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Checkdowns: Colts cutting it close

Posted by Chase Stuart on December 19, 2009

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I was reading The Count over at the Wall Street Journal, and this article caught my eye. Carl Bialik noted that Indianapolis has won eight of its 14 games by eight points or fewer. This made wonder which team set the record for most wins by eight or fewer points? What records did they have and how did they fare in the post-season?

The table below shows the number of wins of eight or fewer points, the overall wins, losses and ties, and how many wins and losses in the playoffs each team had. While the Colts are cutting it close, three teams won all of their games by such a small margin.

<8 w tm yr w l t pw pl
10 HOU 1978 10 6 0 2 1
9 CAR 2003 11 5 0 3 1
9 IND 1999 13 3 0 0 1
9 NYG 1994 9 7 0 0 0
9 RAI 1993 10 6 0 1 1
9 DEN 1991 12 4 0 1 1
9 WAS 1986 12 4 0 2 1
9 NYG 1986 14 2 0 3 0
9 CLE 1980 11 5 0 0 1
8 IND 2008 12 4 0 0 1
8 WAS 2008 8 8 0 0 0
8 IND 2006 12 4 0 4 0
8 JAX 2005 12 4 0 0 1
8 JAX 2004 9 7 0 0 0
8 CIN 2003 8 8 0 0 0
8 NWE 2003 14 2 0 3 0
8 NYG 2002 10 6 0 0 1
8 NYJ 2001 10 6 0 0 1
8 CHI 2001 13 3 0 0 1
8 RAI 1990 12 4 0 1 1
8 SFO 1990 14 2 0 1 1
8 NOR 1988 10 6 0 0 0
8 HOU 1980 11 5 0 0 1
8 STL 1976 10 4 0 0 0

But the Colts aren't just cutting it close by winning by a touchdown and a two-point conversion; they've won half of their games by fewer than five points. They've already tied the record for most victories of four or fewer points.

<4 w tm yr w l t pw pl
7 CAR 2003 11 5 0 3 1
7 RAI 1993 10 6 0 1 1
7 SFO 1990 14 2 0 1 1
7 ARI 1998 9 7 0 1 1
7 GNB 1989 10 6 0 0 0
6 NYG 1986 14 2 0 3 0
6 IND 2008 12 4 0 0 1
6 SDG 1987 8 7 0 0 0
6 CLE 1986 12 4 0 1 1
6 DEN 1984 13 3 0 0 1
6 RAM 1978 12 4 0 1 1
6 DAL 2005 9 7 0 0 0
6 ATL 2004 11 5 0 1 1
6 MIA 1992 11 5 0 1 1

The Colts have been cutting it close. As the table above suggests, they've been cutting it closer than just about any team in NFL history. With another tight victory, Indianapolis will become the first team to ever win eight games in a season by fewer than four points. Finally, let's look at all teams in N.F.L. history that have had eight or more games decided by four or fewer points; so we're not just looking at the close wins. Obviously, with no losses, the Colts have played in eight such games. But if their next two games are close, they can tie the record. Same numbers as in the table above, but now I've added columns showing how many wins and losses each team had in these close games.

4 w 4 l gms tm yr w l t pw pl
7 3 10 GNB 1989 10 6 0 0 0
5 5 10 TAM 2001 9 7 0 0 1
5 5 10 CHI 1999 6 10 0 0 0
4 6 10 PHI 1983 5 11 0 0 0
3 7 10 BAL 1997 6 9 1 0 0
7 2 9 CAR 2003 11 5 0 3 1
7 2 9 ARI 1998 9 7 0 1 1
6 3 9 DAL 2005 9 7 0 0 0
5 4 9 NOR 1988 10 6 0 0 0
5 4 9 IND 1995 9 7 0 2 1
5 4 9 GNB 1983 8 8 0 0 0
5 4 9 DET 1974 7 7 0 0 0
5 4 9 PHI 1997 6 9 1 0 0
5 4 9 NOR 1983 8 8 0 0 0
4 5 9 CRD 1935 6 4 2 0 0
4 5 9 TAM 1984 6 10 0 0 0
3 6 9 WAS 2003 5 11 0 0 0
3 6 9 DET 1984 4 11 1 0 0
2 7 9 NWE 1993 5 11 0 0 0
2 7 9 SDG 1970 5 6 3 0 0
1 8 9 CLE 1984 5 11 0 0 0
7 1 8 RAI 1993 10 6 0 1 1
7 1 8 SFO 1990 14 2 0 1 1
6 2 8 DEN 1984 13 3 0 0 1
5 3 8 NYG 1994 9 7 0 0 0
5 3 8 HOU 1980 11 5 0 0 1
5 3 8 JAX 1996 9 7 0 2 1
5 3 8 RAI 1991 9 7 0 0 1
5 3 8 IND 1988 9 7 0 0 0
5 3 8 SEA 1978 9 7 0 0 0
5 3 8 STL 1974 10 4 0 0 1
5 3 8 HOU 2003 5 11 0 0 0
5 3 8 BUF 2000 8 8 0 0 0
5 3 8 HOU 1991 11 5 0 1 1
5 3 8 RAM 1989 11 5 0 2 1
5 3 8 TAM 1979 10 6 0 1 1
4 4 8 MIN 1999 10 6 0 1 1
4 4 8 WAS 1987 11 4 0 3 0
4 4 8 DEN 1985 11 5 0 0 0
4 4 8 ATL 1995 9 7 0 0 1
4 4 8 ARI 1994 8 8 0 0 0
4 4 8 MIA 1994 10 6 0 1 1
4 4 8 NYJ 1991 8 8 0 0 1
4 4 8 NOR 1990 8 8 0 0 1
4 4 8 KAN 2002 8 8 0 0 0
4 4 8 SFO 1980 6 10 0 0 0
3 5 8 CIN 1995 7 9 0 0 0
3 5 8 BAL 2002 7 9 0 0 0
3 5 8 DAL 2002 5 11 0 0 0
3 5 8 TAM 1989 5 11 0 0 0
3 5 8 SDG 1989 6 10 0 0 0
3 5 8 TAM 1988 5 11 0 0 0
3 5 8 KAN 1988 4 11 1 0 0
3 5 8 CIN 1994 3 13 0 0 0
3 5 8 MIN 1972 7 7 0 0 0
2 6 8 CLE 1991 6 10 0 0 0
2 6 8 BUF 1986 4 12 0 0 0
2 6 8 GNB 1991 4 12 0 0 0
2 6 8 ATL 1981 7 9 0 0 0
2 6 8 MIN 1967 3 8 3 0 0
1 7 8 PHI 1986 5 10 1 0 0

That's not a typo -- the '84 Browns went 1-8 in close games, ending the season with a 5-11 record. The Browns' fortunes would change completely the next season, as they would win eight games and become the first division winner in league history with eight losses.

This entry was posted on Saturday, December 19th, 2009 at 9:12 am and is filed under Checkdowns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.