Will injuries Decide the NFL Playoffs?

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Will injuries decide the NFL playoffs this year? Will money decide the NFL playoffs this year is probably a more accurate way to ask this question. Star players win games and that is the bottom line. When star players are not available it changes the outcome. Last season’s playoffs personify this, Derek Carr’s injury derailed an incredible season for the Oakland Raiders. If he didn’t get injured would they have beaten the Texans? Unfortunately we will never know but we do know that things would have been different.

With the Wild Card round kicking off this weekend we have looked at every team to understand if money will decide the playoffs. Referencing our previous research (Cost of winning blog) & (i3) looking at the relationship between the total amount of $ on the field throughout an NFL season and the number of wins a team achieved has proved there is direct relationship between the amount of money/talent a team can put on the field and their likelihood of winning. Whilst we know this relationship stands strong over the course of a season, it may be interesting to see how much money influences success in individual games especially when it comes to knockout scenarios. To that end we have profiles each team this week and calculated the total spend for each team in terms of athlete annual salary and then deducted the salary of each athlete who is injured and will not be capable of participating this weekend to get the total amount of money available to perform for each team. We then placed these amounts in the wild card bracket to understand which teams have more money on the field to win.

The results are depicted which suggests that the winners from this weekend should be:

  • Jacksonville Jaguars, who will have $30M more on the field
  • Kansas City Chiefs or Tennessee Titans, despite the Chiefs having $12.6M more talent available **
  • Carolina Panthers, who will have $24.3M more on the field
  • Atlanta Falcons, who will have $19.4M more on the field 

** The correlation in our i3 was 87% confident meaning there is 13% variability in the model. The Kansas City Chiefs V Titans have less than a 13% difference in dollars on the field which means the model suggests either team could win despite the Chiefs having more money on the field. 

Whilst traditional football fans will argue that the outcomes will be different than those depicted above it still presents an interesting lense to look at the forthcoming games and will be even more interesting should any of the results this weekend turn out to surprise us and look like those listed above.

Over the coming weeks we will look at each weekends games and try to understand the impact injuries are having on the faith of these teams and ultimately understand how they will affect who picks up the Superbowl in Minnesota next month.

 


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