Does Tom Brady's Overturned Suspension Really Impact New England's Super Bowl Chances?
It's easy to think a team's star quarterback missing a quarter of the NFL season is a big deal to that squad's playoff and Super Bowl odds. But with Tom Brady and the 2015 New England Patriots, that's not really the case.
With a four-game suspension to their quarterback, New England had 57.6% odds of making the playoffs, with 36.4% odds of winning the division. That, according to our own math geek, Keith Goldner. With Brady under center for every game this year, the Patriots' playoff odds jump to 60.5%, while their division-winning probability now sits at 37.7%. In other words, their playoff chances rose just under three percentage points, while their odds of winning the AFC East jumped by 1.3 percent.
Much of this has to do with the fact that, while four games is a good chunk of the NFL season, we shouldn't assume they'd lose all four of those contests. Even just two wins would still keep them competitive. The Patriots are a strong team and well-coached, too. Don't forget that they went 11-5 with Matt Cassel back in 2008.
Not surprisingly, Brady not being suspended did very little to the team's Super Bowl winning probability. Prior to the suspension it was 5.8%, and now it's 6.1%. That's because Brady would've been back for the playoffs regardless, so the change in odds has to do with potential seeding and playoff probability.
So while the Patriots should be excited that they're getting their stud signal-caller for the first four games of the season, let's not overstate what it means. The Patriots were going to be good regardless.