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Note: The Amazing Race Analysis blog is a spoiler-free zone.  The Analysis below is based on statistics of the team’s age, gender and relationship profile.  Read on for some serious handicapping of The Amazing Race 23 teams

The Amazing Race 23 is starting up on September 29th, and CBS has posted the contestant bios and videos on their website.   So let’s make a go at predicting the finish order of this new group of racers.  This is a very inexact effort, using some small-number stats, and the TAR Producers have done the usual job of creating an evenly competitive group.  At the same time, this season’s cast doesn’t seem to feature any standout personalities, unless you consider beards personality-worthy.

But who needs personality when you have frenetic around-the-world racing? Using the basic demographic information available and the 21 prior seasons of 2-person team racing, let’s see what the stats say.

I examined the TAR 23 teams based on their age, relationship, and gender, and analyzed two things to come up with pre-season rankings:  The average finish of the team composition and the how frequently a team of their composition made it to the eleventh leg of the race, typically the final four.  Making it to leg 11 indicates a deep run into the race and is a good indicator of success.  34% of all teams meet this bar.   So if a demographic makes it to leg 11 more than 34% of the time, they beat the average.

With full understanding that results will be different from the prediction, here is my stats-based view on how the teams will fare.

11.  Tim & Marie – Exes (Average Finish: 8.3, 34% to leg 11)

Funny thing – Exes haven’t done very well on the Amazing Race.  The strange exception to this rule was Adam and Rebecca from Season 6, where Adam basically flamed out, and Rebecca was competent enough to carry the team to a 3rd place finish.  Other “Exes” teams haven’t done so well – Dennis and Erika (Season 5) and John Vito and Jill (Season 11) – both finished in last place.  Note: John Vito and Jill fared much better when they competed while still dating – they finished 5th in Season 3.

10. Travis & Nicole – Married, Ages 35-45 (Average Finish: 7.6, 25% to leg 11)

I’m personally rooting for this team, but the stats don’t look good.  Famous standouts from this demo are Uchenna and Joyce, who famously won in Season 7 and Amani and Marcus, who had a good 3rd place finish in Season 19.  But similarly aged married couples have also finished in 12th, 11th, 10th (twice), 8th, and 6th – all toward the bottom of the pack.   Let’s hope Travis and Nicole are one of those exceptional married couples that get past the early part of the race.

9. Rowan & Shane – Male friends over 45 (Average Finish: 7.0, 0% to Leg 11)

The “Queens of Bingo” aren’t going to win unless something weird happens.  No older male friends have overcome the odds yet, and they have yet to even make it to leg 11.   Granted, this is a small sample size, as only two older male friends have competed before.  Heavy metal rockers James and Abba from Season 21 made a good go at it, finishing 6th before losing a passport, and substitute teachers Gary and Will from the same season limped their way to 8th.    Note: Louie and Michael from Season 16 did make it to leg 11, but they were branded as detective co-workers rather than friends.  Still, I’m not feelin’ it from these guys, who are most likely in the race to provide some comic relief.

8. Hoskote & Naina – Father/Daughter (Average Finish: 6.1, 25% to Leg 11)

Many intergenerational teams have made a go at The Amazing Race.  They usually don’t flame out too early but they don’t last too long, either.  The most successful of whom were Gary and Mallory, who came in 3rd in Season 18 and Ronald and Christina, who came in 2nd in Season 12.  Interestingly, both of these teams were invited back for “all-star” editions of the race, so a good showing by Hoskote & Naina could mean another start in The Amazing Race!

7.  Ally & Ashley – Female Friends under 30 (Average Finish: 6.7, 35% to Leg 11)

The L.A. Kings “Ice Crew Girls” are part of a demographic that has never won the Amazing Race.  Famous all-female team winners Nat and Kat were both over 30, and Kisha and Jen, winners from the “Unfinished Business” season are sisters.  Many female friends teams have done well, but many have not, making a middling finish the most likely scenario.

6.  Nicky & Kim – Female Friends 25-35 (Average Finish 6.4, 35% to Leg 11)

Nicky and Kim are slightly older than Ally and Ashley, so these female friends’ demographic has performed better.  You’ll find great TAR performers Brooke and Claire and Nat and Kat in this group.  And they dominated Season 17.  So perhaps these “Baseball Wives” can break through the all-male bunching at the top of the pre-race rankings.

4. (Tied) Brandon & Adam and Chester & Ephraim – Male Friends 30-40 (Average Finish 7.4, 50% to Leg 11)

These two male-friends teams are about the same age, so they are in the same demographic and have the same odds.   This demographic is extremely hit-or-miss.  Four of the ten teams with this demo were booted in the first episode.  After that, however, teams do fairly well – but not too well – and have finished in 3rd or 4th.   So perhaps we can expect one of these teams to get lost or confused in the first week and make an early exit.  The surviving team will likely make it to the final four.   Go figure.

3. Jason & Amy – Dating 25-35  (Average Finish 6.0, 38% to leg 11)

Heterosexual Dating couples in their late 20s and early 30s are quite common (24 teams) in The Amazing Race, so we have many examples of them finishing both quite well and quite poorly.   What we don’t have an example of, however, is a heterosexual dating couple in this age range who has won it all.   Three have come in 2nd, so if Jason and Amy can break through, this would be a first for TAR!

2. Leo & Jamal – Cousins (Male Siblings Average Finish: 4.9, 43% to leg 11)

This is a first time we’ve had male cousins compete in The Amazing Race.  I’ve chosen to put them in the “brothers” category, which has traditionally done quite well.  Two brothers teams have won it all (Dan and Jordan, Season 16, and Bates and Anthony, just last season), so if these cousins are like brothers, then they might have what it takes to win it all.

1. Tim & Danny – Male Friends 20-30 (Average Finish: 4.3, 64% to leg 11)

I’ll just say this now: Teams should U-Turn oil rig workers Tim and Danny, because, based on their demographics, they are the odds-on favorites to win.  When the TAR producers put young male friends teams into the mix, they have won it all 36% of the time (BJ & Tyler, Chris & Alex, Rob & Brennan, Tyler & James).  So even if they are nice, even if they seem friendly, and even if they don’t seem to be in as good of shape as the other teams, if other teams want to win, they should use all methods within the rules to get this team eliminated, because the stats say they likely won’t eliminate themselves.  My suggestions: U-Turns, giving no help, acting confused around them, and giving them bad directions.

As stated above, these predictions are sure not to come true, but I have two predictions that will:  The TAR producers will dress the teams up in fun costumes, and Phil will walk and talk while explaining a Road Block.

We’re looking forward to Season 23 of TAR!   Keep reading the Amazing Race Analysis blog for more analysis!

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