Anyway I know everyone already knows this, and has seen numbers for this kind of thing before, I just wanted updated numbers for this current run from 2010+, and since I went to the effort of getting them for myself, figured I would share in case anyone else wanted them.


Last edited by Giant Octopodes; 09-10-2019 at 02:54 PM..
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:19 PM   #2
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ok so apparently tables won't work, who knew? I put the data in so it's Slightly more visible, but does anyone know a way I can actually get tables to work so I can format this in a legible fashion?
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giant Octopodes View Post
ok so apparently tables won't work, who knew? I put the data in so it's Slightly more visible, but does anyone know a way I can actually get tables to work so I can format this in a legible fashion?

copy & paste from a different program?
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:55 PM   #4
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ok went with images because it seemed easiest, sorry then it can't be copy / pasted out of here, but hey, I'm on a time constraint, my apologies.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:53 PM   #5
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Still gotta win the games. Belichicks system gives them more of an advantage than the schedule. Oh well ... Hopefully the team can get their focus this week it's in Miami where they have lost a lot.
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