Home > Uncategorized > Just Restating The Obvious: NFL Preseason Games Don’t Matter

Just Restating The Obvious: NFL Preseason Games Don’t Matter

Sure, they matter to players who need to either get their reps in before the start of the season or impress somebody just to make the team. They matter to coaches who need to evaluate exactly what they are dealing with. They matter to owners who make regular-season money off of preseason tickets.

But really, they don’t matter.

So the New England Patriots’ offense has been exceptional, eh? As of Sunday morning, only the Patriots have scored more points this August than the Detroit Lions. The reigning AFC West champs, the Kansas City Chiefs, have looked dismal and are busy complaining about issues where they are completely in the wrong. John Beck and Rex Grossman have been very productive while the Washington Redskins have gotten the best of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts.

Great.

Don’t care.

Preseason success or failure foreshadows nothing. Maybe you already know this, but here’s a reminder using preseason records of some of the NFL’s best and worst teams from the previous five seasons.

The Good (48 or more wins since 2006)

New England Patriots: 9-11, including an 0-4 record in 2008. That team won 11 games and barely missed the playoffs with Matt Cassel at quarterback. They went 2-2 during the 2007 preseason. Then they didn’t lose another game until February. They have won 63 regular-season games since 2006, the most of any team by a wide margin.

Philadelphia Eagles: 8-13. I can find results from only 2004-present, but the Eagles didn’t have a winning preseason record in any of those years despite winning 67 regular-season games over the span.

New York Giants: 10-10. Went 0-4 in ’06, won eight games. Went 1-3 in ’07, won the Super Bowl.

Baltimore Ravens: 11-9. The Ravens were victorious in just one preseason game in 2007 and the failure carried over to a 5-11 regular season. The Ravens were victorious in just one preseason game in 2008 and the failure carried over to … actually, it didn’t carry over. Baltimore won 11 games and played for the AFC Championship.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 13-8. Evidence to the contrary, the Steelers have done well in the preseason lately. They won three preseason games each season they made the Super Bowl in the past decade — 2005, 2008 and 2010. They went 0-4 in 2006 and missed the playoffs, so maybe there’s something here? Well, they did win three preseason games in 2009 as well. Still missed the playoffs, too.

Green Bay Packers:  9-11. They split four preseason games last season, which ended pretty well for them.

Indianapolis Colts: 4-17. Peyton Manning doesn’t play much, but that is still awful. Only the Patriots have won more regular-season game since 2006.

New Orleans Saints: 11-10. They won the NFC South in 2006 after a 1-3 preseason.

San Diego Chargers: 11-9. Somehow, they play better in August than in September. In 2006, they lost two games each in the regular season and the preseason.

The Bad (32 or fewer wins since 2006)

Detroit Lions: 13-7. They infamously went 4-0 for the 2008 preseason. They went until the 2009 preseason without winning a game.

Cleveland Browns: 9-11. The Browns have gone .500 or better in four of the past five preseasons. The offense — Colt McCoy, specifically — has looked good in 2011. However, I fully expect them to win six or fewer games for the eighth time in nine years.

St. Louis Rams: 11-9. In three of the last four seasons, the Rams won as many or more games in the preseason than they won in the ensuing regular season.

Oakland Raiders: 11-10. In the 2006 preseason: 4-1, 16.6 points per game. In the 2006 regular season: 2-14, 10.5 points per game. At least that horrid season gave the Raiders the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, and JaMarcus Russell really turned this franchise around 360 degrees.

Kansas City Chiefs: 5-15. In the past five seasons, the Chiefs have two playoff appearances bookending three years with a combined 10 wins. No matter the result, they haven’t put up a lot of ‘W’s the preseason. They are continuing that trend in 2011.

Washington Redskins: 8-13. In a far-away universe where the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles are equal …

Buffalo Bills: 8-12: The Bills, who haven’t been over .500 at the end of a season since 2004, have played .500 ball in the preseason for three of the past four years.

I guess my point here is that you should watch these games to get a glance of the greats before the regular season. Watch these games to see which valuable players get injured. Watch the games because the gap between those who make up the first string and those who make up the third string often leads to many hilarious results.

But don’t get all concerned about how awesome or how poor your team looks on the field until that second weekend in September.

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