Do the Chiefs have Momentum?



Alright. Training camp has started! Don’t look now but we actually have some real football news coming out. It’s a great time of year where no team is without at least some hope. And, if you frequent this website enough, Chiefs fans are full of it (hope, not bologna… you jokesters). I’ve been sitting with an idea in my head, one of the few, for a couple of months now. The idea, which is not extremely intuitive, is the concept of momentum carried into an offseason. You hear it all the time when a team finishes a season well and then supposedly carry that momentum into the offseason and, eventually, into the following regular season.

With the Chiefs having a decent finish to their regular season of 2 wins and 1 loss in the final three games, I decided to take a look back in order to delve deeper into this idea of, "momentum." For those that don’t know, defines momentum as: Force or speed of movement: impetus, as of a physical object or course of events. OK, glad we can clear that up.

Rather than bore everyone with my thought processes throughout this small project, I’ll just tell you what I did. Using the internet (Wikipedia and, I went back to gather team’s records for the final three games of one year and their corresponding record for the following year. In order to gain a significant sample size (they’re never big enough, eh?), I went back to the last 3 games of the 2001 season and worked my way up to the present (32 teams x 10 years = uhhhh not sure but it should be good enough). And, may I just say, holy shit… if I would have known it would have taken as long as it did, I would have never started. But, like a can of Pringles, I just couldn’t stop, damnit. And the whole time I’m thinking to myself, "this isn’t going to tell you anything, you’re wasting your time."

To explain the system I chose, I’ll give an example. The Patriots finished their 2001 regular season with a 3-0 record. So, they scored a 3. The following season (2002 regular season) they finished 9-7, giving them 9 wins. So that 3 was the "momentum" that carried into the next season and garnered them a 9 win season. They finished the 2002 season 1-2. So they scored a 1. The 2003 season, they had 14 wins. So that 1 was the "momentum" that carried into the next season and garnered them a 14 win season. Looking at that, this momentum idea seems like a bunch of crap. (note: I didn’t include any playoff games, one of the many holes to this whole idea). If a team goes 0-3 in their final three, they score a 0…and I’m sure you get the idea from there.

Anyway, I continued to run all of the numbers for every team. At the very end I had a bunch of 0’s, 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s that were associated with wins the following year. I then took all of the teams that scored a 0 at the end of one season (from 2001 to the end of the 2010 season, 52 teams finished their regular season 0-3) and averaged the number of wins they had the following season. I then did this for the rest of the data I had compiled.

And, for those who are ready to bash the whole premise of this before continuing reading, I know this research isn’t without numerous holes. For one, for those of extreme knowledge, the Texans weren’t in existence in 2001. So to solve that problem, I gave them a zero… giving them no momentum into their first off season and into the 2002 season (they had 4 wins in 2002, maybe this isn’t looking so bad?). And, given the amount of roster/coaches/GMs that change from year to year… there’s just no way to quantify this sort of thing. So, I did this research strictly looking at the city and team. Each team was its own entity, separated from the people that it consisted of. The Kansas City Chiefs have had numerous moving parts since the end of 2001 and every year thereafter. But, they have remained the Kansas City Chiefs that whole time, and that concept is what supported the idea of this research.

Well, without further ado, let’s look at the numbers and some facts that I thought were interesting. To make it nice, here’s a little chart (i say nice but i know it's not going to turn out nice when i publish this thing). The column on the left is the "momentum" score, and the one on the right is the average number of wins the following season.









Ok, this is kind of interesting. And, honestly, it’s roughly what I expected. I thought there would be significant jump from 0 to 3, with 1 and 2 being fairly close to one another. But, I didn’t think it would appear to be so formulaic. Looking at the data, it appeared to act in a logarithmic pattern (sorry, I never meant for it to get this mathy….but I’m sure some will find it interesting)

Here’s what I mean… (I had to give 0 a score of 0.01 in order to develop a formula because the log of 0 is not defined)



For those unfamiliar with probability, that R squared term is extremely good for data of this type.

Anyway, I ran these numbers out of curiosity and didn’t want this post to become too lengthy. But what does this mean for our Kansas City Chiefs? That we should win 8.48 games this year, right? Well, obviously, no. These numbers are just averages of the past 10 seasons and are not without their outliers. But, it doesn't speak poorly of our chances and, much to my surprise, does support an idea of momentum in the NFL in a quantifying manner. Cool.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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