Thursday, July 16, 2015

So long and thanks for all the fish...

As you might guess from the title of this post, I've decided to call it a blog with FSPI. My interest in continuing FSPI has been waning for a while now, and I have other priorities going on I'd rather spend the time on. So I've decided not to continue on into the 2015 season.

Anyway, for anyone still out there, thanks for reading, hopefully you got some enjoyment and insight from what I wrote.

And, go Pack go!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

NFL Wrapup: Pythagorian Projection vs. Reality

As usual, the "Projected Wins" value is used as a baseline, so a positive difference means the team exceeded their projected win value, a negative difference means they fell short.

Teams are sorted by the magnitude (absolute value) of the difference; teams that came close to their projected wins are near the top, teams farthest away from their projection are at the bottom.

This is a follow-up to a post from last summer. See this post for background details.

TeamActual Proj. Diff. Note
Jaguars 3 3.1 -0.1
Falcons 6 5.9 0.1
Chargers 9 9.2 -0.2
Broncos 12 11.7 0.3
Giants 6 5.6 0.4
Dolphins 8 7.5 0.5
Eagles 10 9.4 0.6
Bengals 10 11.1 -0.6
Seahawks 12 12.8 -0.8
Washington 4 4.8 -0.8
Vikings 7 6.1 0.9
Jets 4 5.4 -1.4
Patriots 12 10.5 1.5Healthy Gronk
Cardinals 11 9.5 1.5Carson Palmer was actually having a pretty good season before he got hurt.
Browns 7 5.5 1.5Brian Hoyer
Colts 11 9.4 1.6
Rams 6 7.6 -1.6Bradford injured
Raiders 3 4.9 -1.9
Chiefs 9 11.1 -2.1
Bears 5 7.3 -2.3Offense collapsed
Bills 9 6.7 2.3Defense much better
Lions 11 8.5 2.5Defense much better
Steelers 11 8.2 2.8 Le'Veon Bell? The Steelers definitely had a rollercoaster season...
Ravens 10 7.1 2.9Flacco playing better
Buccaneers 2 5.3 -3.3No offense
49ers 8 11.5 -3.5Injuries
Saints 7 10.8 -3.8Drew Brees did not have a good year, weak defense didn't help.
Cowboys 12 8.2 3.8Defense better, running game
Panthers 7 11.6 -4.1 Defense struggled, offense wasn't able to take up the slack.
Packers 12 7.8 4.2Rodgers plays whole season
Texans 9 4.2 4.8Last year's team was probably not as bad as their record.
Titans 2 7.5 -5.5Injuries. Also Ken Whisenhunt's resume as a HC is mostly pretty ugly when he doesn't have Kurt Warner as his starting QB.


  • Four teams over the 4.0 threshold, but unlike last year, none over 5.5. Which gives a final scoring of 18 reasonably close, 10 moderately close, 4 wrong, and 0 "yikes".

  • Remember last year when I speculated that the Titans and Jets might have a chance to contend for a playoff spot? Yeah, leave us never speak of that again.

  • On a related note, it's been since 94-95 that the Lions have had back-to-back winning seasons, so it's probably advisable to hold off declaring the Lions have turned the corner. If they can come out and contend again in 2015, it'll be a solid sign that 2014 wasn't another fluke season for them like 2011 (and the first half of 2007).

  • The Texans rebounded pretty nicely from their 2-14 season, especially considering they started three different guys at quarterback. But I think they're gonna have to find a solid quarterback before they're gonna do much better than 9 wins.

  • The Saints have another tough season, but this time they can't blame it on the absence of Sean Payton. Maybe most surprising was 5 home losses for a team that had mostly done very well in the Superdome for many years.

Monday, February 2, 2015

NFL Super Bowl Pick Results

Winning team in bold.

Patriots (SRS, Line) vs. Seahawks (APR)
As you know if you read my game picks post, I was leaning towards the Patriots winning this game. But the Seahawks stayed in this, and came a lot closer to winning than I really expected.
Especially with close games like this that are back and forth in the 4th quarter and come down to the last seconds of the game, I feel like I'm picking nits to talk about why one team won and the other lost, but there are a couple things worth looking at.
As mentioned in the power rankings comments, the Seahawks had a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter. If their defense gets one more stop, (or even just holds once for a field goal), they win. Instead they allowed the Patriots two long drives ending with touchdowns that erased their 10 point lead, and left them in a 4 point hole. Giving up two touchdowns was especially painful, because it meant their final drive was touchdown or bust.
The Seahawks offense established that 10 point lead with 5 minutes to play in the third quarter, and they had the ball three times before that final drive. If they score one more touchdown, they win. Instead, they punted three times, and had their final drive end with a turnover.
In the end, I think one of the big problems for the Seahawks was their offense was just too boom-or-bust, too dependent on the big play. In a situation like they had at the end of this game, where they needed a more methodical approach using high percentage plays, they just didn't seem to know how to do it, and it ended up costing them a win.

