Monday, February 27, 2012

APR's top 25 regular season upsets: #24

This is the second installment of a series of articles listing APR's top 25 regular season upsets since 1970.

See this article for background and an explanation of how the upsets were determined. Click this link to see all the articles in the series.

#24: 1975 Week 10: Bengals 23, Browns 35 (ρ=1.2743)
Bengals' season: finished 11-3, clinched the #4 seed in the AFC, and lost to the Raiders in the Divisional playoffs.
Browns' season: finished 3-11. This was Forrest Gregg's first season as the Browns' head coach.
What happened: the 1975 Bengals' season divides up nicely into two clear groups. When they held their opponent to 24 points or less, they won, and when they didn't, they lost. The 35 points scored by the Browns was the most the Bengals allowed all season, and one of only two games the Browns scored more than 17 points that year.
The Bengals held the Browns to just 15 points through 3 quarters, but they couldn't hold on for one last quarter. The defense gave up a couple of touchdowns to give the Browns a 6-point lead, and then Ken Anderson threw a game-sealing pick-6, presumably pressing his throws trying to engineer a drive for a go-ahead score.

Next week: a relatively recent game, and the first appearance of the most frequently mentioned team on the list.

Monday, February 20, 2012

APR's top 25 regular season upsets since 1970

There's something fascinating about seeing a powerhouse team lose to a team they should easily beat (especially when it's not your favorite team feeling the pain). With that in mind, I present APR's top 25 regular season upsets since 1970.

How Upsets Are Determined

As with the yearly "biggest upsets" feature, I used a flat (unweighted) power ranking based on games played up to (but not including) the last week of each season.

Every game of the season is then picked, based on that power ranking, with the incorrect picks made note of. The resulting list is then culled for the highest matchup values, to produce the biggest upsets.

As usual, I reserve the right to exclude any game I regard as not a "real" upset (because a team is resting its starters, or is indirectly affected by such). Inially, I had excluded one game under this criteria, but on further review, I decided that it probably was a real upset. It comes in at #2 on the list, and I'll have more to say when I get to it.

Note that this is using the current (2010-2011) version of APR, thus the matchup ratio values (ρ) posted for games prior to 2010 will not correspond to the values listed in these posts.

Posting the Games

I'm going to post one game a week, starting with #25, and finishing with #1. This has a couple benefits for me—1) I don't have to write up every game before getting started with posting, and 2) it will give me some weekly content for virtually the whole offseason.

You can find all the posts in this series by clicking on this link.

So, without further ado, here's upset #25:

#25: 1980 Week 6: Jets 14, Falcons 7 (ρ=1.2721)
Jets' season: finished 4-12. This was the only losing season head coach Walt Michaels had with the Jets.
Falcons' season: finished 12-4, clinched the #1 seed in the NFC, but lost to the Cowboys in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
What happened: the Falcons were somewhat inconsistent in 1980, scoring 28+ points in 8 games, but scoring no more than 17 in 5 others. In this game, their offense completely broke down, producing the fewest yards and (probably not coincidentally) the most turnovers of the season. The 1980 Jets only held their opponent under 17 points in this and one other game.
Also of note: most of the games on this list feature losses by the road team. This is the first of just four games where the home team lost.

Next week: the Battle of Ohio takes an unexpected turn.

Friday, February 17, 2012

2012 Navigation and Index

This post is an index of posts I plan to make during the 2012 season, including the various weekly picks, pick results, and power rankings. It's primarily for my own benefit (so I can easily find stuff when I want to refer/link to it). But you're welcome to use it as and when you see fit.

As usual, new entries will be added and existing entries will be linkified as new posts are made.

