Tag Archives: Patriots

What does Chip Kelly have to do with spotting the ball?

I’m pretty excited that Chip Kelly is coming to the NFL. If you’ve watched the Oregon Ducks in recent years or the Patriots hurry up offense, you’re probably excited too. It’s fun to see teams try something different, and I like seeing fast offenses break defenses’ will using such a simple concept. Sometimes, the defense isn’t even lined up when the ball is snapped. Teams spend tons of energy trying to outsmart defenses, but a fast offense can make it easy.

If the speed game catches on, it has other possible implications. For example, the NFL could shorten the play clock to encourage game pace. Most people would enjoy more football and less standing around. Whether the play clock changes or not, teams will want smaller, faster players on offense and defense, reversing the rapid growth in player BMI over the last thirty years. A size reduction might help with concussions — though force equals mass times acceleration, and acceleration might go up — and it could also help with heart, heat, and other obesity-related illnesses/deaths that lineman face.

So what does this have to do with first downs? Bear with me. The NFL has a credibility problem with it’s measurement technology. I chuckle every time the chain gang trundles out and the ball is measured one link short. Football certainly is a game of inches: in the case of spotting the ball Continue reading

Sour grapes

True Wins did okay over the weekend — predicting the 49ers and Patriots victories, but whiffing on the Ravens and Falcons. Picking the team with more True Wins so far has six correct and two wrong, while relying on actual wins to pick has just four right, two wrong, and makes no prediction on two games (same records for Pats-Texans and 49ers-Packers).

The True Wins king — Denver — is out! Over the last ten years, the top team in True Wins has won four Super Bowls, and the second ranked team has won two more. It’s up to the Patriots (#2) to carry on the tradition, even though the 13.5 True Win Broncos had the second highest total in the last ten years (behind another famous losing team that you may remember). That couldn’t save them from one very cold Manning flinching first in a stalemate and one very cold Champ Bailey getting toasted over and over again (not to mention one very cold referee blowing a couple video reviews and throwing a ton of flags on the Broncos). More on the playoffs later in the week, but for now, I want to go back to some old predictions and talk about this year’s playoff spectators.

The Sour Grapes Club

Last year, I broke the outsiders-looking-in into four groups (follow the link — the predictions are worth a read-through in their entirety):

  • The Michael Vick Division (pretty good teams that had some bad luck): Eagles, Bears, Chargers, Cowboys
  • The Cam Newton Division (mediocre teams with something to build on): Panthers, Titans, Seahawks, Dolphins, Vikings
  • The Rex Ryan Division (overconfident teams that need to reassess their approach): Jets, Cardinals, Bills, Raiders, Chiefs
  • The Sam Bradford Division (teams that need to start over completely): Redskins, Jaguars, Browns, Colts, Rams, Buccaneers

The first thing that has to change are the names. Cam Newton moves up a notch and replaces Vick, who unfortunately goes all the way around the horn to replace Bradford in the blow-it-up division. Rex Ryan, one of the most overconfident men in the world, is saved by Tony Romo and his buddy Troy Aikman — I can’t listen to Aikman defend Romo anymore. I’m sticking with my man Stafford and handing the “something to build on” division to him, even if my Lions regressed this year.

Here are the standings this year:

2012 non playoff standings

From the first group (I expected good things): Continue reading

Super Bowl gambling!

Yes, it’s the one time of year when gambling is tacitly accepted in the United States. By comparison, my buddy Tony reminded me today that Europeans can openly bet on everything from Charlie Sheen’s next girlfriend to the Facebook IPO. I’m not going to go through all the Super Bowl prop bets — that’s been done to death. Instead, I want to look at the line movements for the Super Bowl, which shed some light on how line setting works (hint: it’s not always about getting half the betting on each side of the line).

The Patriots opened as 3.5 point favorites in many books, but it quickly became clear that the Giants would get many more bets at that number. The standard argument is that Vegas doesn’t care if their line is “accurate” (in terms of the actual game outcome); they just want Continue reading

Predicting the Super Bowl winner

With the Super Bowl ten days away, I thought it would be fun to look at some statistics for the winners in the last 25 Super Bowls (excluding the strike year in 1987). For each winner and loser, I list their regular season True Wins, regular season actual wins, regular season wins the previous season, and the Super Bowl line for the winner (lines from Vegas Insider). In the previous season column — “Last Wins” — I also list each team’s playoff performance from the year before in parentheses: a number indicates the round that they exited, “n” indicates that they didn’t make the playoffs, and “!” indicates that they won the Super Bowl. Here are the data:

Continue reading

Rematch!

There were no True Wins handed out yesterday. The Ravens, Patriots, Giants, and 49ers treated us to two extremely close football games. Close games generally come down to luck to determine the winner; indeed, I thought both games would be close but was fortunate to pick both winners last week. Regular season True Wins and actual wins both predicted the Patriots victory but failed on the Giants, who are underrated by wins measures due to their ridiculous strength of schedule. For the first time since 2007 (and only the fourth time since 2002), actual wins is going to beat out True Wins in predicting playoff games. Both measures suggest the Patriots will win the Super Bowl, since they have far more wins and True Wins than the Giants, and actual wins are a half game up going into the final (5.5 games correct to 5 games correct):

The two championship games had some common themes, actually. The “offensive” teams (Patriots, Giants), playing against good defenses, did not have their usual panache. However, they both stacked the box Continue reading