ESPN picks NFL teams to win 289 of a possible 256 games

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Now that the NFL schedule is out, people are going through and making game-by-game predictions for each team. That is an impossible task: No one can tell you with any degree of certainty today who’s going to win a game six months from now.

But if you’re going to try it at all, you ought to at least start from the premise that every game that one team wins, another team has to lose. Which means that, assuming there are no ties, NFL teams will go a combined 256-256 this season.

So when ESPN’s team of NFL writers compiled their predictions, it was amusing to see that they picked a total of 289 wins and only 223 losses. Yes, league-wide the Worldwide Leader thinks NFL teams are going to go 289-223, a .564 winning percentage in a world where the only certainty is a .500 winning percentage.

The problem isn’t that ESPN’s staffers went overboard with the best teams. In fact, the best record assigned to any team was 12-4, for the Rams. If anything the folks at ESPN might have understated the number of teams that will have particularly strong records.

No, the problem is that none of ESPN’s writers want to admit that the teams they cover stink. The worst record assigned to any team was 5-11 for the Browns. The next-worst was 6-10 for the Cardinals. And four teams are projected by ESPN to go 7-9. Other than that, every team is predicted by ESPN to go 8-8 or better. That is obviously way too rosy an outlook. Last year there was an 0-16 team, a 3-13 team, two 4-12 teams, four 5-11 teams and three 6-10 teams.

Overall, ESPN’s writers predict that the NFL standings will finish with one 12-4 team, seven 11-5 teams, six 10-6 teams, five 9-7 teams, seven 8-8 teams, four 7-9 teams, one 6-10 team and one 5-11 team. That’s not just overly optimistic, it’s mathematically impossible.

84 responses to “ESPN picks NFL teams to win 289 of a possible 256 games

  1. Used to be the Sports Leader. Now the leader of the wrong “So called Experts” in a seat. Laughable.

  2. I’m not an ESPN fan, but it’s really stupid to hammer them for this. Writers made predictions for the team that they cover, respectively–they’re not conferring with the other writers.

  3. That’s just “ESPN math” which is perfectly logical in their minds, like 11 of 12 footballs being more than 2 pounds under the limit.

  4. Somehow I suspect that ESPN is not the first ones who have done this. For 50 years, we partake in the foolish task in predicting wins/losses and I’m this is not the first time this has happened. To sit there and add up all of the wins and losses suggests that someone has a little too much time on their hands.

  5. “No, the problem is that none of ESPN’s writers want to admit that the teams they cover stink.”
    —————-
    No, I think it is rather that none of ESPN’s writers want to admit that THEY stink.

  6. Who reported this, their numbers Guru Chris Mortensen?

    ESPN = Especially Suck Picking Numbers

  7. A) The point of a Schedule Release Day record guess is dumb…the 16 teams your team is playing next year has been known since probably week 16 last year in most cases. The schedule doesn’t really change much. Also, the draft has not happened, any late FA signings have not been made, some post June 1 cuts have not been made, injuries in training camp/preseason have not happened yet, etc. Who pays attention to this garbage?

    B) It sounds like they compiled a best guess from writers in each city covering each team, which mean obviously the win totals are not likely to match a perfect 256-256. If you have ONE person (or one team) going game by game, yes it should – and has to – match to give your guesses any sort of credence.

  8. ESPN consists of those people in high school that would argue with the teacher about “why do I need to learn math? I won’t ever use math skills in life”

  9. Not really unexpected from the “Worldwide Leader in Lame” aka the Especially Stupid People Network.

  10. I don’t really understand the point of projecting season records right after the schedule is released. We haven’t even had the draft yet, much less started training camp.

    Injuries are always the ultimate equalizer, and it’s impossible who will suffer season-ending injuries such as torn ACLs, torn Achilles, and/or torn biceps.

    Besides, in the specific case of the Browns, haven’t we all been saying for years that this is finally the year they turn the corner and show signs of improvement? And we’ve ultimately been proven wrong every single time?

