Finding success in the NFL is challenging. Finding prolonged success is even more challenging. Winning 10 or more games in a season can certainly be considered a success. So how do teams fare the year after a 10-win season? Between 2010 and 2019, there were 110 10-win teams in the NFL. Here’s a closer look at how these teams did the following year.
The 2020 season produced 13 teams with at least 10 wins — tied for the highest number of teams since 2010. The list of teams in 2020 is as follows: Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Los Angeles Rams. This was the first time since 2002 the New England Patriots did not hit the 10-win mark.
According to the data collected, half (~48%) of these teams won’t repeat the success they had in 2020, from a wins perspective. Of the 110 teams since 2010 that have had 10 or more wins in a season, 57 of those teams had 10 or more wins the next season while 53 of those teams failed to hit the 10-win mark. Of those 57 teams that repeated the success in the win column the next season, nine of those teams are the New England Patriots. From 2010-18, New England had 10 or more wins in every season.
Teams that failed to reach 10 wins the season following:
- Scored 3.59 fewer points per game than the previous season.
- Allowed 3.50 more points per game than the previous season.
- Lost an average of 4.51 more games than the previous season.
Teams that successfully hit or eclipsed 10 wins the following season:
- Scored 0.53 more points per game than the previous season.
- Allowed just 0.52 more points per game than the previous season.
- Won an average of 0.5 more games than the previous season.
When you look at those teams that failed to hit or eclipse 10 wins the season after doing so, one thing stuck out the most. For most cases, the team’s quarterback either missed games or regressed in play. An example of this was the 2010-11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Josh Freeman’s numbers were night and day different from each season. Quarterback play was the cause for the majority of these teams.
For the rest of the teams who regressed, it was the team as a whole. A good example of this was the 2014 New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees had another good year in 2014, but the team failed to reach 10 wins. The biggest difference was the play of their defense, which went from being fourth in the league in points allowed to 28th.
Based on the outcomes from 2010-19, here are a few 10-win teams from 2020 that could regress in 2021:
New Orleans Saints
Green Bay Packers (if Aaron Rodgers continues his holdout)
The data suggests that six or seven of last year’s 13 10-win teams will take a step back in 2021. The reason I picked the four teams above: quarterback play. As of right now all these teams with the exception of the Steelers are set to open Week 1 with a different quarterback than they had in 2020 (again, assuming a Rodgers holdout, which is too soon to predict). Pittsburgh makes the list because of the regression Ben Roethlisberger showed during the 2020 season. One other team that can be considered for this list is the Tennessee Titans. While they didn’t have a change at the quarterback position, they did lose their offensive coordinator this offseason.