Anyone who regularly follows my picks knows that I am a big believer in YTD scoring differential being a reliable predictor of future outcomes. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at three NFL teams that aren’t as good as their record says they are.
1. Bears (WL record: 5-2, Point Differential -2) - It should be common sense that a team that’s been outscored on the season probably should not have a 5-2 record. Anyone who watched the Bears play on Monday Night Football against the Rams probably doesn’t think they should be 5-2 either. This is a team that’s been extremely fortunate in the early going. They have won two games in which they trailed by double digits in the fourth quarter. They somehow beat Tampa Bay despite being outgained 5.3 to 4.1 on a yards per play basis. The offense isn’t good as it’s been held under 20 points in half of its games, two of those coming since the move to Nick Foles. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears ended up missing the playoffs.
2. Bills (WL record: 5-2, Point Differential: -4) - I’m not nearly as high on this Bills team as some others seem to be. Once again, having a negative point differential seems to justify my position. The Bills snapped a two-game losing streak on Sunday by beating the Jets 18-10. But they did not cover the large spread. It’s also worth mentioning they’ve beaten the winless Jets twice. They have no other wins by more than seven points and were dominated in games against two of the AFC’s best teams (KC, Tennessee). The offense has been held to an average of 17 PPG the L3 weeks, a stretch which has seen them go 0-3 ATS. A win this Sunday against New England would put the Bills at 6-2 and firmly in control of the AFC East. But this is an average, not great team.
3. Cleveland (WL record: 5-2, Point Differential -21) - This is the biggest “offender” on our list. The Browns were dominated in losses to the Ravens and Steelers, but are 5-0 otherwise. Those losses to the Ravens and Steelers were by a combined 63 points. Three of the five wins have come at the expense of Cincinnati (both close) and Washington (were +5 in turnovers). The upcoming schedule is favorable and the addition of a 7th playoff spot this year may very well end up being what snaps Cleveland’s 18-year playoff drought. But this isn’t a very good team. Note their point differential is roughly the same as the 1-6 Falcons!