Weekly Roundup 1/29/09

The guys at Cold Hard Football Facts think they've found evidence vindicating the 'frequent running causes winning' fallacy. But I don't think they did at all. Yes, teams that run more often in the Super Bowl (and all other games) also tend to be the teams that win the game. But we all know that it's the lead that allows all the rushing. Take the 2000 Ravens-Giants Super Bowl. The Ravens ran 33 times compared to 15 for the Giants. But 40% of Baltimore's runs were in the 4th quarter after they already had a 24-7 lead. Oddly, the article address the correlation-causation fallacy, but then just says "it's up for debate."

Football Outsiders looks at all the silly prop bets available for the Super Bowl. My favorite is the one about Matt Millen picking the winner in the pre-game show. I have to think that there is so much negativity surrounding that guy that there is an arbitrage opportunity there. (By the way, I noticed FO has been banned from Google. They must have been caught gaming the search algorithms.)

Speaking of silly betting, here is PFR's Super Bowl squares post. And if you're playing SB squares, you'll probably want to keep an eye on the win probability site. The probability of a current drive ending in a TD or FG is available in real-time.

PFR also responds to an article from the Community site asking whether all 10-point leads are equal. Basically, the question is does a 30-20 lead have the same win probability as a 13-3 lead? The answer is no, they're not exactly the same. The 13-3 lead is slightly safer. But it really depends on home field advantage and relative team strength more than whether it's a 30-20 or 13-3 type lead. Pretty interesting, and this kind of stuff has direct applications for the win probability engine.

I wonder who the Derek Jeters of football are?

The Patriots are already 6 to 1 favorites to win the Super Bowl next year.

The Numbers Guy looks at why QBs almost always get named the Super Bowl MVP. A bunch of football stat-heads, including myself, toss in their 2 cents. The author wanted to know if there was a statistical way to isolate the contribution of a single player in a game. My idea was actually "n-player cooperative stability equilibria," but thankfully it was translated into "a market-based approach."

An article from Slate.com about the overtime rules likes the "field position auction" idea. Phil Birnbaum agrees. I think ideas like those are clever and effective solutions, but the NFL is unlikely to make changes that veer too far from tradition.

The problem with overtime isn't really the coin flip, it's the incredible range and accuracy of modern kickers. The entire sport has been slowly warped into fieldgoal-ball. Overtime is just where the problem becomes most obvious. I'd suggest solving the issue by 1) narrowing the goal posts, and 2) moving the kickoff line back to the 40 for overtime.

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7 Responses to “Weekly Roundup 1/29/09”

  1. Borat says:


    Regradign your coment of mosy valuble playre in Wall streat Journeys. Wont you pleese agree to Borat that if Pissberg cornerback tackles teh #11 Lary Fitzjerry fifteen times, that the cornerback is mose valuble playre of this game?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is there really any surprise that CHFF would do a terrible job in figuring out what really wins games? There "cold hard facts" typically have about as much meaning and facts in them as a research paper a 6th grader would do. They are lucky that the general public hasn't really caught onto what real statistical analysis means or they would be out of business. They do have a few good writers at least so they can present their bad weak stats in a way that sounds good. But they are really pushing the statistical analysis in football back several years with most articles they write.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I've noticed too that you can't google football outsiders and get a hit to their site. What gives? Can someone explain why this is?

  4. Anonymous says:

    How about not allowing FGs in OT.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you that Cold Hard Football Facts has the cause and effect backwards. In last year's Super Bowl, the Giants led in rushing attempts by 26 to 16. But in the 12 play game winning drive, the Giants ran 1 running play and 11 passing plays (1 passing play ended up as a QB scramble). I think the debate should be how much does the game situation influence the play calling, which then influences the box score stats.

  6. Brian Burke says:

    There are some shady techniques for tricking the Google search algorithms into increasing a site's page rank. If Google catches it, they'll de-list the site.

  7. Anonymous says:

    RE: FO and Google.

    I too noticed this earlier in the season. Google "footballoutsiders.com" and it will top the search.

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