Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why try your luck on Luck?

The Colts are going to take Andrew Luck first overall in the draft. No one will blame them if he doesn’t work out because every team without a star quarterback would draft him, given the chance. However, is this the right choice? Here are the career numbers for all first pick QBs since 1990 (from Pro Football Reference):

I listed each quarterback’s draft year, games played, winning percentage, completion percentage, TDs and INTs as a percentage Continue reading

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NFL week 17: contenders and pretenders

Week 16 was huge. Fifteen teams entered the week with work to do to make the playoffs (7 more had already clinched). Ten of those 15 teams played another team within the same group. That meant 5 guaranteed wins for these teams; only the Titans got a win outside of the group.

Before I break down the carnage, let’s look at the real contenders. Here are the True Wins standings for the six teams that I think have a chance (you can learn about True Wins in my previous post, which are my quick and dirty luck-free measure of team quality): Continue reading

Don’t hire your former star player as your GM

Pistons GM Joe Dumars just resigned point guard/shooting guard Rodney Stuckey for $25 million over 3 years. Stuckey has been up and down for the Pistons since they drafted him in 2007, but basically he’s an Iverson-style ball-hog point guard that the Pistons would rather have at shooting guard, since they don’t really trust him. I’m pretty neutral on this signing, probably keeps the Pistons just outside the playoffs, just like last year.

I am NOT neutral about the following Dumars moves: Continue reading

Just a little bit of luck

A couple days ago, I showed that True Wins is an able replacement for Pythagorean wins as a simple, “luck-free” measure of team quality in the NFL. True Wins gives full credit for blowout wins and half credit for close wins and losses (defining close games as games within 7 points). Heading into week 15 tonight, I thought it would be fun to see how teams stack up this season. First, let’s look at teams almost certain to make the playoffs (4 of the 7 have already clinched):

True Wins agrees that the Packers are the clear best team, and there’s not much difference among the six teams at 10-3. All these teams have gotten a little lucky in close games (i.e., their wins are higher than their True Wins), but only the Packers and Saints True Win differences are especially high. These teams are all legitimate playoff contenders.

Next, consider teams still in the hunt (I’ll be generous and include 6-7 teams plus the Eagles): Continue reading

Pythagorean Part 2 — True Wins Rises

Last week, I wrote about the use of the Pythagorean expectation for measuring NFL team quality. I didn’t have much nice to say. I think that the Pythagorean has a catchy name, but it’s more complicated than it needs to be. The Pythagorean uses points for and against to capture the intuition that close games are decided by luck, not skill. I proposed True Wins as a way to frame this more transparently:

True Wins =  Blowout wins + Close wins/2 + Close losses/2 + Ties/2

True Wins gives half credit for all close games, whether won or lost, since teams should win half their close games in the long run if they are truly decided by luck. For this post, Continue reading

Sunday night madness and just a little Tebow

I didn’t get to watch a lot of football yesterday, but I did watch the end of the Cowboys-Giants showdown, where the winner would take control of the division. Secretly, I don’t think either of these teams are very good, and selfishly, I was rooting for the Cowboys, which would help my Lions slightly in the wild card race.

The end of the game was really exciting, featuring big plays both directions (even though the Cowboys’ big plays were primarily due to horrible pass coverage by the Giants). Apart from the excitement, though, there were a few hidden plays Continue reading

What goes on here

I’m an economics PhD student with a passion for sports. This blog is about football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, and rugby. It’s also about meaningful stats and common sense. Share your opinions in the comments or drop me a line if you want to write a post!