Commentary

Three keys to the comeback season

Your team was sub-.500 last year? No worries; these factors can get them on track

Originally Published: August 31, 2010
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders
Getty ImagesC.J. Spiller figures to be dynamic, but the real reason the Bills could surprise is a likely increase in team health.

The miracle comeback season.

If you're a fan of the St. Louis Rams -- six wins in the last three years -- or the Buffalo Bills -- no playoff appearances since 1999 -- you long for this type of season.

The good news for you is: it has a statistical signature.

After looking at the ten teams with the biggest single-season increases in wins over the past five years, we've found that their dramatic turnarounds have been driven by one (or more) of three statistical indicators; the most powerful indicator of the three has driven half of those turnarounds, including the biggest shifts in each of the past two seasons. And the team most likely to benefit from it in 2010 is one that's off of everyone's radar screen.

In decreasing level of importance, those indicators are:


To see all the factors and which sub-.500 teams in 2009 figure to improve in those areas in 2010, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) is a staff writer for Grantland.