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How a simple statistic can help sort through NFL’s immense parity this season, forecast Super Bowl contenders

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How in the world are you supposed to know who’s actually really good this NFL season? And I mean — which teams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders? In the AFC, we’ve got 12 teams .500 or better entering Week 11. Bananas. 

In the NFC, four clubs are within one game in the win column of the final playoff spot, and there are four additional teams only two games back.

To solve this riddle, let me introduce to you the predictive powers of point differential. Of course, I’m hardly the first to recognize what point differential strongly suggests, but it’s not mentioned nearly enough, and I have some fascinating statistics for you. 

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But first, I’ll explain the thought process behind what I’m about to show you.

It’s known, in the NFL, and even in college where the talent difference between clubs is more significant, that one-score games are almost always coin-flip propositions, outings decided by a play or two. The elite teams aren’t magically better in tight contests than the lesser teams, they’re just much better at blowing out their opponents and, conversely, are rarely blown out. 

What that phenomenon indirectly says is that the genuinely great teams are those with large positive point differentials. They’re not playing in many one-score games or blowout losses, and a fair amount of their wins are in convincing fashion. 

History — and especially recent history — very loudly proclaims that, at the end of each regular season, we should all be looking at the top-five teams in point differential as those most likely to get near the Super Bowl, to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl.

The last five Super Bowl winners — and seven of the last eight — finished in the top five of regular-season point differential. 

Further, 16 of the last 20 conference title participants have hailed from the prestigious top five in point differential the season they advanced to the NFL’s final four. That’s 80%. Staggering. 

Does this indicator check out with a larger sample size? Yessir. Over the last decade, 31 of 40 conference title participants were top five point differential teams that season. That’s 77.5%. And 16 of the last 20 Super Bowl participants were, yes, in the top five of point differential. 

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Of course, point differentials will fluctuate over the last half-ish of the regular season. But right now, the Bills have the league-best point different at +145. Before Thursday Night Football in Week 11, the Patriots and Cardinals are tied for second at +98. After those clubs? The Cowboys at +89, Buccaneers at +67 and Titans at +46.

Those currently hovering near the top five include the Saints and Rams (+44), Colts (+38), and Packers (+36).  

The Steelers, Chargers, Browns, and Raiders each have five wins with negative point differentials. On the flip side, the Eagles have a respectable point differential of +26 but are 4-6. Weird. 

Unless a team enters the postseason with an all-time great defense and a future first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback like the 2015 Broncos, or we sincerely believe a quarterback will go on a 2013 Joe Flacco or 2011 Eli Manning type run in the playoffs while receiving fortuitous breaks along the way, we need to look directly at the top-five finishers in regular-season point differential to identify the most likely candidates for the conference title games and Super Bowl. 

Teams aren’t really what their record says they are. They are what their point differential says they are. 

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Rangers Welcome Back A Franchise Legend

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(Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)

 

The Texas Rangers are welcoming back a franchise legend in former second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Th 40-year-old and Rangers Hall-of-Famer is joining the team’s front office as a special assistant to General Manager Chris Young.

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Kinsler was drafted by the Rangers in 2003 out of the University of Missouri and made his debut in 2006.

He helped lead the Rangers to the World Series in 2010 and 2011 before ultimately being traded to the Detroit Tigers.

Kinsler was with the Rangers until 2014, spending eight seasons with the team as a player.

On Twitter, the Rangers welcomed back their franchise legend, announcing his new role with the team.

During his eight years in Texas, Kinsler hit for a .273 batting average and hit a total of 156 home runs.

He also drove in 539 runs and had an OPS of .804.

Kinsler and the Rangers came to within one strike of winning the World Series in 2011 before the St. Louis Cardinals battled back to force Game 7 and ultimately defeat them, but he was a key piece of the puzzle and helped turn the Rangers into a contender.

He also spent time with the Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, and San Diego Padres, winning his only World Series ring in 2018 with Boston.

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But he’s best known for his contributions in Texas.

Kinsler was selected to four All-Star teams and won two Gold Glove Awards during his 14-year career.

Now, he’ll officially rejoin the Rangers in a new position as the team looks to build off of a strong offseason and bounce back into contention.

The post Rangers Welcome Back A Franchise Legend appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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NFL Fan Makes Case For A Calvin Ridley Breakout Campaign

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

Calvin Ridley is an interesting case study.

Ridley was suspended for the entirety of the 2022 NFL season, given that he had gambled on a few games in the past while he was injured.

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However, Ridley has been since traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars, which has been met with mixed opinions across the league.

One fan, in particular, believes in Ridley for the 2023 NFL campaign, citing several examples to support his hypothesis.

Ridley hasn’t played in the NFL for over a year.

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Although Deshaun Watson was suspended for a different reason, his situation is similar to Ridley’s, considering he had a long hiatus from the league.

As seen in the case of Watson, he wasn’t quite able to knock off the rust in the six games he started this season and will look to improve mightily in 2023.

Ridley has been injured and hasn’t been able to practice in an NFL training facility because of his suspension.

What will Ridley look like in the Jaguars offense next season?

Trevor Lawrence took a massive step forward in 2022, leading the Jaguars to his first-ever playoff victory.

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If Ridley is fully healthy, he might be a great addition to this Jaguars team, giving them another veteran presence at the wide receiver position.

The Jaguars already have Christian Kirk and Zay Jones under contract, and both are great young receivers.

However, someone like Ridley could make an immediate impact, as he could take over as the number one overall receiver, taking a bit of pressure off the plates of Kirk and Jones.

The post NFL Fan Makes Case For A Calvin Ridley Breakout Campaign appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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NBA Insider Makes Big Claim About Kevin Durant

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(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

 

The departure of Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets has substantially changed the team.

Obviously, Irving was a major part of the team and its offensive output, meaning they will have to play a lot harder in order to keep winning.

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There has been some speculation that Irving’s exit means the team could make even more huge changes.

Numerous people even wonder if the team will end up shipping away Kevin Durant.

Stephen A. Smith thinks that’s possible.

The NBA insider was on ESPN and said he’s hearing that Durant may be on the move.

“I’m hearing he’s on the verge of potentially being moved, I’m hearing Boston is making some calls, keep your eye on that. Jaylen Brown,” Smith said.

The idea of Durant leaving the Nets seems crazy on the surface but it makes sense in some ways too.

Durant is one of the biggest basketball players alive right now and is a future Hall of Famer.

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That means that he would only be traded for a positively huge haul.

If the Nets decide now is the time to blow the team up and start from scratch, they would get a good start in that process by trading Durant.

As for the Celtics, would they really be willing to part ways with Brown?

The team is currently the best in the entire NBA so why would they take a chance and possibly ruin such a good thing?

Is the allure of Durant that strong?

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There have been rumors of Durant for Brown before and they never amounted to anything so this could again end without any changes to either team.

We will know within the next few days.

The post NBA Insider Makes Big Claim About Kevin Durant appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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