Before you ask, yes, the headline is a little tongue-in-cheek. I think we all have a good idea what the Browns’ playoff odds are. But it never hurts to check the data, I guess. I’m far more interested in the draft odds, myself, because I’m a Browns fan and it’s October and the Indians are already eliminated so what else is there to look forward to? In addition to the Browns, we’ll sneak a peak at the draft odds for Houston and Philly, since the Browns own the Texans’ first and second round picks and the Eagles’ second rounder.
First, a word on how these projections work and where they come from. Football Outsiders compiles playoff and draft odds by simulating the remainder of the season 50,000 times. Their simulation randomly assigns a win or a loss for each game using a probability based on the competing teams’ DAVE. For more information on DAVE and DVOA go here. The short version is that DAVE is a combination of an individual team’s efficiency so far this season and a pre-season projection. So in these simulations, teams with a good DAVE tend to win more games. You can see the results of these simulations, including super bowl odds and playoff seeding odds here, but I’ll just be focusing on the Browns, Texans, and Eagles.
The odds of the Cleveland Browns making the playoffs are 0.0%. You probably knew that already, but it’s nice when the numbers match what you think. In addition to playoff odds, Football Outsiders also reports the average number of wins each team gets in their simulations. They predict the Browns will win 2.4 games this season, which seems about right to me. That would be a 100% improvement over last year. That’s something, right?
That low predicted win total means the Browns have a 96.1% chance of having a top five pick, and have by far the highest odds for the first overall pick at 58.3%. That’s right, five games into the season the Browns’ chances of being the worst team in football are better than 50/50. The next closest team is the 49ers at 19.7%, so the Browns are winning this one in a blowout right now. That doesn’t really make it any easier to watch the remainder of this season, but we’ll all be happy about it in April.
The simulations give the Eagles a 79.9% chance of making the playoffs, which isn’t great for that second round pick. Worse, the Eagles have the second highest odds in the entire NFL of making it to the conference championship game, and are predicted to get 10.7 wins. The second round pick the Browns got as part of the Carson Wentz trade very well might be something like the 60-64th overall pick. I try really hard not to do this, but it’s hard not to look at the Eagles and wonder what might have been.
The news is slightly better for Houston’s picks. Houston has a 36.3% chance of making the playoffs, and averages about 8.4 wins over the course of these simulations. So much for that regression I guess. Look for this first round pick to end up somewhere in the low to mid teens. If Deshaun Watson hits a wall or the injuries to the defense have a big impact maybe it sneaks into the top ten. According to the simulations, there’s even a 3% chance this pick ends up in the top five. The Browns would do themselves a huge favor by pulling out the upset tomorrow.
The outlook for the Browns’ draft capital is a mixed bag. There are a lot of way to react to this, from excitement at having a bunch of high draft picks, to disappointment that some won’t be as high as we hoped, to disgust that the Browns are already on the fast track for the top overall pick. Personally my feelings are a pretty even mix of the three. But as a fan there’s nothing I can do about the losing, so I might as well try to be excited about future possibilities. That’s essentially all we’ve got at this point. Well, that and the knowledge that the Cavs start playing real games soon.