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Consistent franchises

Posted by Doug on March 26, 2007

In the comments to Friday's post, PackerNation observed:

Look at the Jets….they’re 6-10 or 10-6 or somewhere in between every year

And indeed, they have been in that range for 8 of the past 10 seasons. Apologies to PackerNation for lifting his quote out of its context, but I wasn't interested as much by the context as by the the fact that it gave me an idea. Namely, which franchises have been the most and least consistent over the past several seasons?

So I decided to calculate each teams' standard deviation of seasonal wins since 1978. As is typical, I made a guess about what the answer was going to be before I ran the query. As is very from from typical, my guesses were pretty close.

I immediately thought the 49ers would turn out to the be least consistent team; they've been way up and way back down a few times over the last few decades. They've got as many Lombardi trophies and less-than-5-win-seasons combined as they have between-6-and-10-win seasons. They do indeed have the highest standard deviation: 3.96 wins. Other inconsistent franchises include the Colts, Titans, Patriots, and Bears.

You might think the 49ers have the highest average number of wins during the period in question, but they don't. In fact, there are three teams with higher winning percentages and, oddly enough, all three of those teams rank among the most consistent franchises. They are the Dolphins, Broncos, and Steelers. The Dolphins, for what it's worth, were my guess at most consistent.

But the Dolphins have not, in fact, been the most consistent. No, the most consistent team is also the worst (not counting the Texans). It's the Cardinals, of course, and in my mind this obliterates any argument that Lion or Bengal fans think they might have in a franchise futility contest.

I'll close with a fun chart:


========== Number of N-win seasons ============
AvWins StDev 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
==================+===============================================
crd 5.91 1.69 | 4 1 6 3 9 5 1
htx 4.80 1.72 | 1 1 1 1 1
mia 9.53 2.12 | 1 5 4 4 7 5 2 1
sea 8.02 2.14 | 1 1 3 9 4 5 4 1 1
min 8.48 2.19 | 1 3 3 10 4 3 3 1 1
den 9.65 2.41 | 1 3 2 5 5 4 5 1 1 1 1
pit 9.44 2.42 | 1 1 1 2 6 2 7 2 3 3 1
kan 8.37 2.46 | 3 2 4 6 3 4 3 2 2
det 6.41 2.53 | 1 2 5 2 4 2 7 2 2 2
phi 8.80 2.60 | 1 3 5 7 1 1 5 2 3 1
rav 8.32 2.63 | 1 1 2 1 1 2 2 1
gnb 8.37 2.65 | 2 2 2 4 5 6 3 1 4
nyj 7.52 2.66 | 1 3 4 4 5 2 4 4 1 1
atl 6.90 2.69 | 1 1 1 2 3 2 6 3 4 3 3
nor 7.31 2.70 | 1 1 1 3 2 6 7 2 1 1 3 1
cle 7.05 2.72 | 1 3 2 3 2 4 2 4 2 2 1
nyg 8.22 2.74 | 1 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 6 1 3
tam 6.54 2.80 | 1 2 3 3 1 2 5 6 2 1 3
was 8.64 2.88 | 3 2 1 6 3 4 2 4 2 1 1
rai 8.40 2.88 | 1 4 3 2 4 5 4 2 3 1
car 7.50 2.90 | 1 2 2 5 1 1
jax 8.50 2.93 | 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 1 1
cin 6.68 2.94 | 3 1 1 1 6 4 2 1 5 4 1
sdg 7.77 2.97 | 1 2 4 1 4 5 1 4 2 4 1
ram 8.00 3.01 | 1 1 2 3 4 2 2 2 5 3 3 1
buf 8.05 3.05 | 2 2 3 4 2 3 5 2 2 1 1 2
dal 8.87 3.05 | 1 7 3 4 3 1 3 2 3 1 1
chi 8.38 3.20 | 1 1 2 2 3 2 2 1 5 3 4 3
nwe 8.46 3.24 | 2 1 5 4 7 2 2 3 2 1
oti 8.01 3.30 | 2 2 4 4 2 4 3 3 1 1 3
clt 7.15 3.62 | 1 1 3 3 4 2 3 1 3 2 3 1 2
sfo 9.40 3.96 | 1 4 3 3 2 6 2 2 1 2 3

Fine print: a "10-win-season" is actually one in which the team's winning percentage, when multiplied by 16, gets rounded to 10. Likewise, the AvWins and StDev columns in the chart above are actually 16*AvWinPct and 16*StDevOfWinPct, respectively. All this junk is only relevant for strike years and seasons that have ties.