Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated knee and a torn ACL Tuesday in a noncontact drill at practice. The Minnesota Vikings said the injury would end the young quarterback’s 2016 season. Sunday, Tony Romo broke a bone in his back during a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. The Cowboys have not issued a timetable for the quarterbacks return.
What impact will these and future injuries have on their respective teams? To answer that question we turn to Football Outsiders Adjusted Games Lost. This metric quantifies how teams are affected by injuries. It doesn’t simply added up the number of games missed, it also accounts for the player’s impact on the team (injuries to starters matter more than to a replacement level talent).
What is interesting about adjusted games lost is that the correlation between the metric and the number of regular season wins in 2015 was -0.32 (in line with the average over the years). This means that there is not a strong relationship between the number of adjusted games lost and team performance. That is because a team can overcome injuries as long as they don’t occur to certain players.
This is bad news for the Cowboys and Vikings. Losing your franchise quarterback at the start of the season rarely ends well. Last year for example, Dallas had the fifth best adjusted games lost score. The ‘Boys stayed relatively healthy expect for key injuries to Tony Romo and Dez Bryant early in the year. The team managed just four wins without their stars.
Similarly, the correlation between adjusted games lost and against-the-spread wins is weak (-0.16 in 2015). This makes sense, bookmakers adjust the lines for known injuries. However, an injury to a starting quarterback can be hard to overcome regardless of how much the oddsmakers move the line. Sticking with the Cowboys example from a year ago, Dallas went just 4-11-1 ATS, -7.3 units (least profitable team in football).
The injuries to Romo and Bridgewater are just the beginning. For some teams when the injury bug bites it won’t be to key players and the team will be able to overcome the losses. Unfortunately, Dallas and Minnesota were not as lucky.
|Rank||Team||2015 AGL||ATS Record|
|7||Kansas City Chiefs||54.9||8-8|
|8||New Orleans Saints||56.1||8-7-1|
|9||Green Bay Packers||56.2||9-7|
|13||New York Jets||61.6||8-6-2|
|22||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||75||7-9|
|24||St. Louis Rams||80.3||7-8-1|
|26||San Francisco 49ers||83.9||7-9|
|27||San Diego Chargers||88.5||8-8|
|29||New England Patriots||93.3||7-7-2|
|32||New York Giants||138.7||8-7-1|