The Weekly League: Notes and Ideas for Week Four

Dallas Cowboy linebacker Sean Lee: good at tackling.

This week's edition of The Weekly League features

1. Award-winning previews for this week's Detroit-Dallas, New York Jet-Baltimore, and Indianapolis-Tampa Bay games.

2. A table that compares each team's actual points versus their Expected Points Added.


3. GWPs, PROBs, and other crowd-pleasing acronyms.

Detroit at Dallas | Sunday, October 02 | 1:00pm ET
Four Factors

• As the table towards the bottom of this post indicates, the Cowboy defense has been better so far than the team's 69 points allowed would suggest.
• Consider, for example, how Dallas has allowed the sixth-fewest net yards per pass attempt (5.8) in the league, the fifth-fewest yeards per play (4.8), the sixth-lowest EPA per passing play (-0.01), and the sixth-lowest overall EPA per play (-0.05).
• If you have time, also consider how the defense is ranked seventh overall per defensive GWP.
• Now, consider how the team has allowed those 69 points, the 17th fewest (or 16th most -- however you like it) in the league.
• It's something that, much like a C+C Music Factory song, makes a person go "Hmmm."

New York Jets at Baltimore | Sunday, October 02 | 8:20pm ET
Four Factors

• It will surprise few people to learn that both of these teams are rated well defensively -- third and second overall for the Jets and Ravens, respectively, per defensive GWP.
• Or, I should say, it will surprise few people who follow football. Other people, they probably don't care.
• The surprising thing so far has been the offenses, which rank 11th and fourth overall, respectively, per GWP -- this, after finishing last season 24th and 12th, respectively.
• The difference for New York so far: Dustin Keller and Santonio Holmes. Each has a higher EPA/P this season (0.42 and 0.31) than New York's receiving leader last season, Braylon Edwards (0.30 EPA/P).
• The difference for Baltimore so far: Ray Rice (and the Baltimore offensive line). Rice, 2010: 0.02 EPA/P, 38.7% Run SR, 3.9 receptions per game (R/G), 8.8 yards per reception (Y/R). Rice, so far in 2011: 0.29 EPA/P, 44.3% Run SR, 4.7 R/G, 12.7 Y/R.

Indianapolis at Tampa Bay | Monday, October 03 | 8:30pm ET
Four Factors

• While Tampa Bay enters the game at 2-1, and Indianapolis at 0-3, the numbers suggest that, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the Colts have actually done more of the things that lead to wins.
• One of the numbers that shows that: how Indy has a 0.43 GWP, while Tampa has just a 0.42.
• Another of the numbers that shows that: how Indy has probably allowed about 25 more points than we might expect, while Tampa has prevented about 25 more than we'd expect.
• A note on the Indy quarterbacking situation: Kerry Collins, who suffered a concussion last week, won't be part of it.
• Replacement Curtis Painter's challenge: attempt to surpass Collins' league-second-worst (to Tarvaris Jackson) 4.3 net yards per attempt.

Actual Points and Expected Points Added
The table below represents an attempt to put Expected Points Added (both for and against) on the same scale as points for and against. For each team, I've added their EPA to the product of league average points per team multiplied by a constant (in this case, 0.87). PTS and OPTS are points and opponents points. EPTS and OEPTS are EPA points and opponent EPA points. Luck is the difference between points and EPA points, where red represetns bad luck; green, good luck. The Cowboys, for example, have likely been the greatest victims of randomness so far; the 49ers, the greatest beneficiaries of it.

The Four Factors you see for each game represent each team's performance in four important categories (offensive pass efficiency and run success rate and also opponent pass efficiency and defensive run success rate) relative to league average (where 100 is league average and anything above is good).

Along with the Four Factors, you'll see two other headings: 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. The current GWPs for all teams is available 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. Those numbers are available (along with methodology) can be found here.

The above games have been chosen as they'll be available to the greatest portion of the network-watching audience, per the NFL maps at

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

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2 Responses to “The Weekly League: Notes and Ideas for Week Four”

  1. Chris says:

    I like this idea of quantifying luck. Would love to see something confirming its luck though. Perhaps look at this last in past years and make sure that certain teams don't have a "skill" of bad or good luck.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Last year, I'm pretty sure it was the Chargers lead in bad luck.

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