Important Dates on the NFL Calendar

February 22-28Scouting Combine
March 13 Free Agency starts
March 25-28 Owners' meeting
April Schedule of games released
April 26-28 Draft
July Training camps begin
August 5? Preseason HOF Game
September 6 5 Week 1 opening Thursday Wednesday night game
January 5,6 Wild Card weekend
January 12, 13Divisional weekend
January 20 Championship weekend
February 3 Super Bowl XLVII (Superdome, New Orleans)

Offseason, Preseason, and Historical Data Posts

NFL 2011 Season

Week 1 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results
Week 2 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results
Week 3 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results
Week 4 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 5 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 6 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 7 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 8 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 9 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 10 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 11 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 12 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 13 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 14 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 15 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 16 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Week 17 Picks Power Rankings Pick Results APR vs. ESPN
Wildcard Picks Power Rankings Pick Results
Divisional Picks Power Rankings Pick Results
Championship Picks Power Rankings Pick Results
Super Bowl Picks Power Rankings Pick Results


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

NFL Wrapup: APR Pick Reliability

APR: Home vs. Visitor

Note that APR had the Week 2 Jaguars @ Jets game as a push, and so that game is not included in these totals.

Picked Visitor 6548113
Picked Home 4086126
Total 105134239

APR's record picking the home team is a respectable 86-40 (68.2%). Picking the visiting team, APR is 65-48 (57.5%).

Matchup Ratio Range

Here's a plot of all the matchup ratios (the ρ value in the game picks), separated by week. You can see that most ρ values are under 1.55 or so, with the few outliers coming in the first few weeks. The two high-ratio picks in the second half of the season are for Colts @ Patriots (week 13), and Colts @ Ravens (week 14).

Here's a plot of just the games where APR picked the visiting team. Each green 'x' correspond to the ρ value of a correctly picked game, and each red '+' corresponds to the ρ value of an incorrectly picked game.

There's no nice correspondence between wrong picks and a low ρ value. Of the incorrectly picked visiting teams, 26 of 48 (54.1%) have a ρ value higher than 1.1.

Wrong picks are a bit more frequent early on—more than half (25 of 48) came in weeks 2 to 8.

Future Changes

During the offseason, I plan to run some simulations to see if I can find a more accurate configuration for APR.

Thanks again for reading. If you're interested, I'll have some posts during the off season using the historical data. If not, I plan to be back as usual next September.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

NFL Wrapup: APR Picks by Team

APR's pick results by team, for weeks 2-17 of the regular season. You may remember that the Jets and Jaguars had equal power in the week 1 power rankings, and so APR didn't have a pick for their week 2 matchup. This is recorded as a tie for W-L-T purposes.

14-1 Packers APR never picked the Packers to lose
13-2 Colts, Rams Consistently bad
12-3 Browns, Vikings, Buccaneers
11-4 Falcons, Panthers, Bengals, Texans, Patriots, Saints
10-4-1 Jaguars
10-5 Lions, Dolphins, Steelers 16 teams at or above 10-5
9-6 Ravens, Bears, 49ers, Titans 16 teams at or below 9-6
8-6-1 Jets
8-7 Bills, Cowboys, Broncos, Chiefs, Chargers, Redskins
7-8 Cardinals Not too surprising, given how many of their games came down to the final play.
6-9 Raiders A strong start, but too many injuries, along with no depth at quarterback.
5-10 Giants, Eagles, Seahawks How do you figure a team that got swept by the Redskins, and won the Super Bowl?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

NFL Super Bowl Pick Results

Winning team in bold.

Giants @ Patriots (APR, SRS, Line)
In the game picks for the Super Bowl, I identified two things I thought the Patriots needed to do to win: 1) don't turn the ball over, and 2) establish a 2-score lead. They didn't do either one.
The Patriots only had one turnover, but it was a costly one: it came early in the 4th quarter, on 1st+10, near midfield. If the Patriots had managed to sustain the drive, at the very least it would've taken time off the clock. And, of course, it would've been huge to have scored on that drive—a touchdown would have established that 2-score lead, and perhaps put the game out of reach. Even a field-goal would've helped, meaning that a Giants' touchdown would have (with a 2-point conversion) only meant a 3-point lead.
The Giants, for their part, did a masterful job of steering the game to their strengths—kept it a close, low-scoring defense-dominated affair. Throughout the playoffs, I kept expecting the "bad Giants" to make an appearance—the team that lost 20 turnovers in 8 games, the team that needed a 21-point 4th-quarter come-back to beat the Cardinals. But that never happened, and I am forced to conclude that the Giants are much better than their record when they don't turn the ball over.


