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How consistent is each NFL team? (2005-2014)


With the 2015 season right around the corner, expectations for most NFL teams are high.  Fans are excited about their team’s recent draft picks, and players haven’t yet done anything to put a damper on fans’ overly optimistic expectations for the year (save for multiple offseason fireworks incidents).

Of course not every team can either improve on last year’s poor record or stay at the top if they were among the league’s best. And over the last ten years, some teams have shown more consistent year-to-year performance than others.

Consistency isn’t necessarily a good thing if a team is putting up low win totals year in and year out, but the chart below shows how much all 32 teams’ win totals have changed from 2005-2014:

Rank

Team

Avg. Yearly Change in Win Total

1

Buffalo Bills

1.1

2

Oakland Raiders

1.4

3

New York Giants

1.9

4

New England Patriots

2.0

5

Pittsburgh Steelers

2.2

6

Cleveland Browns

2.3

7

Dallas Cowboys

2.3

8

Denver Broncos

2.3

9

Seattle Seahawks

2.3

10

Arizona Cardinals

2.4

11

Philadelphia Eagles

2.4

12

San Diego Chargers

2.7

13

San Francisco 49ers

2.7

14

Jacksonville Jaguars

2.8

15

Miami Dolphins

2.8

16

Chicago Bears

2.9

17

St. Louis Rams

2.9

18

Cincinnati Bengals

3.0

19

Indianapolis Colts

3.0

20

Tennessee Titans

3.1

21

New York Jets

3.3

22

Washington Redskins

3.3

23

Baltimore Ravens

3.6

24

Minnesota Vikings

3.6

25

Houston Texans

3.7

26

Atlanta Falcons

3.8

27

Carolina Panthers

3.8

28

New Orleans Saints

3.8

29

Kansas City Chiefs

3.9

30

Detroit Lions

4.0

31

Green Bay Packers

4.2

32

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4.3

The way to interpret this table is that from 2005 to 2014 the Buffalo Bills’ win totals, for example, changed by just over one win per year.  In that time span they won, in order, 5, 7, 7, 7, 6, 4, 6, 6, 6, and 9 games.  In fact, had the Bills not posted their highest win total last year since 2004 they would have been the only NFL team with an average change of less than one win per year.

Most Consistent Teams:

  1. Buffalo Bills

The aforementioned Bills have been mired in something less than mediocrity (but a step or two above complete disaster) for years. With the Rex Ryan era about to begin Bills fans are optimistic that the seemingly endless years of 6 or 7 wins are a thing of the past.

  1. Oakland Raiders

The Raiders are definitively the most consistently “bad” team on this list, as the Bills at least had just two seasons of less than six wins.  The Raiders, on the other hand, have had five or fewer wins in all but two of the last ten seasons.

  1. New York Giants

The Giants begin the run of “consistently good” teams from the past ten years.  From 2005 to 2012 they had 8 wins or greater every year, followed by two subpar seasons of seven or fewer wins.  Their fall from NFL contender (10 or more wins in ’07, ’08, and ’10) was gradual, helping to keep them at the top of this list.

  1. New England Patriots

Were it not for their 16-0 record in 2007 the Patriots would be by far the most consistent team in the league, as that record led to a +4 in wins that year followed by a -5 in wins in 2008 when they finished a mere 11-5.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

While two mediocre seasons in 2012 and 2013 have slightly dinged their reputation as a year in and year out contender, the Steelers have posted 8 or more wins every year going back to 2005. Posting identical win totals from 2010-11 (12 wins) and 2012-13 (8 wins) puts them near the top of this list.

Least Consistent Teams:

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Their rapid fall from 11 to 4 wins from 2005-2006 and equally rapid rise from 3 to 10 wins from 2009—2010 helped make them the least consistent team from the last ten years.  With just two wins from 2014 and expectations high with the Jameis Winston era about to begin, they could easily keep this spot for another year.

  1. Green Bay Packers

The Packers are the surprise team of this list. However, within this time frame they’ve had two different stories – from 2005-2009 their win total changed an average of 5.25 wins per year, whereas from 2009-2014 it changed a more typical 3.4 games per year.

  1. Detroit Lions

In the last 10 years the Lions have gone from consistent laughingstock to sort of contender, and their place on this list reflects that.  Dropping from 7 wins in 2007 to the infamous 0 in 2008 and then dropping from 10 in 2010 to 4 in 2011 helps make them among the league’s most inconsistent teams. Losing Ndamukong Suh could keep them among the most inconsistent as not many expect them to come close to the 11 wins they posted last year.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are here mainly because of their jump from 4 to 10 wins from 2009-2010 and their other jump from 2 to 11 wins from 2012-2013.  With two straight winning seasons under their belt and expectations high for 2015 the Chiefs want to avoid those big fluctuations and start posting consistent win totals in the double digits.

  1. New Orleans Saints

From 2011 to 2014 the Saints have had changes in win totals of 6, 4, and 4 as they had 13 wins in 2011 and 7, 11, and 7 from 2012-2014, respectively.  Their post-Katrina jump from 3 wins in 2005 to 10 the following year has also kept them among the candidates for most inconsistent team.

Interesting Win Stats:

  • Largest win increase, 2005-2014: 10
    • Miami Dolphins, 2007 (1 win) to 2008 (11 wins)
  • Largest win decrease, 2005-2014: 10
    • Houston Texans, 2012 (12 wins) to 2013 (2 wins)
  • Average change in wins for all teams, 2005-2014: 2.93 


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