ESPN rolled out its NFL Nation site today, with team bloggers for virtually every NFL team, often hired out of the ranks of local beat writers for the team they are covering. Not every team has a new team blogger yet, so some writers made predictions for two teams. Already this morning, there is a team won-loss prediction posted for all 32 teams.
ESPN’s NFL Bloggers see a very good season on the horizon. So good, in fact, that the NFL teams are expected to have a combined record of 283 wins and 229 losses by season’s end. All we need to achieve this are 27 games involving a controversial finish like Green Bay-Seattle last year, where both teams can claim victory. This high win prediction total, though, will not likely be good enough for the actual fans of the 32 teams, who will no doubt feel that their particular writer is being too negative in the outlook.
Only eight teams will finish this year with a losing record, while twenty will provide their fans with a winning season, including every team in the NFC South. Only Oakland (4-12) and Jacksonville (5-11) are predicted to do worse than 6-10.
Which team bloggers are the most overly optimistic and most pessimistic compared to the Vegas win totals?
Something must be in the air in California. The team bloggers predicted all three California based teams to finish 1.5 wins below the Vegas number, with plenty of negativity surrounding both the Chargers and Raiders, they are far from alone. San Francisco is more of a surprise, as Vegas has them tied for the lead in win totals, but they garnered *only* a 10 win prediction from Mike Sando. Only three other teams were projected to finish with win totals less (by 0.5 a win) than Vegas: New Orleans, and another region of pessimism, the AFC East with Buffalo and the New York Jets.
On the positive side, 23 teams were picked to win more games than the Vegas totals. The most optimistic, though, belongs to the defending Super Bowl champions, where Jamison Hensley predicts that the Baltimore Ravens will go 11-5, with a Vegas win total of 8.5 for Baltimore.
The evidence, though, is that this is a systemic optimistic bias, with so many teams being picked to outperform expectations. Hensley was the only one to pick a team more than 1.5 wins from the Vegas number, so it’s not like there are a bunch of extreme picks. It is just slightly optimistic across the league. This is not a criticism in the abstract; most local fans tend to be overly optimistic. I also have no doubt that if I had access to every local paper beat writer’s predictions, the NFL teams could expect even more wins.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]