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.