At the moment, it really is all to play for in the Sky Bet Championship after 15 games, or around a third of the season gone.
14 points separates the middle of the table centred around Barnsley and Preston on 20 points and Newcastle who head the table on 34 points. Stacking up behind them in the last automatic promotion place is Brighton, with only ten points separating the Seagulls from Bristol City in the last promotion play-off place and on 24 points
At the foot of the table are South Yorkshire side Rotherham on a mere seven points with the Millers being two wins and many goals adrift of Blackburn in 23rd. Cardiff still sit safe in 21st on 15 points. At that end of the table, five teams in Wolves, Burton Albion, Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Cardiff sit only three points away from the last relegation place currently held by Wigan on 14 points.
The thing is, how will it all pan out come next May, who’ll be where when the season ends?
Here at The72, we are going to be following the Sky Bet Championship through the rest of the season and projecting, at certain stages of the season, what the final table will look like. To accomplish this, we will be using 10-game ‘long form’ points per game (pp/g) total to project forward to an end of season total and a final league table.
This will then be plotted onto a table (below) where the following places in the table have been finalised using a 17-season average points needed to finish 2nd (87 points), 6th (74 points), 12th (61 points) and 22nd (41 points).
Projected end of 2016/17 table for the Sky Bet Championship – after game day 15
Obviously dips and rises in form will be seen over the next eight games and the midpoint of the 46 game season, some teams will improve whilst others drop away. For example, it is inconceivable that Newcastle can maintain their current form of 2.5 points per game from now until the end of the season to end with a record 112 point haul and 10 point margin of victory in claiming promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Norwich are a team whose current form has shown a slide down the protected final table, from outright winners to third place with Brighton showing the sort of form to move in the opposite direction and into a projected second place finish on 102 points. Of course, like the caveat given above, they too will have to be wary of the fluctuations in form.
Equally, it is inconceivable that Rotherham will continue to throw away points like used Christmas wrapping paper and gain only another nine points over the rest of this season. They will hit better form and gain both a better points per game average and overall points total.
Things to think about – after game day 15:
- Seven sides in Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United, Reading, Bristol City, Huddersfield and Birmingham City are projected to match the 17-season average play-off cut-off points total of 74 points. Should things pan out as they are, taking into consideration ‘form’, Reading will end up in the final play-off place on 81 points.
- Rotherham need to earn 1.29 points per game over the rest of the season to just scrape past the 47 point average for the last relegation place. Their current form total is 0.3 points per game – this should worry Kenny Jackett as that is equivalent to the current per-game total (1.27) that QPR hold and they sit in 14th place and 12 points to the better.
- Villa need to earn 1.80 points per game over the rest of the season to fight their way into the reckoning for the promotion play-offs. Their current six game form total is 1.30 points per game, although an improvement in form has seen them move from 0.83 points per game in just three games
- Blackburn and QPR, who are projected this early to finish just above the relegation zone on 50 points, need to hit a run of form that gives them a return of 1.96 points per game (Blackburn) and 1.77 points per game (QPR) to reach the final play-off place. Their current form totals are 0.87 points per game (Blackburn) and 1.27 points per game (QPR).
- Mid-table Barnsley are the division’s 16th rated form team over their last ten games with a return of only 1.10 points per game, this after a more than good start to the campaign – in essence they are a side on a bad run of form.The Tykes are projected to finish on 54 points at the end of the season. In order to qualify for the last play-off place, Barnsley need to gain 1.74 points per game over their remaining 31 games to reach the 74 point average that has seen teams over the last 17 Championship/First Division seasons end in sixth position. At the moment, their 1.10 points per game form average would only see them finish a projected 17th.