Good, Bad, & Ugly: WhatIfSports' Predictions

WhatIfSports.com recently unveiled their predictions for the 2009 season, based on thousands of computer simulations and advanced mathematics. There were some good predictions, some bad predictions, and some ugly predictions for the Colts. Brad Keller weighs in with his thoughts on the prognostications.

The Good:

Indianapolis was predicted to win the division, with a record of 10-6, securing the AFC's No. 3 seed.  After the Titans wrested the division crown from them last year, that's good news for the Colts, as the first order of business in the NFL during the regular season is to win your division.


Manning should again be a top fantasy QB and guide the Colts to the playoffs
Andy Lyons/Getty

Peyton Manning ended up as the second-rated fantasy quarterback behind Tom Brady, with 3,885 yards, 26 touchdown passes, and 13 interceptions.  While it's hardly a stretch to foresee Manning being one of the best quarterbacks in the league, fantasy or otherwise, it's good to know that he is not expected to see a dropoff in his production, despite the fact that he does not have a proven third wide receiver.

Donald Brown was rated as an impact rookie, on the books for 1,020 total yards and nine total touchdowns, even though he is projected to have fewer carries than Joseph Addai.

Speaking of Addai, the projections for him essentially matches his 2008 production, with 883 total yards and six touchdowns.  The very good news in all of those stats is that the Indianapolis running game would appear to return to form in 2009 after a dismal 2008.

The Colts' absolute record ended up at 13-3, which should be more than enough to win the division when the actual 2009 season kicks off.  Tennessee won the division and was the number one seed heading into the postseason with their 13-3 record in 2008.

Judging by the percentages, their is an excellent chance that the Colts will finish 5-1 in the division, with odds favoring a 6-0 finish over a 4-2 finish.  All the numbers point to a return to prominence for a squad that is used to resting their starters in the final two games of the season.

Reggie Wayne was predicted to finish as the fifth-rated fantasy receiver overall with 78 receptions, 1,243 yards, and eight touchdowns.  All signs are currently pointing to another big year for Wayne, which is always good news for Colts fans.

The Bad:

Even though they finished as the third seed, the Colts are projected to face another early postseason exit, losing to division rival Houston in the first round of the playoffs.  The game is projected to go into overtime, which would spell another heartbreaking and disappointing end to a successful regular season — fans are eager to forget last season's overtime loss to San Diego during the first weekend of the playoffs.

With 10,000 simulations run for each game, there are a number of teams within two games of .500 and a preponderance of teams finishing 9-7 or 8-8.  Chances are that the season will not shake out this way when all is said and done.

The statistics were probably too normalized after so many iterations.  That means that the Colts may finish 10-6, but find themselves on the outside looking in.  But, the absolute record still predicts a rosy 2009 regular season finish for Indianapolis.

The number one and number two seeds in the playoff bracket finished with 11-5 records.  Once again, that is probably the result of the statistics being normalized after so many simulations, since the highest seeds in the bracket generally finish with 12 or 13 wins.

These factors cast a shadow of doubt over the predictions in general, so we'll ultimately just need to see what happens when the games are actually played on the field.

Although Dallas Clark is projected as the fourth-best fantasy tight end, he is only on the books for 57 receptions for 698 yards and six touchdowns.  Clark is probably going to be more productive than that working out of the slot.

The Ugly:

WhatIfSports.com is projecting big things for the Colts third receiver without knowing who it will be.  The early indications are that it will be either Austin Collie or Pierre Garcon, but no one knows for sure at this pre-training camp juncture.

Still, the third-receiver-to-be-named-later is on the books for 68 receptions for 794 yards and five touchdowns.  It's important to also note that second receiver Anthony Gonzalez is projected to have 67 receptions for 803 yards and five touchdowns.  If the third receiver does not match that prediction, that leaves a big hole in the lineup for Indianapolis.


Anthony Gonzalez should be ready to take another step up in production
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Adam Vinatieri is projected to attempt two fewer PATs (41 in 2009 versus 43 in 2008) and five more field goals (30 in 2009 versus 25 in 2008), making six more total (26 in 2009 versus 20 in 2008).  Although the net on that is 16 more points on the season, that also means that the Colts are projected to struggle in the red zone — which would be an exception to the norm in the Peyton Manning era.

While the news was mostly positive — as it usually is when a team wins their division — special teams is still listed as the weakness for Indianapolis.

Finally, the postseason exit comes at home to the sixth-seeded Texans, who WhatIfSports describes as a "more experienced Houston Texans team."  Given the fact that Manning alone has more postseason experience than the entire Texans roster calls the "experienced" moniker into serious question.

By proxy, it calls all the predictions and extrapolations made by WhatIfSports into question, especially with the issues already raised regarding regular season records and too many iterations. While WIS brings an unique perspective to the table with their simulations, their prognostications are just another prediction tool for football-starved fans looking forward to the season.

To see WhatIfSports.com's predictions for the 2009 season, click here!


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