That's it for the regularly scheduled posts for the 2014 season. I'm planning to do the usual Pythagorean wrap up post, and then that will likely be it until July. Have a good offseason!


APR 0-1 7-463.6%
SRS 1-0 9-281.8%
Line 1-0 9-281.8%

Sunday, February 1, 2015

NFL Super Bowl Power Rankings

W-LThis Week
1 (-)Seahawks1.0996
(LW × 0.9842)
14-5Lost by 4
vs Patriots
2 (-)Patriots1.0942
(LW × 1.0133)
15-4Won by 4
@ Seahawks
3 (-)Packers1.0207
(LW × 0.9985)
4 (↑1)Bills0.9860
(LW × 1.0013)
5 (↓1)Cowboys0.9837
(LW × 0.9977)
6 (-)Colts0.9690
(LW × 1.0009)
7 (-)Broncos0.9674
(LW × 0.9993)
8 (-)Ravens0.9649
(LW × 1.0008)
9 (-)Steelers0.9592
(LW × 0.9992)
10 (-)Chiefs0.9541
(LW × 0.9968)
11 (-)Eagles0.9343
(LW × 0.9957)
12 (-)Lions0.9156
(LW × 0.9999)
13 (-)Texans0.9042
(LW × 0.9992)
14 (-)Bengals0.8989
(LW × 0.9993)
15 (-)Cardinals0.8931
(LW × 0.9937)
16 (-)Dolphins0.8870
(LW × 1.0018)
17 (-)Rams0.8711
(LW × 0.9945)
18 (↑1)Chargers0.8701
(LW × 0.9993)
19 (↓1)Panthers0.8683
(LW × 0.9957)
20 (-)Vikings0.8590
(LW × 0.9994)
21 (-)Jets0.8501
(LW × 1.0021)
22 (-)Falcons0.8438
(LW × 0.9976)
23 (-)49ers0.8384
(LW × 0.9938)
24 (-)Giants0.8319
(LW × 0.9959)
25 (-)Saints0.8161
(LW × 0.9980)
26 (-)Browns0.8113
(LW × 0.9990)
27 (-)Raiders0.8067
(LW × 0.9967)
28 (-)Bears0.7755
(LW × 0.9998)
29 (-)Jaguars0.7599
(LW × 0.9992)
30 (-)Buccaneers0.7473
(LW × 0.9984)
31 (-)Washington0.7381
(LW × 0.9968)
32 (-)Titans0.6819
(LW × 0.9990)


  • Patriots gain in power, but not quite enough to overtake the Seahawks for first place. I'm sure they'll get over it.

  • This was only the third Super Bowl to be tied at halftime (along with SB XXIII 49ers vs. Bengals and SB XXXIX Eagles vs. Patriots).

  • The 2014 Patriots also join the 2007 Giants and the 2008 Steelers as the only teams to win the Super Bowl after trailing in the 4th quarter.

  • The Seahawks lose in possibly the most painful way possible, blowing a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter, and then throwing a game sealing interception on 2nd and goal at the 1 with seconds left to play.

  • A lot of people have already said this, but especially with a timeout left, handing off to Lynch is a pretty obvious play call there. Or if you're gonna pass, throw a fade off play action or something. Throwing over the middle like that seems like the worst possible decision there.

  • As a football fan, I think this was maybe the most satifying Super Bowl since the Saints beat the Colts in SB XLI (of course I will recuse myself from judging SB XLV).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

NFL Super Bowl Picks

Patriots @


  • So a lot of questions for this game. What happened to the Seahawks in the first 57 or so minutes of the NFC Championship Game? A fluke, or something the Patriots can take advantage of? If the Patriots can make the Seahawks look even half that bad in the Super Bowl, the Seahawks are going to find out what it's like to be on the short end of a lop-sided result in this Super Bowl.

