With the NFL draft in the rearview mirror, Football Outsiders is ready to move on to projecting the 2014 season. Unfortunately, we're not yet finished building our more complicated forecast, which involves a lot of variables and a big Monte Carlo simulation. But when Todd McShay asked us for some projected 2014 records to build his 2015 mock draft, we put together some quick-and-dirty projections that started with Football Outsiders' defense-adjusted value over average ratings (DVOA), then applied the usual regression toward the mean that a good or bad team sees from each unit. We then adjusted the projections to account for last year's injury numbers, major free-agent moves and a few other indicators.
On Tuesday we'll go through the NFC, division by division and explain why we see certain teams moving up and down in 2014. On Wednesday, we'll tackle the AFC. Each team has a forecasted record but also, for those of you wanting more detail, a more exact "mean projected wins" number. We also list strength of schedule based on average projected DVOA of next year's 16 opponents, ranked from the hardest (Raiders are No. 1) to the easiest (Texans).
When considering these numbers, remember that this is not the final, official Football Outsiders forecast for 2014 and some of these projections will change between now and the July publication of Football Outsiders Almanac 2014. Also note that stat projections naturally consider a wide range of possibilities, so all teams end up grouped more toward 8-8, with very few teams listed with double-digit wins or losses. Obviously the 2014 season won't really end up with only one team below 6-10 and no teams above 12-4.
Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6 (10.0 mean wins, strength of schedule: 23)
New York Giants: 9-7 (8.6 mean wins, SOS: 24)
Dallas Cowboys: 7-9 (7.1 mean wins, SOS: 15)
Washington Redskins: 6-10 (6.3 mean wins, SOS: 21)
Of all the teams with losing records in 2013, the Giants are probably the best bet to make next year's postseason. They were 7-9, so it isn't as if this is a massive turnaround, but there are a couple of strong indicators.