Do the Oakland Raiders Really Have the Worst Roster in the NFL?

The Oakland Raiders were one of the worst teams in the NFL last season—winning only four games makes that an irrefutable fact.

Although it's an opinion, it’s totally reasonable to say that the Raiders still have one of the worst rosters in the league.

Do the Raiders have the worst roster? Perhaps they do, but that doesn’t mean their record will reflect it. Even bad teams can win seven or eight games.

Every team in the NFL makes offseason changes to try to get better—some will get better and others will get worse. Some analysts believe the Raiders got worse and will therefore remain one of the worst teams in the league.

Some analysts also equate roster talent with team record, but that’s a big mistake. Regression and progression toward the mean is the norm in the NFL because that’s what history shows.

The Numbers

Since 2008, only one NFL team that finished with four or fewer wins failed to improve their record the following year. Believe it or not, 95 percent of the teams improved by at least one win, 80 percent by two wins and 60 percent by three wins or more.

The average improvement of teams that finished with four or fewer wins was 3.8 wins the following season. Teams that won exactly four games improved by 3.1 wins the following year on average.

In the last three years, teams have improved by an average of 4.6 wins the year after winning four or fewer games. That’s pretty amazing when you consider the sample was 14 teams. Also interesting is that 11 of the 14 teams improved by three or more wins the following year.

To suggest the Raiders will be worse is a much bolder statement than it looks by just analyzing past performance of the players on the roster or a quarterback situation. If the Raiders are going to be an exception to recent history, a lot is going to have to go wrong.


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