clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Last Three Games: Projecting the Championship playoff race

Fulham did what they needed to do, but they didn’t get as much help as from others as they would have hoped for. What does this do to the state of the race?

Hull City v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

How things stand

Fulham played two games and earned six points, including winning 3-1 on the road while playing most of the game down a man. The managed to just squeak into the playoff spots on goal differential because Reading and Sheffield Wednesday just won’t stop winning. Here’s the look of the current standings.

Current Playoff Race

Team Position Games Played Points Points Per Game Goals For Goals Against Goal Differential Pythagorean Points Pythagorean PPG
Team Position Games Played Points Points Per Game Goals For Goals Against Goal Differential Pythagorean Points Pythagorean PPG
Huddersfield 4 42 78 1.86 54 49 5 61.26 1.46
Leeds United 7 43 73 1.70 56 41 15 70.79 1.65
Reading 3 43 79 1.84 61 59 2 60.68 1.41
Sheffield Wednesday 5 43 75 1.74 56 42 14 69.90 1.63
Fulham 6 43 73 1.70 78 54 24 74.01 1.72
Preston North End 10 43 61 1.42 62 57 5 62.61 1.46
Norwich City 8 43 63 1.47 76 66 10 65.33 1.52
Derby County 9 43 62 1.44 48 45 3 61.20 1.42

Fulham and Leeds United continue to lead the contending teams in Pythagorean Points, but Wednesday is catching up fast. The smoke and mirrors approach may be finally running out for Leeds as they have started to struggle mightily. Regression to the mean can be a bad thing when you’ve been overperforming. Looking at the advanced stats makes this much clearer.

Current Playoff Race Advanced Stats

Team Position Games Played Points Points Per Game xGF xGA xGD Pythagorean Points Pythagorean PPG
Team Position Games Played Points Points Per Game xGF xGA xGD Pythagorean Points Pythagorean PPG
Huddersfield 4 42 78 1.86 57.12 46.2 10.92 65.60 1.56
Leeds United 7 43 73 1.70 52.89 54.18 -1.29 58.20 1.35
Reading 3 43 79 1.84 53.75 67.94 -14.19 50.68 1.18
Sheffield Wednesday 5 43 75 1.74 63.64 41.71 21.93 75.33 1.75
Fulham 6 43 73 1.70 73.53 54.18 19.35 71.46 1.66
Preston North End 10 43 61 1.42 59.77 54.61 5.16 62.74 1.46
Norwich City 8 43 63 1.47 64.07 56.33 7.74 64.38 1.50
Derby County 9 43 62 1.44 58.48 49.02 9.46 65.90 1.53

Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday remain the class of the contenders by the advanced stats. The most interesting thing is that almost everyone is within a few points of their projections; except Leeds, Reading and Huddersfield. Leeds and and Huddersfield are gaining .34 PPG more than we would expect; while Reading is gaining .66 PPG more! They are all at least 15 points better than you would expect to see them.

Projecting the Future

Running these results forward makes the playoff race look like this.

Playoff Projections

Team Points Points Per Game Pythagorean PPG xG Pythagorean PPG Games Remaining Projected Points Pythagorean Points xG Pythagorean Points
Team Points Points Per Game Pythagorean PPG xG Pythagorean PPG Games Remaining Projected Points Pythagorean Points xG Pythagorean Points
Huddersfield 78 1.86 1.46 1.56 4 85 84 84
Leeds United 73 1.7 1.65 1.35 3 78 78 77
Reading 79 1.84 1.41 1.18 3 85 83 83
Sheffield Wednesday 75 1.74 1.63 1.75 3 80 80 80
Fulham 73 1.7 1.72 1.66 3 78 78 78
Norwich City 61 1.42 1.46 1.46 3 65 65 65
Preston North End 63 1.47 1.52 1.5 3 67 68 68
Derby County 62 1.44 1.42 1.53 3 66 66 67

It doesn’t matter how you run the projection. If you say Fulham will finish out with their current PPG, if they’ll finish with their Pythagorean PPG, or if they’ll finish with a PPG based on xG; we always project them to finish on 78 points. They’ve improved their projected finish by three points over the last two games. Every projection system we’re using has them finishing 6th. Though two of those require the GD tie breaker.

However, the projections just look at how Fulham teams would finish if they kept up their current pace. They don’t look at the schedules. Remember that Fulham and Wednesday face off in the final match. All of the projections have Fulham either two or three points back of Wednesday going into that game. 78 points also seems to be one of the least likely totals for Fulham to get.

What do Fulham need to do?

Fulham have three games left: Huddersfield Town (A), Brentford (H), and Sheffield Wednesday (A). If Fulham win just their home game, they’d finish on 76 points. Could that be enough? Wednesday could easily lose two in a row as they host Derby and travel to Ipswich. A draw against Fulham in their final game would put them at 76 (of course then Fulham would have 77). Leeds would need to win just one out of their final three to finish on 76. They travel to Burton Albion, host Norwich, and then travel to a Wigan side who might just need a win to avoid relegation on the final day. It wouldn’t shock me to see them end of 76.

Reading continues to astound everyone, and I just don’t see how they don’t make the playoffs now. I can’t see anyway all three of Fulham, Leeds, and Sheffield get to 79 while they pick up 0 points from Burton, Wigan, and Nottingham Forest.

Fulham control their own destiny. Win all three of the remaining matches and they are in. But do they need to get to 82 points to make it? If they win two in a row, a draw at Wednesday might put both teams in the playoffs (and make for a boring game). Dropping any points in the first two matches might make the final day a must win.

How many points do you think Fulham end with? Do they end on 78 like we project? Do they have a good run and end higher? Do they collapse and end with 73? Let us know.

Poll

How many points do Fulham end with?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    73
    (17 votes)
  • 2%
    74
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    75
    (8 votes)
  • 9%
    76
    (35 votes)
  • 16%
    77
    (62 votes)
  • 20%
    78
    (78 votes)
  • 19%
    79
    (75 votes)
  • 17%
    80
    (68 votes)
  • 8%
    82
    (33 votes)
386 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Do Fulham make the top 6?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    Yes
    (309 votes)
  • 23%
    No
    (93 votes)
402 votes total Vote Now