Commentary

Don't overreact to Week 1 blowouts

Hope remains for the Steelers, Falcons and Chiefs to make the playoffs

Originally Published: September 15, 2011
By Aaron Schatz | Football Outsiders
Ben Roethlisberger AP Photo/Nick WassBen Roethlisberger and the Pittsbugh Steelers had a Week 1 performance to forget.

Last week, three teams that won at least 10 games last year -- the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts -- lost the first game of the new season by at least three touchdowns. A fourth team, the Atlanta Falcons, lost by 18 points.

In all four cases, the team was down by at least 13 points at halftime. In other words, these games didn't turn into blowouts late -- they were over quickly.

There's no question that a blowout loss in Week 1 is a bad sign. But can teams recover and still make the playoffs? Yes, of course they can -- and they are even more likely to recover if they are already coming off good seasons.

We'll define a blowout loss here as three or more touchdowns, so 21 or more points. From 1983-2010, 17 teams suffered a blowout loss in Week 1 despite coming off a season of double-digit wins. These teams eventually averaged 7.4 wins in those seasons. That sounds bad, but teams with similar Week 1 losses that weren't coming off double-digit-win seasons averaged just 5.4 wins.


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