  11. They may be right, considering the Jets will likely lose far more than 16 times in the regular season, it should give the other teams the ability to overachieve

  12. How do the Seahawks get two SNF games this year when they didn’t even make the playoffs last year?

  13. Florio called this one earlier yesterday. The NFL schedule show started at 8PM. By 8:15 Louis Riddick was picking apart the Patriots schedule and counting the games the Patriots would win this year. What a useless exercise. At 8:16 I switched to the NBA’s Philly Miami game to see an event that actually counted for something.

  14. najacoo22 says:
    April 20, 2018 at 8:26 am
    I’m not an ESPN fan, but it’s really stupid to hammer them for this. Writers made predictions for the team that they cover, respectively–they’re not conferring with the other writers.
    ——————————-
    NO! The linked article is a single overall assessment, predicting and ranking the entire league from 1 to 32. As such, PFT’s criticism is spot on.

  15. What’s arguably even dumber is wasting your time predicting wins and losses when we haven’t even had the draft yet, much less gone through OTAs and preseason and all the injuries that follow. We’re nowhere near close to having enough info to make a logical prediction yet.

  16. espn has fallen so far so fast that it’s a shell of itself in the 1980s. When you put stupid people in charge of things they don’t understand, well, espn.

  17. ESPN’s typically negative prediction for Pats overlooks the reason they started 2-2 was because they began the year (and finished it) as one of the most banged up teams missing over half their starters, plus Ninkovich (their best lineman) a sudden late-preseason retirement. They are correct the Pats have a tough schedule again, plus lots of primetime, but are too mealy mouthed to explain Pats for 17yrs have had a mostly tough schedule owing to being in the SB or AFCCG for 12 of them.

  18. Perhaps ESPN was counting moral victories – you know, the ones needed to obtain participation trophies. Moral victory: when you lose to a good team (like the Patriots) by less than 10 points.

  19. ESPN hasn’t been relevant for a long time, so why are you getting so excited, Michael David Smith? And the NFL Network isn’t any better.
    As far as I’m concerned, you can take all these ESPN and NFL Network studio shows and throw them in the river. Because the hosts are usually a bunch of millennials who try to out-shout everyone else and ramble on about unimportant garbage to make themselves seem important.
    ESPN used to be the classiest sports network whose employees were all about informing their audience all about the sports they cover. Now they are filled with a bunch of know-nothings who babble on without saying anything.
    One day I tuned into the Morning NFL Show on the NFL Network and the idiots they had hosting it (3 men and a woman) spent 5 minutes talking about the way NFL players dress. They would all make dopey comments and then giggle like school girls. I kid you not. I didn’t bother to change it at first because I was working on my computer. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and I changed the channel to an old gangster movie from the 30’s.

  20. You’re missing the forest for the trees. If you want the overall prediction record to be even, have them go week to week and pick every game individually. When you ask them to give every team’s predicted record, they are using the 16 game W-L record as a gauge- 6 wins means bad team, 8 wins means average team, 10 good, 12 great. They aren’t going through every team’s schedule game by game. When doing it this way, they aren’t allowing for the anomaly teams- the 1 & 2 win teams, and the 14 & 15 win teams, thus it won’t be perfect.

  21. After reading this article I believe this is a non-issue. If each Sportswriter picked the record for ONLY the team they cover of course there will be a discrepancy, in fact I would be more surprised if the math worked out.

  22. Each team writer wrote their prediction. Predictions were compiled into one article. All 32 individual predictions didn’t match perfectly.

    Nothing to see here.

  23. This confirms that everyone just says the same cookie cutter numbers that others have said in the past: Contenders go 12-4, average of the pack goes 8-8 and bad teams go 5-11. Hey ESPN, try doing some ACTUAL analysis.

  24. gtodriver says:
    April 20, 2018 at 8:28 am
    I know where some of the extra wins are. Check out the Packers projected record…
    ///////////////////////////////

    Let the whining begin. Based on team records from 2017, the Packers are assigned the No. 1 toughest schedule in 2018. The Packers are still projected by ESPN to finish ahead of the Vikings and their overrated “vaunted” defense.

