NFL Stats: The importance of the second half of the season
The 2016 NFL season is in the books, but how about one more stat from last season… (For those of you going through football withdrawals, maybe this will help!)
Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers fans will remember the ’16 season for many reasons including how their teams put together long winning streaks to finish the season. Both teams ended up in their respective conference championship games, although both lost in an attempt to make the Super Bowl.
How important is finishing strong in an NFL season? How important is the second half of the season?
Let’s take a look at the records of each of the 32 NFL teams in the second half of 2016… some very distinct numbers pop out.
Here’s the record of each NFL team in the second half of 2016 (Games #9 through #16).
7-1: New England*, Pittsburgh*
6-2: Atlanta*, Dallas*, Green Bay*, Kansas City*, Miami*, New York Giants*, Oakland*, Tampa Bay
5-3: Detroit*, Indianapolis, Seattle*, Tennessee
4-4: Arizona, Baltimore, Houston*, Washington
3-5: Buffalo, Carolina, Cincinnati, Denver, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia
2-6: New York Jets, San Diego
1-7: Chicago, Cleveland, Jacksonville, L.A. Rams, San Francisco
Did you notice the very clear stats that emerge from these records:
- The 12 playoff teams had a combined record of 76-26 (.745) in the second half of the season. The teams that did not make the playoffs last season were a combined 52-102 in the second half (.338).
- Twelve of the 18 teams that won at least four of their last eight games made the playoffs in 2016.
- Eleven of the 14 teams that won five or more of their last eight games made the playoffs last season.
- Teams that won their division (New England, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Green Bay, Dallas, Kansas City, Seattle and Houston) were 47-17 (.734) in the second half of the season.
- The two Super Bowl teams (New England and Atlanta) were a combined 13-3 (.813) in their last eight games of the season.
- The four teams that played in the conference championship games (New England, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Green Bay) were a combined 26-6 (.813) in the second half of the season.
- The best second half by a non-playoff team last season was Tampa Bay at 6-2. Since 1988, the best second half of the season by a team that did not make the playoffs were the 1991 Philadelphia Eagles who went 7-1 in their last eight games but did not make the post-season.
- Both Seattle and Houston finished the year 4-4 in 2016, but each made the playoffs. The 1999 Miami Dolphins and 2006 New York Giants both finished those seasons 2-6, but each made the playoffs that year. It was the worst finish in their last eight games by a playoff team since 1988.
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