  • How good is the Seahawks defense, really? My feeling is the Seahawks defense isn't quite as good as their reputation. Since they lost to the Cowboys in week 6, the Seahawks played five games against opponents starting their second or third quarterback. Eight of those games were played against teams that finished in the bottom half of the league when ranked by points scored. The Seahawks did allow the fewest points of any team this year, but it's not like they faced a Murderer's Row of offenses, either. I think the Seahawks defense is overrated, and definitely not as good as they were last year.

  • Can the Patriots score on the Seahawks defense? An inability to score on a good defense was the problem for the Patriots in 2007 and 2011. But they have a lot of impressive wins this seasons, including blow out victories over the Bengals, Broncos, Colts (twice), Lions, and Chargers. I don't think the Patriots need to score a lot of points to win this game, as the Seahawks are just 1-4 when their opponent scores 24+ points.

  • The last two times the Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl, they lost because they couldn't score on the Giants' defense. If they lose again Sunday, I think the reason will have to be because of the Seahawks' defense.

  • Like last year, I think this game will be decided when the Seahawks' defense is facing their opponent's offense. But this time around, I think the Seahawks' offense is weak enough that if their offense does have a slow start, the Patriots won't have to worry about falling into a deep hole by halftime like the Broncos did last year.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

NFL Wrapup: APR's Biggest Upsets

Dishonorable Mention: games that just missed the top 10

  • Week 13: the Cardinals go to Atlanta, perhaps expecting an easy win over the 4-7 Falcons, only to discover that the Falcons are still pretty good on offense, and had enough of a defense to keep the Drew Stanton-led Cardinals in check.

  • Week 1: the Patriots go to Miami, and get shut out in the second half, thanks to a Dolphins' defense that (at times) looked pretty good.

  • Week 2: thanks in part to a terrible field goal kicker, the Lions' sputtering offense can only put 7 points on the board, and their defense, which was mostly pretty good, allowed the Panthers three long scoring drives.

  • Week 13: the Giants go to Jacksonville, and let a 21-3 halftime lead slip away. This looks like more of an upset thanks to the Giants finishing the season 3-1, and the Jaguars having (yet another) a really bad season.

  • Week 8: the Packers travel to New Orleans, but their defense can't stop the run, and their offense can't keep up with the Saints after Aaron Rodgers tweaks his hamstring. Probably the best game for the Saints all season.

APR's Top 10 Upsets of the 2014 Season

  1. Week 10: Steelers 13, Jets 20 (ρ=1.1766)
    The Steelers had a pretty bad defense this year, they were 2-5 (including the Wildcard playoff loss) when they didn't score at least 27 points. That meant when their offense had a bad game (as it did in this game, with 4 turnovers, a missed field goal, and a turnover on downs) even a pretty bad team could steal a win.
  1. Week 17: Jets 37, Dolphins 24 (ρ=1.1785)
    Both of these teams were out of the playoffs and thus playing out the final game of the season. I suppose the difference was, the Jets had been out of the playoff race much longer, and so were much more in the mood to inflict some pain on their divisional rival.

