The San Francisco 49ers schedule this season will feature five games against playoff teams. They face the Seattle Seahawks twice, and one game each against the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants.
From that group, there is a decent chance one of them takes a step back. Every year, there is turnover in playoff teams. Some teams will build on the previous season, but there is going to be some regression.
Early candidates for regression could be the Giants, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, and Miami Dolphins. Football Outsiders editor Scott Kacsmar tweeted out a stat that will be worth tracking in 2017.
All four teams with 6+ 4Q wins last year lost in the Wild Card round (DET, OAK, MIA, NYG). Granted, injured QB1 for two of them, but still.— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) May 29, 2017
There are numerous factors that impact if a team will regress or improve from one season to the next. One factor is close wins and losses. Close wins are generally not sustainable from one year to the next. That’s not to say it won’t happen each season, but statistically, a regression should not surprise anybody.
The Raiders are going to be an intriguing team to consider this season. They lost in the wild card round, but they also were without Derek Carr due to his broken leg. They may struggle in close games, but it’s also possible that as they continue building there, they have more sizable wins that offsets it.
The Dallas Cowboys finished outside of this group, but it is worth noting that Dak Prescott brought them from behind in five of their wins. They’ve got a lot of talent around Dak to keep helping him move forward, but will he build on last year, or take a step back?
The Carolina Panthers are one of the 49ers opponents I could see taking a step back into contention this season, but what about teams that might take a step back?