Welcome to SB Nation FanPulse — a survey of fans across the NFL, powered by SurveyMonkey. Each week, we send 32 polls to 100+ plugged in fans from each team. Redskins fans, sign up HERE to join FanPulse.
For the 11th time this season, SB Nation has polled 32 fan bases to find out how confident they are about their teams. Redskins fans have been surprisingly — though not completely — stable.
The Hogs Haven readers who respond to the polls have averaged a confidence level of 68.5% across the 11 weeks, with two major dips following the home losses to the Colts in Week 2 and the Falcons in Week 9.
The surprise would be that the confidence didn’t collapse after the beatdown in New Orleans, but since that happened on a Monday night, and most of the FanPulse surveys are filled out on Monday prior to the game, that big dip never really showed up.
This week’s confidence rating stands at 73%, which puts us at 11th position among the surveyed fan bases.
Looking at the chart above, which is sorted in order of confidence, you’ll see that the rankings largely correlate with the number of wins each team has, but perhaps a third of the rankings look out of place.
Surprises in the high confidence group
There are three teams, the Colts, Titans and Browns, that stand out in the high confidence group where no other team has more than three losses. I suspect that these three teams are confident for two reasons. First, they probably include the idea that the front office for their franchise has an effective long-term plan in place, so expectations for 2019 and beyond seem somewhat rosier than the current situation. But also, the three teams have been winning recently.
In the case of the Browns, winning means a single victory this past week over the Falcons, but the fan base had been recording a high level of confidence all year long, until the recent coaching shakeup.
The Titans are on a two-game win streak, and the Colts have won three in a row. Having just whipped the Chargers, Cowboys and Patriots, Tennessee has pushed their fan confidence level up to 94%. Redskins fans should be taking note of what Tennessee is doing right now — Washington plays them in Tennessee in Week 16.
Surprises in the middle group
The Texans and Patriots, at 6-3 and 7-3 respectively, seem a bit out of place in the middle group as far as confidence level is concerned. The Texans fans are at 58%, while the Pats fans are at 51%. Both teams are in first place in their respective divisions.
For the Patriots, this may reflect the fans’ high expectations following 15 years of unparalleled success, as they see their ‘GOAT’ QB, Tom Brady showing signs of being human. With both Brady and Belichick getting older, New England fans may be asking themselves, “What’s next?”
But the current lack of confidence goes beyond some possible vague, uneasy feeling about the future for readers of the Pats Pulpit. This week saw a huge dropoff in confidence for Pats fans (from 85% to 51%) after New England was handled easily by conference rival Tennessee. With the Vikings and Steelers still on the remaining schedule, the Patriots may not be guaranteed the No. 1 seeding and home field advantage in the playoffs, which has so often been a key to their super bowl success.
The Texans’ fans have had low confidence levels all season, after opening up with three losses in the first three weeks of the season. While Houston has a 6-game win streak underway, none of the wins has, by itself, been against a particularly impressive opponent. Houston has beaten (in order): Colts, Cowboys, Bills, Jaguars, Dolphins, Broncos. The timing of those games has seen most of those six teams near the nadir of their season at the time they faced and lost to the Texans.
The 49ers and Bills are surprise entries in the middle-group because the teams are not having a particularly successful season.
Niners fans are probably still buying into the GM-coach-QB triumvirate of Lynch-Shanahan-Garoppolo and carrying a bit of feel-good from the win over the division rival Raiders engineered by UDFA QB Mullens.
The Bills Mafia should be less sanguine about their short-term quarterback situation, but are likely to feel good about the longer-term direction of the franchise because of having
Matt Barkley Josh Allen under contract.
Surprises in the low confidence group
Philly - It’s easy to understand the lack of confidence among Eagles fans. They had unreasonably high expectations of their team following their recent super bowl victory. Eagles fans thought their team was going to run roughshod over the NFC East and charge back into the league championship game as favorites again this post-season. Their confidence might have held up as the reality of the situation sunk in, but they lost at home to the Cowboys this past Sunday. That had to be shocking for these fans, and we saw the resulting drop in confidence from 73% in Week 10 to just 17% this week. Given that the Eagles play on the road in New Orleans and face the hottest team in the NFL at 4:25 p.m. on Sunday, Philly fans have very little reason to feel hopeful of a bounceback win. Fans would have to be disappointed with some of the recent reports that have surfaced in Philly this week.
Jason Kelce says the Eagles are lacking accountability https://t.co/PCT60fFz6o— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 15, 2018
Bleeding Green Nation readers have predicted an 11 point loss on the road to the red-hot Saints. This would be great news for Redskins fans, who would love to see Philly put another game in the loss column to keep the pressure off of the Redskins in the race for the division title.
In the longer term view, Philly fans, who felt very strongly last year that, despite a lack of cap room and a limited number of draft picks, the 2017 core players would be able to perform at a high level again in 2018 will likely need to start questioning whether Howie Roseman was too complacent following last year’s championship. Philly currently has the worst projected salary cap position for 2019, and will be forced to re-shape a roster that is currently a game under .500 and seems destined to be out of the playoffs.
The Bengals, despite being in second place and just one game behind the Steelers in the win column, have lost three out of their last four games, all against AFC opponents. Their only win in the past month has been over the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and that was a narrow 3-point victory. Bengals fans seem braced for a late season collapse with 7 AFC games remaining, including two tough contests against division rival Cleveland Browns, in addition to the Ravens, Chargers and Steelers. With Andy Dalton in his 8th season and Marvin Lewis in his 16th as head coach of the Bengals, Cincy fans have to be wondering where the payoff is. When will this team finally break through with a successful playoff run?
This week in the NFC East
Cowboys (4-5) at Falcons (4-5)
Buccaneers (3-6) at Giants (2-7)
Texans (6-3) at Redskins (6-3)
Eagles (4-5) at Saints (8-1)