How Tom Brady's Suspension Impacts the New England Patriots' Playoff Chances
My personal take on the Tom Brady suspension won't change what's happened. And this is numberFire -- do you really want my hot take, or do you want to know the actual, algorithmic-driven impact of the four-game suspension dropped on Brady by the NFL yesterday?
I'll assume the latter.
numberFire's Chief Analyst, Keith Goldner, ran some numbers to show how this suspension changes the Patriots' outlook in 2015. And really, Patriot fans, it could be a lot worse.
As you can see, Brady missing four games means the Patriots' playoff odds drop roughly five percentage points, going from about 67 percent to 62 percent. And their championship odds and division odd changes aren't all that drastic, either.
The reason for this small drop is two-fold. First, according to Keith, the season is still far away, and with natural randomness factored, the Patriots -- a team well above league average -- will have already regressed toward more of a league-average performance in 2015.
The second part of this is probably more important though: it's only four games. Yes, that's a quarter of the season, but let's not assume the Patriots go winless to start the season. After all, last season, according to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, New England had the sixth-best defense in the NFL when adjusted for strength of schedule. Of course this defense won't look the same as it did last year, but it's hard to imagine it won't at least rank in the top half of the league next season.
The offense will certainly suffer. According to Chief Keith, without Brady, the Patriots will drop about two points per game. That's pretty significant considering it's one dude. But, again, he'll still be playing 12 games (which is being appealed) for New England this year, so it's not as though all hope is lost.
Vegas is seeing roughly the same thing. Despite Brady being out Week 1, the Patriots-Steelers game -- depending on where you look -- still has the Patriots as slight favorites.
To many, the suspension is unjust. That may be the case. But at least, according to the numbers, the 2015 impact isn't tremendous.
The draft picks are another story.