Were the New Orleans Saints lucky to finish the year at 7-10? Maybe so. Research from Tom Bliss, the manager of Football ops data science for the NFL, found that the Saints benefited from a lot of bounces going their way during the 2022 season. He points to examples of luck like the opposing team dropping would-be interceptions, fumble recoveries, missed kicks, and opposing receivers dropping passes. Bliss took each of those stats and tabulated them into wins added per team.
Bizarrely, the Saints ranked high in a lot of those categories. New Orleans led the NFL in opponents' dropped passes, which added a full +1.15 win to their cumulative total. And they stood out from the pack by a wide margin there, with next-closest being the Jacksonville Jaguars (+0.79). Their final ranking in the "good luck" rankings was seventh-best in the NFL.
However, that freakish performance outweighed the Saints' more-typical performance in other areas. They ranked near or below league-average in opposing teams' dropped interceptions (+0.02), missed kicks (-0.38), and fumble recoveries (-0.18). So if their luck with those dropped passes was closer to normal, the Saints look more like pedestrians than leaders in these good luck rankings.
Here's the full tabulation from Bliss:
As we can see, the New York Giants were the luckiest team in the NFL last year thanks to good breaks on fumble recoveries and dropped interceptions, while the Buffalo Bills were unluckiest due to so many fumbles getting picked up by the opposing team. Bliss considered fumbles as examples of 50/50 randomness to even the playing-field in that category.
Hopefully the Saints can enjoy more good luck next season, but you'd like to think they can figure out enough things within their control to where it doesn't matter (as was the case for Buffalo, who made it to the second round of the playoffs). New Orleans needs to play better football rather than hope for good fortune in 2023.
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Story originally appeared on Saints Wire