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How has each NFL team performed in the preseason?


Unless you are a fan forced to pay for preseason tickets in order to get access to regular season goodies, you are probably not fully on board with NFL preseason games. The truth is that they are a sub-optimal product and only a fraction of the real thing, with coaches managing games as glorified scrimmages and only a tiny bit of interesting storylines to actually keep track of.

However, the preseason does hold at least some kind of value, as it gives us the first glimpse of the real games that will follow shortly. As it is well known, some preseason games actually have higher ratings than baseball games, for example, and this whole period receives a huge coverage on national media and the NFL Network, where hearing about actual field action suddenly seems better than following the latest off-field scandals.

Also, there is also a chance to actually bet on preseason games. While it may not be the best idea to place actual money on mostly non-competitive games, at least we can fill a football fix in August and early September while we await the real Sunday action. But have you ever wondered if there are any NFL teams who are overly successful or terrible in the preseason?

Today we list the results of the last 10 preseasons to rank all 32 NFL teams during this span. While each year, a few teams play 5 exhibition games instead of the traditional 4, the totals are balanced and the sample significant enough to produce some nice conclusions.

NFL Preseason Totals 2005-2014

Team

W

L

Win Pct.

Seahawks

27

13

0.675

Lions

26

14

0.650

49ers

24

16

0.600

Ravens

24

16

0.600

Vikings

22

17

0.564

Giants

23

18

0.561

Steelers

23

18

0.561

Chargers

22

18

0.550

Jets

22

18

0.550

Rams

22

18

0.550

Texans

22

18

0.550

Bengals

22

19

0.537

Cowboys

22

19

0.537

Redskins

22

19

0.537

Titans

22

19

0.537

Broncos

21

19

0.525

Dolphins

22

20

0.524

Saints

22

20

0.524

Bears

21

20

0.512

Eagles

21

20

0.512

Jaguars

20

20

0.500

Packers

20

20

0.500

Browns

19

21

0.475

Patriots

19

21

0.475

Buccaneers

18

22

0.450

Panthers

18

22

0.450

Falcons

18

23

0.439

Cardinals

17

24

0.415

Raiders

16

25

0.390

Bills

14

28

0.333

Chiefs

9

31

0.225

Colts

9

33

0.214

It has been well established that preseason results have little to no predictive value when it comes to the actual regular season, but it is interesting to see the outliers on this table. On the top shelf, we have four teams at or above a .600 winning percentage, while we only have four at the bottom below the .400 winning mark.

And yet, they don’t make a lot of sense. The Seahawks, for example, have been steady during the preseason and haven’t played a preseason below .500 during this span, while the Colts have only won 9 games in 10 years despite being one of the most successful franchises over the same span when the games do count for something.

The top 5 teams in regular season winning percentage from 2005 to 2014 (the Patriots, Colts, Steelers, Packers, and Ravens), have combined to win 65.3% of their games, and yet they are only a combined .468 in the preseason. On the other hand, the bottom five (Buccaneers, Lions, Browns, Rams, and Raiders) have won a combined 33.4% of their real games, but have combined for a .502 preseason winning percentage.

These heavy discrepancies do suggest that well established team treat preseason games mostly as distractions, while bad franchises try to at least jumpstart a bit of hype or competition by playing with a bit more urgency in the preseason. Either way, it doesn’t matter that much in the end, as quarterback competitions and coaching challenges usually suggest a bad team in the making, while preseason disinterest tends to mean that a good team is just tuning up and preparing for the real games while completing an NFL prerequisite.

So now that the preseason is in full force, try to take advantage of the teams that historically have shown a more invested approach in the games, or at least fits the profile of a franchise that could be interested in trying harder when it comes to glorified exhibitions. There are still a few things worse than watching an NFL preseason game, but if you absolutely have to, at least stay informed on how they tend to work over the long run.



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