Football Outsiders Project Awful Season for Cowboys, Saints, Vikings, Others

The fine folks at FootballOutsiders.com (FO) published their annual Football Outsiders Almanac yesterday. It is a veritable treasure trove of football information spread out over 575 pages.

Among many other things, FO have calculated a 2010 Mean Win Projection for every one of the 32 teams in the NFL. Underlying their projections are some complicated calculations based on the DVOA for offense, defense, and special teams as well as a number of different factors such as recent draft history, coaching experience, injury history, previous years DVOA and other variables.

FO have been nothing if not bold in their projections, many of which go against the current prevailing popular opinions.

As you can tell from the title of this post, the Cowboys did not do well in the FO algorithm. FO project 7.5 mean wins for the Cowboys, and have the Cowboys finishing last in the NFC East behind the first place Eagles, second place Redskins and third place Giants. Well, so much for being over-hyped going into the season.

In addition to the Cowboys, based on mean projected wins, FO sees the following 2009 playoff participants not making the playoffs again this year: Bengals, Chargers, Vikings and Saints. New in the playoff picture for 2010: Steelers, Chiefs, Redskins, Bears and Falcons.

The NFC East 2010 standings based on FO's mean projected wins after the jump.

Note: Footballoutsiders have asked that I not post the win projections for every single team in the NFL. I have complied with their request, and have removed the figures for all teams not in the NFC East.

2010 NFC East standings based on mean projected wins by FO

NFC
East
Projected Wins
Eagles
9.3
Redskins 9.2
Giants
8.7
Cowboys
7.5

Some other surprising developments based on the FO data: The Chiefs take the division ahead of the Chargers, the 49ers finish dead last in their division, which surprisingly has the Matt Leinart-led Cardinals at the top. Go figure.

The FO Almanac is clear on why the Cowboys are projected so low: 

The team is top-heavy with superstars and short on depth, and they are getting old at the one position where they cannot afford a significant drop in performance: the offensive line.

FO further point out that the Cowboys have been 'lucky' with injuries in the past, and if their injury rate were to regress towards the mean, the team would quickly close in on the .500 level.

ESPN on the other hand rank the Cowboys No.2 in their Ultimate NFL Rankings, also released yesterday. ESPN doesn't appear to be taking the other NFC teams too seriously. They have the Giants 13th, the Eagles 14th, and the Redskins 18th.

Meanwhile, Tim Cowlishaw from the DMN warns that the NFC East is still as tight as ever.

What's your take? Should we be worried, at least a tiny little bit?

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