First of all happy Thanksgiving everybody!
A new episode in Saints & math series. What do the numbers tell us about how the Saints season will end? 2 weeks later than planned because I lost all my data, I spent about 10 hours recreating it adding stats for 2009 and 2010 as well. If you do not like math; here is the conclusion for you, the Saints would have made the post season almost certainly if they had functioning special teams and would be 6-4 right now. Instead they are eliminated unless the rest of the NFC South loses about the rest of the season. However the future looks really really bright!
A quick recap of previous posts;
Week 0: Saints would likely need to go 10-6 and at scoring 25.5 points a game on average that would mean the defense should be top 8 and not give up over 20 on average.
Week 4; Saints going 6-10 but with an upside of possibly 8-8 when some players return to health.
Now after 10 weeks we have a good sample size to see what de defense and offense is about. However if the defense looks to be stronger now so we need to look at math with a possible better defensive performance remaining as well.
The Saints have scored nearly as much (285) points as they have allowed (286). Statistically the Saints are heading for an 8-8 season and that even matches up near perfectly with the mathematically calculated ~0.5 points the Saints need to score more than other teams to get to the same record. There is 1 season that is pretty comparable to scoring and allowing about 28.5 points per game and that is the 7-9 2012 season.
Now lets see what we think and hope will happen. Due to players returning from injury, young players getting experience and this Defense finding it’s identity; they most likely will play the rest of the season like they did in the last few games. We will also assume the offense is gonna stay at it’s seasons level (which is actually 3 points per game better than in the previous 3 seasons!).
So the defense played like crap the first 6 games. The Saints allowed 195 points in 6 games, 32.5 a game. In the last 4 games they have improved to allow only 22.75 points per game. And that does include special teams and offense being responsible for at least a couple of TDs! The offense is at 28.5 and the defense will be at 26.4 for the season. Looking at my data that would put the Saints at a 9-7 season. However the Saints will not end up 9-7, simply because they are 4-6 currently.
A more realistic way of looking at it is this; The Saints are assumed scoring 28.5 points per game and allowing 22.75 points per game. That would put them at an 11-5 season, winning about twice as much as they are losing. Having currently only 6 games left that would mean them winning 4 and losing 2, resulting in an 8-8 season.
In conclusion: Currently the wildcard position is held by a 6-4 team. Mathematically there is no way the Saints will catch up with that. The only way to get to the post season the Saints would need to win the division. It is possible, but the chances are really small. Imagine the Saints had won the last 2 games by actually making field goals instead of having them blocked. They would be heading for a 10-6 and possible post season record despite being really bad the first 6 games. In the Netherlands we have a saying: “After the calf has downed one closes the well” meaning that you fix stuff when it is too late. Adding a special teams coach right now is exactly that. Better late than never. Hopefully next year it will be fixed and if the offense stays at this level we can look at an awesome defense and the Saints might be heading for a 12-4 season if they even improve a bit more!