    It should also be noted that while the Dolphins' defense at times looked good in 2014, the Dolphins were also 2-7 when they didn't score at least 27 points, which (at best) doesn't say much for that defense's consistency.
  1. Week 16: Bills 24, Raiders 26 (ρ=1.1796)
    The Bills needed this game to stay alive for the playoffs. But their defense and running game stayed home, and as I remarked in the week 16 pick results, Kyle Orton wasn't the kind of quarterback that could carry a team in a situation like that, even against the likes of the Raiders.
  1. Week 7: Seahawks 26, Rams 28 (ρ=1.2046)
    Another case where the Seahawks offense spent a big chunk of a game doing a whole lot of not much. They managed to get going late in the game, but the Rams managed one more late touchdown and (unlike the Packers) got a key late assist from their special teams to close out the win.
  1. Week 16: Eagles 24, Washington 27 (ρ=1.2052)
    The Eagles didn't have a good defense this year, as their record of 1-6 when their offense didn't score at least 30 points attests. Washington only scored more than 27 points in two other games (and one of them was in their other game against the Eagles).
  1. Week 12: Chiefs 20, Raiders 24 (ρ=1.2072)
    Looking back on their season, I wonder if the Chiefs suffered an injury to some key offensive player(s) sometime around this game. A big part of the Chiefs problem this season was they mostly lost when they didn't score at least 21 points. For their last 6 games, starting with this one, the Chiefs only made it to 21 points in one game, finishing the season 2-4.
  1. Week 11: Broncos 7, Rams 22 (ρ=1.2230)
    Peyton Manning's injury supposedly happened during the Broncos' week 16 game against the Chargers. But looking back I wonder if there wasn't an earlier injury. In the first 9 games of the season, Manning averaged 3.2 touchdowns a game. From this game to the end of the regular season, Manning averaged 1.4 touchdowns a game, less than half his earlier average. Certainly the Rams' defense deserves a lot of credit for their performance in this game, but I really wonder if Manning was hurt a lot earlier than has been reported.
  1. Week 4: Buccaneers 27, Steelers 24 (ρ=1.2306)
    As mentioned above, the Steelers had a pretty bad defense (here allowing the Buccaneers their second highest point total of the season). The Steelers' offense didn't have as bad a game as against the Jets in week 10, but they were only able to score once in the second half, which opened the door for the Bucs to chip away at the lead, and ultimately take the lead with just a few seconds left on the game clock.
  1. Week 8: Washington 20, Cowboys 17 (OT) (ρ=1.2349)
    Part of this was Tony Romo getting hurt in the 3rd quarter. But even to that point, the Cowboys offense struggled, scoring 7 points on a Washington defense that gave up more points than all but 3 other teams in the league. Brandon Weeden (somewhat miraculously) managed to put 10 points on the board to force overtime, but it just wasn't enough.
  1. Week 1: Titans 26, Chiefs 10 (ρ=1.3249)
    The Titans had what was easily their best game of the year, with Jake Locker throwing a couple touchdowns and no interceptions, and the Titans posting 162 rushing yards. What makes this the biggest upset of the year was the fact that the Titans were easily one of the worst teams in the league in their remaining 15 games, with their only other win coming against the also-very-bad Jaguars.

As a measure of how big an upset the Titans @ Chiefs game was, it would qualify for a spot in APR's top 25 regular season upsets, coming in between #5 (2004 Patriots @ Dolphins) and #6 (2011 Packers @ Chiefs).

As usual, I reserve the right to remove any game I feel was affected by teams resting their starters. Thanks to most teams having something to play for in week 17, no games were disqualified from this list.

Biggest Upsets According to the Line

Winning teams in bold.

Week 9Rams 13, 49ers 1049ers -10
Week 8Washington 20, Cowboys 17 (OT)Cowboys -9½
Week 6Cowboys 30, Seahawks 23Seahawks -8½
Week 2Bears 28, 49ers 2049ers -7
Week 2Saints 24, Browns 26Saints -7
Week 4Buccaneers 27, Steelers 24Steelers -7
Week 5Bills 17, Lions 14Lions -7

Monday, January 19, 2015

NFL Championship Pick Results

Winning team in bold.

Packers @ Seahawks (SRS, APR, Line)
It seemed like almost everyhing that went wrong for the Packers this season was on display in this game. They settled for field goals after driving into the red zone. They had ugly break downs on special teams. And (for the Seahawks' last three drives) the defense didn't look like they could stop anything.
Just a really frustrating experience, to be gifted a game where the Seahawks, for 57 minutes of game time, played like they didn't have any business with the top seed in the NFC. And the frustrating thing is, everything the Seahawks needed to go their way happened. If the Packers got a touchdown on either one of their early drives, they win. If the Packers recover the onside kick, they win. If the Packers tip away the two point conversion, they win. If the Packers get a touchdown on their last drive, they win.
But the Seahawks got all those breaks to go their way, and to their credit, they managed to put together three very good drives, all ending with touchdowns, right when they desperately needed needed them, and it won them the game.
Colts @ Patriots (APR, SRS, Line)
This game, on the other hand, went pretty much as expected. Much like in their regular season meeting, the Patriots offense didn't have much trouble scoring repeatedly on the Colts defense.
Somehow Andrew Luck and the Colts managed to keep it to a relatively close 10 point differential at halftime, but an ineffective passing game, and too few attempts at running the ball meant that the Patriots had a pretty easy time scoring three unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter, which put the game well out of reach of the Colts.


Well, at least a clean sweep for picks this week.

APR 2-0 7-370%
SRS 2-0 8-280%
Line 2-0 8-280%