The Weekly League: Notes and Ideas for Week Thirteen

This week's edition of The Weekly League features:

1. Rapture-inducing previews of the Cleveland-Miami, Dallas-Indianapolis, Pittsburgh-Baltimore, and New York Jet-New England games.

2. A quiz!


3. Another quiz, right after the first one!

The Four Factors you see for each game represent each team's raw performance thus far in four important categories (pass and rush efficiency, pass and rush efficiency against) relative to league average (where 100 is league average and anything above is good).

Along with the Four Factors, you'll see two other numbers: Generic Win Probability (GWP) and Game Probability (PROB). The GWP is the probability a team would beat the league average team at a neutral site. It can be found for all teams here. The PROB is each respective team's chance of winning this particular contest. Your host, Brian Burke, provides PROBs to the New York Times each week, and those numbers (along with methodology) can be found here.

Finally, a glossary of all unfamiliar terms can be found here.

Cleveland at Miami | Sunday, December 05 | 1:00pm ET
Four Factors

• This game features two of the league's most interesting cases: Peyton Hillis and Cameron Wake.
• Wake, who began his professional career in Canada, is either second or tied for first in sacks, depending on whose numbers you use.
• He's also first in QB Hits, with 21.
• As for Hillis, he's third among all running backs in WPA (0.96) and and seventh in EPA/P (0.09).
• This, from a player who was traded for Brady Quinn this past offseason.

Dallas at Indianapolis | Sunday, December 05 | 4:15pm ET
Four Factors

• We're gonna play a slightly tired game.
• It's called "Guess Who These Frigging Quarterbacks Are!"
• QB #1: 6 GP, -0.23 WPA, 30.8 EPA, -0.04 WPA/G, 0.13 EPA/P, 7.1 net YPA.
• QB #2: 6 GP, +0.17 WPA, 24.7 EPA, +0.03 WPA/G, 0.10 EPA/P, 7.0 net YPA.
• Now... guess who these frigging quarterbacks are!

Pittsburgh at Baltimore | Sunday, December 05 | 8:20pm ET
Four Factors

• "Once a major industrial town, with an economic base focused on steel processing... the city suffered a deindustrialization which cost residents tens of thousands of low-skill, high-wage jobs."
• Guess from which city's -- Pittsburgh or Baltimore's -- Wikipedia page that passage comes?
• "In 2009, Forbes ranked [BLANK] the 7th safest city in terms of violent crime."
• How about that one?
• (Note: only one of those questions is easy to answer.)

New York Jets at New England | Monday, December 06 | 8:30pm ET
Four Factors

• As you'll note, the Patriots and Jets have achieved near-identical GWPs, but by wildly different means.
• New York, for example, ranks 20th in offensive GWP, but fifth in defensive.
• New England, meanwhile, ranks second in offensive GWP, but 23rd in defensive.
• One note is: offensive pass efficiency is more consistent from game to game and is more predictive of winning.
• Another note is: Brian Burke said basically all this earlier in the week at America's most newspapery newspaper.

GWP Wins and Luck
Here's the table, through Week Twelve and sans comment, of GWP wins and losses as compared to actual wins and losses.

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14 Responses to “The Weekly League: Notes and Ideas for Week Thirteen”

  1. Borat says:

    Only unemployed steelworkers and wannabe mathematicians come from Baltimore.

    While Pisstburgh is the 'City of Sisterly Love'. This is why so many Stealers fans marry theirs.

    Happy Festivus to all and to all Good Afternoon!

  2. James says:

    I'm gonna go 1 - Manning, 2 - Kitna, 3 - Pittsburgh, and 4 - Pittsburgh.

  3. Carson says:

    James is 50% right -- but I'm not saying which 50%!

    (Not yet, at least.)

  4. Anonymous says:

    The answer is, once unskilled Baltimorians could no longer find menial work that paid well, too many of them entered a life of crime, including murdering their neighbors for pocket-change.

  5. Jonathan says:

    I was gonna go Romo/Kitna/Pitt/Pitt

    Was a 3 for 4?

  6. Brian Burke says:

    Romo, Kitna, BAL, PIT.

  7. Brian Burke says:

    PS Look at Atlanta at +4 games over expected. That's just amazing to me. They are feasting on turnovers, and even though they beat GB last week, it's hard to imagine that kind of luck continuing. They have a substantial negative passing efficiency differential (6.2 net YPA offense and 7.0 net YPA allowed on defense). How a team like that is 9-2 is understandable but highly unlikely.

    But then it got me thinking. If interceptions are 25% skill and 75 luck%, that doesn't necessarily mean that for all teams and all QBs that interceptions are 25/75. It could mean that for 25% of teams interceptions are 100% skill, and for the rest of the teams they are 100% luck. Or the truth is somewhere in between.

    They could be playing for the interception on defense, trading away passing yards for opportunities to pick off the ball. But that just seems like it says 'easier said than done' written all over it.

  8. Ian Simcox says:

    Brian - I did have a quick look at the idea that teams could trade off giving up passing yards to increase their interception chance, but I actually found a very slight negative correlation i.e. teams that intercepted the ball more gave up fewer yards per attempt. That doesn't square with the idea that a team can play a risk/reward game of that type, and was more along the lines of better defenses will intercept the ball more.

    Like you say, it could be the case that Atlanta specifically have such a risk/reward game going on and I haven't found anything to disprove that. But I've also found nothing to prove it either.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn't it make more sense to have the sign reversed on the GLUCK column?

    It just seems like, for instance, a team with 4 wins more than expected should be associated with a +4 rather than a -4.

  10. Jim Glass says:

    It could mean that for 25% of teams interceptions are 100% skill, and for the rest of the teams they are 100% luck.

    It could be that the "natural" intereception rate for a team changes from year to year somehow too. On both O and D. The all-time record for fewest picks compared to the league average, IIRC, was Starr's 3 in 15 games (including the championship game) in 1966. But in the first two games of 1967 he threw 9. Figure that out. I can't, except that random events can occur in bunches.

  11. Ken R. says:


    Today the Colts scored a touchdown with 29 seconds left vs the Cowboys. With the PAT they tied the game virtually guaranteeing overtime. I assume prior to the overtime coin toss each team has a 50/50 chance of winning. But, what would the Colts win probability have been had they gone for 2 with 29 seconds left instead of going for overtime? Is the probability of success on a 2 point conversion under those circumstances less than 50% (or at least less than the chances of winning in overtime)? The Colts went on to lose in overtime.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Two-point conversion success rate is around 45%. Obviously, some teams are above 45% and some are below. It's tough to gauge whether or not the Colts would fall above or below. EP attempts are successful 98.5% of the time, translating to a 48.75% win assuming 50/50 in overtime. If the Colts felt they had better than a 48.75% chance of making the two-point conversion...the math says go for it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    sorry, that should be 49.25%, not 48.75%

  14. JJB says:

    Apparently the unluckiest teams were also unlucky when the schedule came out. This table looks eerily similar to the "strength of schedule" list (SD at the top and NE at the bottom).

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