The start of the 2017 NFL regular season is 98 days away, but that doesn’t meant we can’t all but stamp out playoff hopes for San Francisco 49ers fans! There is plenty of optimism in the air following free agency and the NFL draft, but the 49ers do still have a lot of work to do, and plenty to prove once real football actually starts.
ESPN has developed a Sports Analytics team, and each year they produce a Football Power Index. It comes efficiency ratings on offense, defense, and special teams (based on each unit's expected points added per play) to come up with a rating that factors in a variety of variables (For more on how FPI is calculated, click here and here.). They use that to simulate the 2017 season 10,000 times, and that helps them project team chances for playoff results and draft order.
They recently posted their 2017 FPI, and it is not surprising the 49ers are projected near the bottom of the league. The simulations resulted in a 49ers projection of 5.1-10.9, with a 1.5 percent chance of winning the NFC West. Their overall playoff chances are installed at 3 percent, with a 0.1 percent chance of claiming the No. 1 seed. They have a less than 0.1 percent chance of reaching the Super Bowl.
Last year, ESPN released their FPI projections shortly before the first game of the regular season. They had the 49ers with 5.6 wins, a two percent chance of winning the division, and a five percent chance of making the playoffs. However, they also had the 49ers with the second best odds of claiming the No. 1 pick, and a 50-50 shot of picking in the top five.
This year, the 49ers again have the second best odds of claiming the No. 1 pick at 19.5 percent. The Cleveland Browns are up top at 21.4 percent, while the New York Jets are right behind the 49ers at 15.9 percent. The 49ers have a 62.9 percent chance at a top five pick, and an 84.3 percent chance at a top ten pick.
The 49ers win total is set at 4.5 wins, and a lot of people are taking the OVER at this point. I’m still not quite sure if I’m comfortable wagering on something the public is so heavily pushing. It makes sense for people to be optimistic. The process in place seems positive, and it feels like we’re seeing the team upgrade in numerous ways, but I keep coming back to a common mantra among sports bettors. If the public loves something, run screaming for the hills. But hey, we can get optimistic, right?