Cleveland’s shot to join the ‘Biggest turnaround ever’ club

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The Cleveland Browns are surely hoping to pull off a ’99 Colts or an ’08 Dolphins.

Those are the only two teams since 1970 that have made a 10-win improvement from one year to the next. And while a 10-win jump from the hapless, zero-win 2017 campaign seems like a near impossibility, there is certainly some preseason buzz that this Browns team could at least win some games in 2018. And the “Hard Knocks” bump has barely even kicked in!

To a degree, ESPN’s Football Power Index is joining the party, giving Cleveland a 55 percent chance to win at least six games this season. From a historical standpoint, that’s more realistic, given that 68 teams since the merger made a six-win improvement from one year to the next.

By far the biggest reason the Browns have the best chance to improve by such a large amount is precisely because they won zero times in 2017. In a league with as much luck as the NFL, regression to the mean has a heavy influence on future seasons’ results. Consider: Since the merger, 23 percent of teams that finished a season with 0-3 wins improved by six or more wins the following year. Teams with 4-9 wins accomplished the feat only 5 percent of the time.4

So it stands to reason that since no team was farther from the mean than Cleveland, no team is more likely to make that kind of improvement. Which is exactly the case here, and the No. 1 reason why FPI gives the Browns the best chance in the league to make a dramatic improvement.

Regardless, when FPI is evaluating the Browns and projecting their level of play in 2018, it thinks about them as coming off a season of bad play — not all-time bad play.

Presumably, Vegas also sees last year’s Cleveland team along these lines (their Pythagorean record based on points scored and points allowed was 3.3-12.7, per, as the Browns’ win total earlier this week was 5.5 at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. Vegas win totals are also an input into nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Beyond that, there’s one other major factor propping up Cleveland’s projected win total: Tyrod Taylor. The former Bills quarterback is a QBR darling because he possesses two skills that are undervalued by traditional statistics: ball security and running ability. In other words, he’s better than most people think.

Even more important, he’s a heck of a lot better than DeShone Kizer. Taylor has a career Total QBR of 60.6, far above Kizer’s 29.4 from last season. Taylor’s expected QBR is factored into FPI.