AccuScore: Brady’s returns give Pats big edge

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AccuScore uses past player performance statistics to describe how players perform under different environmental, match-up, and game situation conditions. Using projected starting lineups AccuScore simulates each game of the 2009 season one play at a time. By repeating the simulation 10,000 to 20,000 times per game AccuScore calculates the precise probability each team has of winning each game, winning their division and making the playoffs.

Photo Tom Brady
(Charles Krupa/AP Photo)

New England Patriots
The Patriots won 11 games without Tom Brady(notes), so it is not a surprise to see New England winning the AFC East in more than 84 percent of simulations with an average of just below 12 wins. In fact, you might think with Brady that the Patriots would once again approach the 16 wins of 2007. The Patriots do have a 38 percent chance of winning 13 or more games, but approaching a perfect season is virtually impossible. The combined winning percentage of their 2008 opponents was just 48 percent. Their 2009 opponents won 59 percent of their 2008 games.

Miami Dolphins
Like the Patriots, the entire AFC East will face a tougher schedule in 2009 than the teams did in 2008. The Dolphins would like to believe they could build on a surprising 11-win season of ’08 season, but the tougher schedule, the return of Brady and the arrival of Terrell Owens(notes) in Buffalo results in Miami averaging 8.6 wins per simulation with a 39-percent chance of making the playoffs. At first glance, Dolphins fans may be vastly disappointed, if not angered, by this “negative” forecast, but the Dolphins still have the seventh-best chance of making the playoffs in the AFC. In other words, while it will be hard to win 11 games, the Dolphins could definitely be a wild-card team in 2009.

Buffalo Bills
Trent Edwards(notes) had just 11 touchdown passes in 14 games in 2008. This is just 0.79 TD passes per game. His per game average is forecasted to increase to 1.25 TDs per game with the addition of Owens – a huge 58-percent increase in TD production for Edwards. Buffalo should be a better team in 2009, but because of the tough schedule AFC East teams have and the return of Brady, Buffalo is only forecasted for seven wins (same total as 2008).

New York Jets
The Jets have to realize that while Brett Favre’s(notes) late-season collapse prevented them from winning 10 or 11 games, it was his excellent play in the first three months of the season that helped them win nine games, instead of six or less. AccuScore does not think Mark Sanchez(notes) will be able to do what Matt Ryan(notes) or Joe Flacco(notes) did as rookies. Sanchez does not have as strong an arm and is not used to playing in bad weather like Flacco. He has a much tougher schedule than Ryan faced as a rookie. Coach Rex Ryan may have been a great defensive coordinator, but he cannot claim to be the reason why Baltimore’s defense has been great. They were great long before Ryan’s arrival. The Jets defense will be good, but likely not good enough to make the playoffs as they have just a 9.2-percent chance.

AFC EAST W L Win Div Playoffs Win 0-6 Win 7-9 Win 10-11 Win 12+
Patriots 11.9 4.1 83.9% 94.2% 0.3% 8.8% 30.5% 60.4%
Dolphins 8.6 7.5 10.7% 39.4% 14.6% 54.2% 25.2% 6.0%
Bills 7.4 8.6 3.8% 18.8% 31.4% 54.8% 12.1% 1.7%
Jets 6.4 9.6 1.5% 9.2% 53.6% 41.1% 4.9% 0.4%

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