    That’s a bitter pill to swallow.

    Bon Appetit’

  25. This is a bit disingenuous. The picks for each team were made by separate writers, focused on that team’s schedule alone, without regard for everyone else’s picks.

    The excess number of wins averages out to about one per team, so it’s not that far off from adding up.

    But I do agree that optimism runs too high this time of year. Like your average Eagle fan these days, the writers are inclined to overemphasize the positive potential ahead.

  26. So the Cardinals only improved their roster and are supposed to win fewer games? Lol, I guess I know who the sharps will be backing this year.

  27. So the NE Patriots have won 12 or more games in the last 8 seasons. Come back pretty close to intact but the experts don’t predict they can win 12 again. Must have doubts about that 40 year old MVP quarterback.

  28. For some data validation and accuracy is difficult.
    I doubt that the Best & Brightest from our great universities look at ESPN as a destination.

  29. There’s three kinds of people in this world – those that can count, and those that can’t.

  30. The Patriots wont have 12 wins this season,they will go 10-6,the dynasty is coming to an end in ’18.

  31. ESPN also didn’t understand what PSI means and how all NFL teams film one another during an NFL game. They’re a little slow.

    ***

    FIRE GOODELL!!1! PSI AnD SOMETHING BALl PRESSURE AND THAT BERMAN GUY!!1!

    That’s honestly what Patriots fans sound like to me.

  32. billh1947 says:
    April 20, 2018 at 11:26 am
    The Patriots wont have 12 wins this season,they will go 10-6,the dynasty is coming to an end in ’18.
    ——————————–
    You sound like a broken record, no worries, some year in the far future you’ll be right!

    10-6…Have you looked at their schedule??

    Their Cheerleaders could go 10-6…

  33. I am all for ESPN bashing but this is not reasonable.

    Different writers created predictions for their team. It wasn’t a collaboration. The Giants writer saying they will beat the Eagles twice is not linked to the Eagles writer saying the Eagles will beat the Giants twice.

  34. soaringelvis says:
    April 20, 2018 at 11:40 am
    billh1947 says:
    April 20, 2018 at 11:26 am
    The Patriots wont have 12 wins this season,they will go 10-6,the dynasty is coming to an end in ’18.
    ——————————–
    You sound like a broken record, no worries, some year in the far future you’ll be right!

    10-6…Have you looked at their schedule??

    Their Cheerleaders could go 10-6…
    ___________________________

    Same schedule as every season – 6 cakewalk games and 10 favorable circumstance games.

    If the Pats went 10-6 it would mean they were 4-6 outside the weakest division in football.

  35. bkinacti0n says:
    April 20, 2018 at 12:09 pm
    soaringelvis says:
    April 20, 2018 at 11:40 am
    billh1947 says:
    April 20, 2018 at 11:26 am
    The Patriots wont have 12 wins this season,they will go 10-6,the dynasty is coming to an end in ’18.
    ——————————–
    You sound like a broken record, no worries, some year in the far future you’ll be right!

    10-6…Have you looked at their schedule??

    Their Cheerleaders could go 10-6…
    ___________________________

    Same schedule as every season – 6 cakewalk games and 10 favorable circumstance games.

    If the Pats went 10-6 it would mean they were 4-6 outside the weakest division in football.

    ————

    The weakest division in football is the AFC North. I cannot remember the last time one of those teams beat the Pats. The Pats played and swept the division two years ago and pummeled the Steelers one more time for good measure in the playoffs.

  36. ESPN is probably including all of the off-season championship games the vikings fans are telling us they’ll win this year.

  37. I don’t want to pat myself on the back but I did post this to PFT yesterday. Where’s the attribution?

  38. I know the logic they used. As an example, any game the Cards win that Sam Bradford is able to finish counts as 2 wins.

  39. Writers assigned to specific teams don’t want to be too brutally honest or they get blasted all season covering said team. Lets be honest, you can shave 4 wins right off Clara’s record blindfolded.

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