APR 0-15-645.5%
SRS 0-15-645.5%

More to come!

There's still a few more season wrap-up posts to come. I'm also planning to have some off-season posts based on analysis of historical data, so you may want to check in once in a while (or just subscribe to the RSS feed).

Sunday, February 5, 2012

NFL Super Bowl Power Rankings

W-LThis Week
1 (-)Saints1.0909
(LW × 1.0092)
2 (↑1)Giants1.0826
(LW × 1.0479)
13-7Won by 4
@ Patriots
3 (↓1)Patriots1.0589
(LW × 0.9852)
15-4Lost by 4
vs Giants
4 (-)49ers1.0392
(LW × 1.0112)
5 (-)Eagles0.9969
(LW × 1.0085)
6 (↑1)Packers0.9833
(LW × 1.0127)
7 (↓1)Ravens0.9785
(LW × 1.0004)
8 (-)Steelers0.9529
(LW × 1.0015)
9 (-)Seahawks0.9487
(LW × 1.0066)
10 (-)Dolphins0.9407
(LW × 1.0044)
11 (-)Falcons0.9181
(LW × 1.0091)
12 (-)Cowboys0.9173
(LW × 1.0142)
13 (-)Cardinals0.9065
(LW × 1.0065)
14 (-)Lions0.8959
(LW × 1.0061)
15 (-)Jets0.8890
(LW × 1.0058)
16 (-)Texans0.8754
(LW × 1.0025)
17 (-)Chargers0.8711
(LW × 1.0023)
18 (-)Titans0.8431
(LW × 1.0034)
19 (↑2)Panthers0.8384
(LW × 1.0051)
20 (-)Bengals0.8378
(LW × 1.0021)
21 (↑1)Bears0.8369
(LW × 1.0041)
22 (↓3)Broncos0.8350
(LW × 0.9983)
23 (-)Chiefs0.8262
(LW × 1.0009)
24 (-)Redskins0.8101
(LW × 1.0086)
25 (-)Raiders0.7985
(LW × 1.0031)
26 (-)Browns0.7961
(LW × 1.0023)
27 (-)Vikings0.7950
(LW × 1.0055)
28 (-)Bills0.7821
(LW × 1.0028)
29 (-)Jaguars0.7813
(LW × 1.0026)
30 (-)Rams0.7635
(LW × 1.0059)
31 (-)Colts0.7550
(LW × 1.0009)
32 (-)Buccaneers0.6894
(LW × 1.0062)


  • The Giants become the first 7-loss team to win the Super Bowl. There's only been three 6-loss teams to win (1988 49ers, 2007 Giants, and the 2010 Packers).

  • Prior to this game, the Patriots had the most Super Bowl appearances (6) without repeating an opponent. There are three teams with 5 appearances and no repeated opponents (Packers, Raiders, and Broncos).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

NFL Super Bowl Pick

Giants @


  • Everybody likes the Patriots. The Giants haven't been favored to win since the Wild Card round.

  • The Giants' season has been a tale of turnovers. They were 2-6 when they turned the ball over 2 or more times, and (including the playoffs) 10-1 when they had no more than 1 turnover.

  • Also of note: in the Divisional and Championship rounds, the Giants faced the two defenses that generated the most turnovers in the league, and had exactly one turnover on offense in those games.

  • The Patriots have turned the ball over 5 times in the playoffs (twice to the Broncos, three times to the Ravens).

  • This doesn't necessarily mean the Patriots are doomed. The Giants have not played well from behind, going 3-7 when they've fallen behind by more than 7 points.

  • But I think to win, the Patriots are going to have to do two things they didn't in playing the Ravens: 1) avoid turnovers, and 2) establish a two-score lead.