You probably know that Cleveland was bad last year. The Browns won one game and by nearly every metric were one of the worst teams in the league. What you might not know is that despite the 15 losses, the team actually held leads in six games at halftime. The five losses after leading the first two quarters were tied with the Chargers for the most in the NFL in 2016.
Being bad is what the Browns do. The franchise hasn’t had a winning record since 2007. You’d be forgiven for thinking that a team that loses with halftime leads would do so season after season. That’s not the case.
Since 2004, there have been 47 teams (3 or 4 a year) that blew four or more halftime leads in a season. The next year, on average, those same teams give up 1.8 halftime leads. Holding onto leads helps these teams to win 2.1 more games the following season.
In 2015, the Cowboys and Giants struggled to close out games. Dallas lost 5 contests after leading at halftime and New York gave up four leads. A year later each team only blew one halftime lead, which led to playoff berths.
Of course, not every team improves the next season. The Chargers lost four games after leading at halftime in 2015 and lost five in 2016. Part of that can be explained by injuries. Per adjusted games lost only the Bears were bitten worse by the injury bug than the Chargers.
The Browns, Chargers and Panthers each lost four or more games last year after leading at halftime. It is unlikely they blow so many games again. These teams are all candidates to improve based on this stat plus other predictive measures such as record in close games, turnover differential and defensive touchdowns allowed.
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