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Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994

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Posted: 8/20/2014 11:40 AM

Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 


By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY
Updated 2012-08-13 1:17 PM

Offering an answer to a long-running sports-bar argument, statistics suggest that NFL preseason games have been truly meaningless, injuries aside, since 1994.

In 1978, the NFL added four "preseason" games that have no bearing on each team's eventual win-loss record ahead of the 16 regular-season games. Preseason games are widely seen as a chance for coaches to practice plays, scrubs to make the team and veterans to risk injuries. Preseason kicked off this year with the Arizona Cardinals playing the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 5.

Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has complained that the games are not "high-quality" affairs, notes a study in the current Journal of Sports Economics by economists Nancy Ammon Jianakoplos and Martin Shields of Colorado State University, raising questions about whether the games offer fans any insights into their team's Super Bowl chances.

"Does team performance in the NFL preseason predict team performance in the regular season," ask the researchers in the study. Noting that players don't get paid regular season game money during the preseason, "(a)n alternative approach views preseason games as an additional source of revenue for owners," say the authors.

Some studies dating back to 1994 have suggested that NFL preseason wins do offer hints to regular-season success, the study authors note, adding that statistics suggest a small correlation exists between preseason and regular season victories from 2002 to 2010. And what about the third preseason game, where veterans often play the longest, sometimes seen as a key dress rehearsal?

Taking a deeper look, the economists examined preseason success from 1970 to 1991 and compared it to 2002 to 2010 games.

The results offer one more reason to keep watching baseball in August, report the authors:

"Our main finding is that, although we confirm the significance of preseason winning as a predictor of regular season winning previously found in the 1970-1991 period, we are unable to find any statistical evidence that preseason winning percentage or winning the third game of the preseason provides any preview of NFL team performance in the regular season in the most recent 2002-2010 seasons."

So, what is going on? The team extended its analysis to bridge seasons from 1970 to 2010 and account for schedule strength. They find that, "preseason NFL performance lost its impact beginning with the 1994 season."

How come? Well, off-season training practices may have changed, they suggest. Or from an economics standpoint, they note that a 1993 collective bargaining agreement made player salaries a much more important part of the equation for owners and coaches. "The risk of injuring highly paid veteran players in the preseason may have contributed to the decline in the importance of winning NFL preseason games," they write.

So, once again, science confirms something that everyone suspected, the authors conclude.

"These results serve to confirm the view of many fans and even the commissioner of the NFL, who have expressed discontent with the quality of preseason NFL performance. Although preseason games may provide opportunities for players new to the NFL to experience game-time experience and offer the coaching staff more information on the performance capabilities of new players, winning preseason games does not directly translate into better overall team performance in the regular season. The preseason does offer the owners additional revenue and put the players at added risk for injury."

The same journal does offer another bit of guidance for fans. In an online study, Ohio University researchers find that first week games may be the real practice opportunities. Bettors may have an edge betting against offenses in the first week,that second study suggests.

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Posted: 8/20/2014 12:22 PM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 


There is a big difference between outcome in terms of wins/losses and player performance. Good luck finding a pro coach who cares much about pre-season records (that's been apparent to even casual fans for at least a generation). No chance you find a coach who doesn't care how his players perform in pre-season.

“No matter how much you've won, no matter how many games, no matter how many championships, no matter how many Super Bowls, you're not winning now, so you stink.” -Bill Parcells
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Posted: 8/20/2014 12:23 PM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 


My impression has been that preseason is largely about money.  Specifically the extra money from TV.  As far as evaluating personnel, in the past I have read that coaches and GMs feel that 2 games would suffice.  One plan that was discussed in the past was reducing the preseason to 2 games and adding 1-2 games to the regular schedule.  I believe that expanded rosters and changes to the IR rules were part of the discussion.
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Posted: 8/20/2014 4:44 PM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 



DocGooden wrote:

There is a big difference between outcome in terms of wins/losses and player performance. Good luck finding a pro coach who cares much about pre-season records (that's been apparent to even casual fans for at least a generation). No chance you find a coach who doesn't care how his players perform in pre-season.

