There will be quite a lot of “Captain Obvious” in this article but it is a chance to put data to what many of us know. The first “Captain Obvious” statement is that it is really hard to beat good, quality teams in the NFL. It is even harder to do so regularly.
It can also be difficult to analyze just how good a team is at any given time. A team might be good for two weeks early in the year and then fall off. A different team might start off slowly but build to a playoff run. Other teams become dramatically different due to injuries.
For the Cleveland Browns, this year has been a failure. At 6-9, the Browns won’t make the playoffs, won’t compete for the AFC North and won’t have a winning record. Who you blame and whether you think the team will ever get it right are different conversations.
Looking at who Cleveland played so far this year shows that they are tied for the most games against teams that have winning records at the end of Week 16. In those seven games, the Browns are 2-7 with their two wins coming over the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens.
Interestingly, six teams currently have won more games against teams with above .500 records than have lost:
record vs opponents currently > .500:— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) December 27, 2022
3-2: BUF, KC, MIN
2-4: GB, NYJ
2-5: MIA, DET, CLE
1-3: BAL, DEN, ATL, LAC
1-4: TB, NYG, IND
0-4: CAR, NO
0-5: LAR, ARI, NE
0-6: HOU, TEN
Of the 14 teams currently slotted into playoff spots, the Washington Commanders have the worst such record at 1-5-1 with the New York Giants, Los Angeles Chargers and Ravens also having just one win in such games.
Adding in the two teams with a .500 record against winning teams, all eight teams at .500 or better are currently slotted into the playoffs after Week 16.
Two more weeks to go until we get the final data for the 2022 season but it is clear that winning against good teams is, perhaps, even more difficult than “Captain Obvious” would have us think. Just six teams with winning records and two others at .500 or better.
In 2023, Cleveland has a lot of making up to do to join the playoffs but expecting a winning record against good teams would put them in elite company.