Win Probability Graphs: 2007 Playoffs

+0.19 for Tyree’s catch.

+0.41 for the TD pass to Burress.

Sadly, no one will remember the 2-yd gain by Jacobs on 4th and 1 to keep the drive alive, but that play had a Win Probability Added (WPA) of +.21. If Tyree doesn’t make the catch, the drive is still alive--it was ‘only’ 3rd down. If Jacobs is stuffed—that’s all she wrote.

Of course, there’s no good way to quantify the style points for Tyree’s miraculous grab or Manning’s escape from the sack.

One of my major goals this off-season is to create win probability graphs for every NFL game since 2000. I'm starting with the 2007 playoffs, one of the most improbable championship runs ever. The New York Giants defied the odds in four consecutive games, never once favored to win. Yet somehow they slayed the dragon, the sport's most formidable offense in its history.

I'll be rolling out more than 2000 games over the next several days. Each graph has complete play-by-play descriptions. Just roll your cursor over the graph.

Also included are some new statistics. Comeback Factor (CBF) is simply the odds against the team that ultimately wins at their darkest moment. Excitement Index (EI) [boy, does that need a better name--I'll take suggestions] is how exciting the game was. Think of it as an EKG or Richter Scale for a game. It's the sum of all the movement in the graph. Blowouts are flat-lines and have relatively no movement, while close, high scoring games are the most exciting. Close, but low scoring games will be right behind.

In the play-by-play descriptions you might notice a stat labeled "LI." That's the Leverage Index, a concept borrowed from the sabermetric community and Tom Tango in particular. LI measures how crucial a particular game situation is toward the outcome. This should be an interesting new way to look at each play, and I'll explain it fully in a forthcoming article.

For now, keep the year menu on 2007. The playoff teams that year were the Colts, Pats, Giants, Jags, Titans, Steelers, Packers, Seahawks, Redskins, Cowboys, Bucs, and Chargers.

There are still a few hiccups with the graphs, usually due to errors in the NFL gamebooks I use to create them. Comments and suggestions are more than welcome.

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8 Responses to “Win Probability Graphs: 2007 Playoffs”

  1. Unknown says:

    (ER) Entertainment Rating

  2. Jon says:

    Thanks, Brian. I;ve been digging these WPA charts ever since studes started using them at Hardball Times for baseball. I wonder if they would look better if they were on a log scale instead of linear scale. It seems like the right side might overstate how much excitement in a close game is at the end.

  3. Brian Burke says:

    Jon-Thanks for the suggestion. The log scale would be scientifically useful, but could be too abstract for many people. Besides, the same play at the end of a close game, compared to an early play or play at the end of a blowout, will have a larger WP swing and also be more exciting.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Can you do a WPA stat like in baseball. Find out how many probablility points a player lost and how many they gained on a play. For example, A receiver makes a 15 catch, he adds 3% to +WPA, he gets +0.03 +WPA points, the QB throws an incomplete pass to him and the WP losses by 2%, he gets a -0.02 -WPA points. Overall het gets a 0.01 WPA.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The above post is about individual stats using WPA.

  6. Brian Burke says:

    Sure. But the complex team aspect of football makes it less meaningful than for baseball. It's as if every player on the field gets an "assist" for every play. Who gets credit for the WPA of a sack, the guy who drew the double-team block or the guy who was left unblocked? But it can be done, with some caveats.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I'm just talking about QB's, RB's, TE's, and WR's. Those are the only players you have to do it for. You could also do it for team offenses and defenses.

  8. Dave says:

    Hey I just found this site. I was wondering how you found that the Burress TD catch had a +0.41 WPA. It looks to me that the Giants' win probabiliy was 0.82 after the third down conversion to Steve Smith, and after the TD to Burress (on the very next play) it went to 0.92, making it a +0.10 WPA play. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the graph?

    Thanks for the site, this is great stuff.

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