+1 Exactly. I don't think many people, besides those stupid enough to gamble, care about the win-loss record. But when your starting QB completes one pass in two games, your starting WRs don't know their routes, your starting O line is getting thrown around, etc., etc., then you have to take notice.
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Posted: 8/20/2014 4:45 PM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 


The 2014 Giants appear to be a perfect example.  They are 2-1, but everyone who has watched them play has to see that the first team has played horrendously.  

Maybe if you looked at the first quarter of pre-season games you'd find a lot more correlation to the season performance.  Giants would be 0-3 on that measure.
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Posted: 8/20/2014 6:26 PM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 



GreenGiant2 wrote: The 2014 Giants appear to be a perfect example.  They are 2-1, but everyone who has watched them play has to see that the first team has played horrendously.  

Maybe if you looked at the first quarter of pre-season games you'd find a lot more correlation to the season performance.  Giants would be 0-3 on that measure.
Not to try and be funny here, but the Giants are 3-0 in pre season. Aren't you watching  the great exhibition of offensive prowess that we are putting on. bangheadbangheadbangheadbangheadbangheadbanghead
There is no 'I' in team
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Posted: 8/20/2014 6:31 PM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 


Regarding pre season and it's value. As of now, I would believe every coach in the league would opt for these 4 games and not reduce them one bit. With all the new rules regarding practices and how they have been reduced, coaches need these games to actually see players in actual combat, in game time specifics. Records mean nothing, but actual play does.

And when BP was our coach he wanted to win every game. I remember one pre season game, he put his starters back in the game for a late goal line stand. it worked and we won. He always said he wanted to establish a winning mentality, be it pre season or regular season.
There is no 'I' in team
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Posted: 8/20/2014 6:41 PM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 


It is not called "pre-season" for nothing.  The games were never supposed to be meaningful (In terms of prediction or quality) to begin with and if Goodell is complaining, it is because he is trying to draw support to reduce the pre-season games for the sole purpose of adding regular season games.  

I have absolutely no problem with pre-season games nor do I have a problem with their meaningless nature. I like to watch the young player fighting for the lives of their dreams.  Without the pre-season, Victor Cruz may have never have made a roster, and how many more like him.  I like watching the guys on the bubble or on the outside looking in far better than watching some starters and veterans going through the motions for the purpose of loosening-up and breaking a sweat.

I can barely read the threads on the board during the preseason as I am stunned by the amount to hand-wringing and kvetching over what they see in the pre-season.  Coaches are trying to evaluate what individual players can and can't do in the pre-season.  Getting upset over something that is inherently meaningless is kinda goofy, IMHO.
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Posted: 8/20/2014 9:51 PM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 



YeOldeMtnWasp wrote: It is not called "pre-season" for nothing.  The games were never supposed to be meaningful (In terms of prediction or quality) to begin with and if Goodell is complaining, it is because he is trying to draw support to reduce the pre-season games for the sole purpose of adding regular season games.  

I have absolutely no problem with pre-season games nor do I have a problem with their meaningless nature. I like to watch the young player fighting for the lives of their dreams.  Without the pre-season, Victor Cruz may have never have made a roster, and how many more like him.  I like watching the guys on the bubble or on the outside looking in far better than watching some starters and veterans going through the motions for the purpose of loosening-up and breaking a sweat.

