The Weekly League: Notes and Ideas for Week One

Jay Cutler has fallen and doesn't want to get up.

This week's edition of The Weekly League features

1. Heat-seeking previews for the Atlanta-Chicago, Minnesota-San Diego, and New England-Miami football games.

2. A total and purposeful omission of the Sunday night game between Dallas and the Jets.


3. A photo of Jay Cutler looking groggy -- i.e. basically the only type of photo of Jay Cutler on the internet.

Atlanta at Chicago | Sunday, September 11 | 1:00pm ET
Four Factors

• Against his better judgment, the author remains the sort of person who's pretty sure the Cutler-Martz Experiment will succeed.
• In fact, it sorta did succeed last year -- in that Cutler finished seventh among 31 qualified quarterbacks in yards per attempt, at 7.6 (compared to a league average of 7.0).
• Unfortunately, when considering net yards per attempt -- which also accounts for sacks -- Cutler finished 21st overall, at 6.0 (relative to the league average of 6.2).
• The Bears, of course, finished with a league-worst 10.7% sack rate.
• That Cutler's career sack rate is just 5.9% (i.e. about league average) and the Bears drafted lineman Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin bodes well for the team's passing attack (i.e. the thing that wins games).

Minnesota at San Diego | Sunday, September 11 | 4:15pm ET
Four Factors

• The reader may or may not recall it, so allow me to remind him now, that the Chargers played like a 13-win (i.e. the best) team last year.
• Which, that's why it was shocking how they won only nine games and missed the playoffs.
• The thing they did well: out-efficiency* their opponents by a considerable amount.
• The thing they did poorly: allow weird special teams touchdowns.
• The thing for us to note: only one of those previous two things is a skill.

*Not a word. But also, sorta a word.

New England at Miami | Monday, September 12 | 7:00pm ET
Four Factors

• Last year, the Patriots' offense finished first, by a wide margin, in terms of Expected Points Added (EPA).
• Which is to say, the difference between them and second-place Houston was about the same as the difference between Houston and eighth-place Atlanta.
• In addition to a (typically) excellent passing game, New England also featured an excellent running attack, finishing second in Run EPA (60.8), second in Run EPA per play (0.13), and first in Run WPA (2.28)
• They also finished first in Success Rate on the run, at 48.6% -- i.e. a figure that correlates highly with pass efficiency and, in turn, wins.
• Using primarily BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, turns out.

The Four Factors you see for each game represent each team's raw performance from 2010 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 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. Final GWPs from 2010 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 starting in Week Five. Those numbers from 2010 (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 One”

  1. Brian Burke says:

    Be careful or Brian Billick will start using your made up words, as is half his vocabulary.

    Besides, I believe the correct term is out-efficiencize, as in: "Wow, I can't believe I actually read an internet comment that used the word out-efficiencize."

  2. Travis Reitsma says:

    Oh man, Carson writes here too? Sweet.

    I'm new to the site and I've been a proponent/writer/studier of advanced stats in baseball for years now, but I'm just getting acquainted with the football version.

    I have one really quick question. I think I mostly understand those little charts for each game, but is there a place where they are explained more thoroughly on the site? I can't seem to find it.

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