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Football Outsiders Offers Far-Too-Early Playoff Odds For Steelers, NFL

Football Outsiders is one of several popular analytics website dedicated to the nation’s most popular sport, exploring angles of the game that other outlets do not. Yesterday, the site posted its updated playoff odds report, compiled by Mike Harris, which breaks down a number of statistical odds pertaining to the outcome of the regular season.

According to the site’s data, Harris’ compendium of statistics list the Pittsburgh Steelers end of season Mean Wins total at 9.1, granting them a 34.5 percent chance of repeating as the champions of the AFC North.

The Cincinnati Bengals, already at 2-0, as opposed to the Steelers’ 1-1, pace the division with a Mean Wins total of 10.1, giving them at 51.9 percent chance of reclaiming the division title after an eighth of the season has been played.

In all, the Steelers are given just under a 50 percent chance of making the playoffs at any seed, with a 14.7 percent chance of claiming one of the top two seeds with a bye week. The Bengals have at 68.2 percent chance of making the playoffs, with a 29.6 percent chance of landing a bye week.

According to the percentage breakdowns, it appears that the Steelers’ most likely positional seeding based on the current available data is the third seed, with a 14.2 percent chance overall, followed by the second seed at 10.1 percent. They have a 9.2 percent chance to end up grabbing the final wildcard spot.

During his weekly press conference yesterday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about his three two-point conversion attempts so far through the first two games of the season and what process goes in to making the decision to go for a two-point attempt rather than a point after attempt.

Tomlin said that while he respects the work of analytics, he recognizing that football is a game played by emotional and driven men, and that as a result he prefers to go by feel to decide when to go for two points, rather than what the statistical probabilities tell him.

It should go without saying that Tomlin would scoff at Football Outsiders’ futile attempts at calculating playoff odds two games into the season, and nobody would judge you if you chose to do so yourself. There are so many factors that play into the fate of all 32 teams that to make any kind of meaningful projection at this point is nothing but wasted effort.

The outlet’s playoff odds data set is updated regularly as they plug in new numbers from each game, however, and with every new drop of information is created a more complete and accurate portrait of the current landscape.

It goes without saying that these early projections contain far too small a sample size to bear much weight, so take the information provided above at your leisure, and refrain from putting much stock in it. From week one to week two alone, the Steelers’ odds of making the playoffs increased by 20.8 percent, the second-largest change, positively or negative, in the league.

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