I can barely read the threads on the board during the preseason as I am stunned by the amount to hand-wringing and kvetching over what they see in the pre-season.  Coaches are trying to evaluate what individual players can and can't do in the pre-season.  Getting upset over something that is inherently meaningless is kinda goofy, IMHO.
So is Eli looking like a HS walk on running his first ever offense, nothing to be concerned about? Are you of the opinion as soon as the season starts Eli will become an 'elite' QB?
There is no 'I' in team
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Posted: 8/21/2014 2:11 AM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 



YeOldeMtnWasp wrote:   Getting upset over something that is inherently meaningless is kinda goofy, IMHO.
You might want to tell that to the Head Coach. He has been plenty upset.
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Posted: 8/21/2014 7:29 AM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 


I have really tried to not be concerned about the #1 offense in the 1st 3 games.  I watched a little of the colts game again yesterday.  If we look that bad against the Jets - I am concerned!
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Posted: 8/21/2014 7:38 AM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 


Have not watched a preseason game since the Talking Head Phil Simms era. {Great Giants QB, horrifically bad sportscaster}.
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Posted: 8/21/2014 7:41 AM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 


This preseason has been an unusual one for our Giants because of the new offense being installed and the massive amount of turnover from last season. In that manner, the five preseason games has worked out well for them. Although, the starters haven't shown much improvement as they only play a quarter each game. So maybe the five games don't mean all that much.

I would like to see the preseason downgraded to just 3 games. I do not want more regular season games, instead I think they should just add another bye week for each team, so they all get two bye weeks. They did this one season, I think it was 1994 or 1995 and it seemed to work well. College football has two byes and they only play 12 games usually, so no reason they can't have two byes in a 16 game NFL season. Plus, it would extend the NFL season to 18 weeks of football to watch instead of 17. So everybody wins (more time off for players' health and another week of football for the fans to watch).

Good teams rely on their stars,
Great teams rely on each other.

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Posted: 8/21/2014 10:53 AM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 



leagued wrote: This preseason has been an unusual one for our Giants because of the new offense being installed and the massive amount of turnover from last season. In that manner, the five preseason games has worked out well for them. Although, the starters haven't shown much improvement as they only play a quarter each game. So maybe the five games don't mean all that much.

I would like to see the preseason downgraded to just 3 games. I do not want more regular season games, instead I think they should just add another bye week for each team, so they all get two bye weeks. They did this one season, I think it was 1994 or 1995 and it seemed to work well. College football has two byes and they only play 12 games usually, so no reason they can't have two byes in a 16 game NFL season. Plus, it would extend the NFL season to 18 weeks of football to watch instead of 17. So everybody wins (more time off for players' health and another week of football for the fans to watch).
That is just giving away revenue...no way they reduce the number of overall games.  The fans win, the players win, the league/owners lose.
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Posted: 8/21/2014 1:42 PM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 



Jintsfan46 wrote:
So is Eli looking like a HS walk on running his first ever offense, nothing to be concerned about? Are you of the opinion as soon as the season starts Eli will become an 'elite' QB?
I was upset by him looking like a high schooler last year during the regular season.  Would I prefer for him look fantastic this pre-season?  Of course!  Always.  The point is not to extrapolate and predict based on pre-season games.  Giants fans should know well that looking great early in the season is no guarantee that they will be playing great when it counts at the end.  On the other hand, performing poorly during stretches of the season does not mean the team will play poorly when the chips are down. 

I can understand fans being upset or disappointed that the offense looks ragged right now, but what I don't understand is using that as data to extrapolate and predict.  Not all data has predictive value.  I think pre-season games are that kind of data.
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Posted: 8/21/2014 5:18 PM

Re: Study shows pre season hasnt mattered since 1994 


I can understand a DLman, not wanting to go all out or a LB or even a DB, and maybe even a RB, but a QB needs to get his timing right, when real guys are looking to take his head off. I also can understand if they are trying to keep this new offense under wraps until the real season starts, but again, the QB has to show some leadership, especially when we have so many hew faces out there. Eli simply looks scared out there. maybe it is this sieve of an OL, maybe it is just not wanting to get killed at this time in his career, but he is one player who needs the pre season.
 He simply has to show something, and not pout about not having KG's offense anymore.
There is no 'I' in team
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