Bleacher Report makes inaccurate NFL predictions

We get it, math is hard.
Image: Getty Images

NFL fans are in purgatory. The season seems close, but the preseason hasn’t even started. We’re seeing clips from training camp, but don’t really know how good or bad each team looks. It’s the time of year when hot takes and predictions run rampant. Nobody knows how anything is going to go, so the media (myself included) take out-of-context clips from training camp and practice and try to make a bold claim that will get a ton of clicks and interactions on social media.

The key is to say something that is somewhat believable because if you get a few people defending you in the comments, you seem all the more credible and your bogus take turns into a bold statement rather than an obvious claim or a near-impossible outcome. Well, with Bleacher Report’s latest NFL win-loss predictions, they just blew that out of the water, because their predictions are literally impossible. Here, I’ll explain.

First things first, I’m going to lay out what they project for each team’s win-loss record. Again, these are Bleacher Report’s predictions (* – playoff team; ** – potential playoff team):

AFC East

Buffalo Bills: 13-4*

Miami Dolphins: 10-7**

New England Patriots: 8-9

New York Jets: 6-11

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals: 11-6*

Baltimore Ravens: 10-7**

Cleveland Browns: 10-7**

Pittsburgh Steelers: 6-11

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts: 12-5*

Tennessee Titans: 9-8

Jacksonville Jaguars: 7-10

Houston Texans: 4-13

AFC West

Los Angeles Chargers: 11-6*

Kansas City Chiefs: 10-7**

Denver Broncos: 10-7**

Las Vegas Raiders: 9-8

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles: 11-6*

Dallas Cowboys: 9-8

Washington Commanders: 8-9

New York Giants: 7-10

NFC North

Green Bay Packers: 11-6*

Minnesota Vikings: 10-7*

Detroit Lions: 7-10 (listed in their article at 7-9, just a typo)

Chicago Bears: 4-13

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 12-5*

New Orleans Saints: 11-6*

Carolina Panthers: 7-10

Atlanta Falcons: 4-13

NFC West

Los Angeles Rams: 11-6*

San Francisco 49ers: 10-7*

Arizona Cardinals: 9-8

Seattle Seahawks: 4-13

Do you see the issue here? It’s not with any particular team. It’s with the standings as a whole. Never mind the fact that, since 2004 there’s always been at least one team in the NFL with less than four wins every season. Yeah, there’s no way the Falcons, Seahawks, Bears, and Texans all win at least four games this year. That’s not the point. It’s only part of it.

The issue is that when we add up each team’s win total from these predictions, we get 281 wins. When we add up each team’s loss total, we get 263. Alright! So, we’re going to see more wins than losses this year! That’s awesome! Wait a minute. That’s literally impossible.

In case you haven’t realized, the record across the league will be .500. It’s .500 every year because, for every win, there has to be a loss. Even if there’s a tie, that removes both one win and one loss, and the equilibrium is achieved once again. There’s never been a season of any team sport ever where the number of wins was greater or less than the number of losses, so this is actually an insanely bold take from Bleacher Report. Not only would it be a world first, but it would break math altogether. I wonder what the Vegas odds are of that happening? Probably extremely low.

I’ve done win-loss projections in the past, but I’ve always worked to make sure that for every 5-12 team there was a team going 12-5 to match up, because if I’m going to make predictions, I may as well try to predict something that can actually come true.

I get that it’s easy to get overly excited about some teams after the fever dream that has been this past offseason. There are lots of reasons to think several teams are going to reach new heights, but for every team that does, there will be a new team failing to meet expectations. By my count, there will not be a single disappointing team in the NFL next year, every team expected to be good will have 10 or more wins, every team expected to be bad will have seven or fewer, and every team projected to be mediocre will have eight or nine. There’s no boldness in those claims. It seems like just a shallow attempt to keep every fanbase all smiles and giggles because their team won’t falter. News flash! Some of them will! Welcome to the real world! Do better, Bleacher Report.

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