Game Probabilities - Week 12

Weekly game probabilities are available now at the nytimes.com Fifth Down. This week I also discuss the major shortcoming of a purely quantitative approach to game predictions.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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3 Responses to “Game Probabilities - Week 12”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Every analyst the World Wide Leader can trot out this week has been picking the Pats on Monday Night. Even the Team Efficiency ranking has them just below the Saints. So what's were the factors that make this game a 2:1 favor for the Saints?

  2. Brian Burke says:

    Good question. The NO offense has a big edge, and the defenses are about equal. Here are their basic efficiency stats:

    Offense:
    NO 8.0 YPA vs NE 7.2 YPA
    NO 4.8 YPC vs NE 4.0 YPC

    Defense:
    NO 5.5 YPA vs NE 5.6 YPA
    NO 4.6 YPC vs NE 4.4 YPC

    The only real edge for NE is that their off int rate is much better.

    Throw in home field for NO, and you've got a 2:1 game. My intuitive sense is that it's a closer match-up, but I'm wrong more often than my model. Should be an entertaining game by two very good teams.

  3. zlionsfan says:

    To (partially) answer your question about Thanksgiving matchups, you have to keep in mind that every year, for one of the two regular teams (Detroit and Dallas), the set of opponents from which the NFL can choose is exactly two (because the CBS game needs to be an AFC road team).

    So this year, it could have been Oakland or San Diego. Yeah, the Chargers seem like they'd be a better match, but it's not like they've been consistent performers this season. Last year, substituting Jacksonville for Tennessee probably wouldn't have mattered either. (Neither game was close.)

    And yes, for quite some time, it probably wouldn't matter who the Lions were playing ... in both 2004 (Houston) and 2006 (Buffalo), the Lions won the other game they played on CBS, but it doesn't mean they'd have won the game at a different point in the season, and I suppose some of it is network-driven as well. Who would the network rather have seen, Peyton in a scrimmage or Houston-Detroit?

    sigh. Some day the Lions will be competitive again.

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