Each year, the folks at Football Outsiders do an in-depth projection of each NFL team, using all sorts of fancy, schmanzy computer simulations, logarithms, and all sorts of complicated mathematical formulas — including the Pythagorean theorem.
The end result is a fascinating and sometimes controversial set of predictions for the upcoming season.
Make no mistake: This isn’t a case of eeny-meeny-miney-mo.
So what do the gurus at Football Outsiders see for the Jets and Giants?
Well, let’s put it this way: Rex Ryan would start swearing if he heard what they predicted about the Jets.
“Our projection for the Jets is 9.8 wins,” Football Outsiders editor Bill Barnwell says. “That would give them a wild card berth. We’ve got 10.2 wins for the Patriots and 9.3 for the Dolphins.”
Why the decimal point variations? The Outsiders use a formula called “Defense-adjusted Value Average” (DVOAA), which was created by Football Outsiders founder Aaron Schatz. The statistic measures the success of a given play, compares it to the league average depending on the situation, and applies the formula to every play of the preceding season. It’s basically a way of averaging out how teams do against their opponents, based on the caliber of their play.
“We take that DVOAA and run 10,000 simulations of the [upcoming] season with those figures,” Barnwell says. “We’ll project the DVOAA for the team based on injuries from the previous season, and take variables for predictive value in the past and throw them into a big formula and project how they’ll do based on those formulas.”
Ok, now for the explanation in layman’s terms:
“[If Darrelle Revis ends his holdout], it’s going to be hard for Revis and the pass defense to be as good as they were a year ago,” Barnwell said. “The Jets led the league in DVOAA pass defense, which is not a surprise. But historically, those dominant teams decline the next year. Look at the 2001 Bucs when they went crazy on defense. They had four Hall of Fame type players on that defense. If we’d said they’d regress the next year (which they did), people would have said, ‘Hey, you’re crazy. But that’s what happens.’”
So even if Revis does come back, he’ll be hard-pressed to duplicate last year’s dominating performance.
“He’s still going to be a very, very, very good cornerback,” Barnwell said. “He was by our numbers by far the best cornerback in football. But it’s really difficult to play at that level again. He could really be a great cornerback, but guys that have one really elite year don’t play at that level year-after-year. Dan Marino set the passing record when he was 23 in his second year. You’d think he’d set the passing record every year, but it was only that once. That would be similar with Revis.”
“They’re still going to be a very good defense, but more a top five as opposed to the best in the league.”
Offensively, Barnwell has concerns about second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez.
“He’s got that age gap, and he had such little experience in college. With that in mind, the  interceptions were high. On the other hand, he had a very good running game last year, and he didn’t have to do too much. You can’t say from his rookie year he’ll be a bust or a star.”