Best Games of 2012 and Best Playoff Games

With the barn-burner in Denver still echoing in our minds, not to mention the SEA-ATL double comeback, I thought it would interesting to see where it stacks up against other games this year. Measuring how 'good' a game isn't science. Everyone has their own interpretation of how entertaining a game is.

I like to rely on a couple simple measures of how entertaining a game is, Excitement Index (EI) and Comeback Factor (CBF). From the Glossary:

Excitement Index (EI) – The measure of how exciting a game is. EI measures the total movement of the Win Probability (WP) line during a game. The more that WP fluctuates, the more dramatic, uncertain, and exciting a game is.

Comeback Factor (CBF) – The measure of how big a comeback is in a game. CBF is defined as the inverse of the winning team’s lowest Win Probability (WP) during a game. For example, if a winning team’s lowest point in a game is 0.10 WP, its CBF would be 10, which is 1 / 0.10. The higher the CBF, the bigger the comeback.
The 'Best Games' tool on the site is one of the hidden treasures of ANS (in my opinion). For instance, it tells us that the BAL-DEN game ranks as the 5th most exciting game of the entire season.  It's also the most exciting game for the both the Broncos and the Ravens in the database (since 2000). And with a CBF of 50, the game ranks behind just 7 games this season with an even more improbable outcome.

But how does the game compare to playoff games? I don't have a filter for playoffs in the tool itself, but here is a list of the highest EI playoff games, including Super Bowls. Week 18 corresponds to the wildcard round, 19 to divisional games, and so on.

GraphYearVisitorV ScoreHomeH ScoreEICBFWeek
558292012BLT38DEN358.55019
555012011NYG20SF177.84.620
548132009MIN28NO317.57.720
291882006SEA24CHI277.54.219
263102002PIT31TEN347.34.419
554942011NO32SF367.116.719
554982011BLT20NE237.11020
272372004NYJ17PIT206.811.119
295252007NYG23GB206.83.320
266432003SEA27GB336.74.618

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10 Responses to “Best Games of 2012 and Best Playoff Games”

  1. Scott says:

    On the comeback factor:

    There were 7 games this year that saw a 100 CF, which would imply that the winning team had a <1% of pulling off the victory. This seemed high given that this should happen ~1% of the time (not 7 out of 264 games), so I took a look back since 2000 - there have been 60 games with a CF of 100 over 3,468 games (1.73%).

    As for conclusions here, I'm not quite sure what to make of this, but it seems that the odds for a comeback are maybe slightly higher than WP is giving credit for? what is the sampling error here?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I always enjoy looking at these. Have you ever considered adding so other stat types Like the absolute value in the change of the change of the WPA. Or how close the game is with the average distance from 50%

  3. Brian Burke says:

    Scott-Yes. I'm aware of those kinds of things. Frankly, a lot of situations are novel, meaning there is no underlying data for a reliable empirical estimation. There are regions of situations where I have to make some interpolations and extrapolations. Many of those regions are .01 WP situations, so I'm actually relieved with 1.73%.

    Another factor is that as the game gets more and more offense friendly, teams will be able to come back from deep deficits quicker.

  4. Rog says:

    The #1 game of the year (55655) gets a lot of EI from the overtime, where the model gives a 99% chance of winning to each team as they're about to kick a FG on their first possession of overtime. This doesn't seem right - is it an artifact of the model not understanding the new overtime rules and how they affect WP?

  5. Fred says:

    So what is the most exciting Superbowl? Just off the top of my head, I'd say NYG vs. NE in 2007 or maybe AZ vs. PIT.

  6. Brian Burke says:

    Here they are. The table won't look right, but you'll hopefully be able to read it.

    year vis home EI CBF
    2003 CAR NE 6.5 2.2
    2007 NYG NE 6.5 33.3
    2008 PIT ARZ 5.4 7.1
    2011 NYG NE 4.9 5.0
    2004 NE PHI 4.5 3.7
    2010 PIT GB 4.4 2.2
    2009 NO IND 4.3 5.9
    2001 SL NE 4 3.1
    2005 SEA PIT 4 2.9
    2006 IND CHI 3.7 5.3
    2002 OAK TB 2.7 2.8
    2000 BLT NYG 2.7 2.1

  7. Brian Burke says:

    Rog. That's possible. I'm still debugging the new OT format algorithms.

  8. Unknown says:

    Would it be possible to make a chart of team E! for the season, or across multiple seasons? Adding the total E! for any given team for all of their games throughout the season to compare how exciting teams are compared to each other?

  9. Brian Burke says:

    Sure. I think I did that last season. I'll see if I can search it up.

  10. fred says:

    Thanks for the Superbowl list, the Patriots have been involved in a lot of exciting Superbowls!

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