While we like to ignore most preseason records, we do take a look to see how teams measure up in our “relative performance measure” (RPM). However, similar to preseason records, YOU CAN’T READ TOO MUCH INTO THESE NUMBERS. The reason we do present them is to highlight any warning signs that teams may be exhibiting.
While these RPMs are interesting to look at and speculate about, you have to remember two things: Only three preseason games are used in generating these numbers and preseason games are not coached or even played like regular season games.
Since the RPMs are an average of just three games, a single game like the Saints thumping of the Raiders, can skew things for these two teams. The Saints vaulted to the top while the Raiders sunk to the bottom. The Saints’ RPM number of 90 is a better game average than the 2007 Patriots who had an RPM of 83 and went 16-0. At PossessionPoints.com, we admit that we like the Saints a lot this season, but not that much.
It is nice to see that the preseason Saints are not doing anything to make us back off our preseason preview prediction which says that New Orleans will be a playoff team this year. But note that the Falcons are right there on the Saints’ heels in the preseason, so that could be a very interesting division to watch.
Right behind the Saints and Falcons are last year’s two Super Bowl teams: the Steelers and Cardinals. The Steelers had a full season RPM last year of just over 40, and their preseason number is very similar.
The Giants, Eagles, Texans and Packers are all teams we think could and should make the playoffs, and their RPMs are right around 0. It is not impossible for teams to get into the playoffs with an RPM that low, but when it happens typically a team loses their first playoff game. (See the article we wrote in January, Playoff Upsets – What Upsets?)
An RPM in the low, single-digit, negative numbers to an RPM that goes positive is not something to get too concerned about in the preseason from our point of view.
The opposite is true too. You’ve probably heard it a hundred times this preseason: The Lions went 4-0 last year in the and then went 0-16 in the regular season. Preseason numbers would have been misleading at best putting the Lions near the top of the chart..
So, are we concerned about the 1-2 Chargers who have a terrible -55 RPM? Yes, we are a little. To us, this might be a warning flag. We would rather see the Chargers’ RPM up there with the 0-3 Broncos. But the Chargers have started slowly in the regular season in the past and still managed to make the playoffs. Will they repeat that trend this season? Perhaps, they are getting their slow start out of the way in the preseason, so they can get into a winning frame of mind quickly in the regular season.
We hope that is the case, as they might not be able to afford being upset by the Raiders in their opener this year since they have the Ravens and Steelers as two of their next three opponents. We would hate to see them go into their early bye week with a 1-3 record especially since our preseason preview was expecting them to be 3-1 at that point.
Ain’t the preseason fun?
If you want more reading on the relevance of the RPM then perhaps in addition to the article we linked to above (Playoff Upsets – What Upsets?), these two articles we wrote before last season's Super Bowl might be informative.