The first week of the season was marked by the upset of the Super Bowl Finalists Arizona Cardinals and a few very close games between divisional opponents. The Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars were all better than expected but they still lost so what does this mean for the rest of their season?
Looking at data since 2002, the winner of a week one game averages 9.1 regular season wins while the loser averages 6.9. The value of a win in the standings is obviously 1.0 but this shows that by winning a game in week one you will average 2.2 more wins than a team that lost. That number drops to 1.4 if the loss was by six points or less which means that the Titans, Jaguars, Bengals, Cardinals, Redskins, Bears, Bills and Raiders are all still in very good shape. However, it will be much more difficult for teams that lost by a touchdown or more. Since 2002, teams that lose their first game by seven points or more average only 6.5 wins over the final 15 games.
However, since we have no points of comparisons after only one game it may be more interesting to see how teams that faced off in week one compare at the end of the year. In the past seven years, the winner of the week one game had the same or better record at the end of the year than the team he had defeated in week one 72% of the time. The percentage increases slightly if the victory was acquired on the road but the difference is only 2%.
If we look only at divisional match-ups, the winner of the week one game had a better regular season record only 20 times out of 36 and once they had the same record. This therefore means that teams that defeated a non-divisional opponent have a 79% chance of finishing with the same or better record than their opponent.
In conclusion, teams that are standing at 1-0 are obviously in better shape than those at 0-1 but if your team lost a heartbreaker in week one they are still in good shape; especially if that loss was to a divisional opponent since they will get a chance to even the match-up later in the year.