November 2012

Previewing the Conference Championship Games

November 30, 2012 College

There are six conference championship games this weekend. Here’s a short preview breaking down this weekend’s action. All times Eastern. MAC Championship (Detroit, MI) Friday, 7PM: Kent State vs. Northern Illinois (-6.0) Weeknight MACtion doesn’t get better than this, and this is one of just two conference championship games featuring two 11-1 teams. The SRS […]

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A four team playoff in college football would be great, except for the teams left out

November 29, 2012 College

I’ve got a real post ready for tomorrow, so Thursday is Rant Day this week. There’s been a lot of talk this week about how this would be a great year to implement the four-team playoff that’s coming to college football for the 2014 season. I suspect part of that reason is because people are […]

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Week 12 Power Rankings

November 29, 2012 Power Rankings

The contenders have emerged in both conferences. The numbers say that the Broncos, Patriots, 49ers, and Texans are legit, while there are still question marks surrounding Atlanta, Baltimore, and Chicago despite their records. What to make of the Giants? No one ever knows. Are we headed towards a rematch of Super Bowl XXIV? That year […]

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Interview with Aaron Schatz

November 28, 2012 Strategy

Last week, I sat down with Brian Burke and discussed the work he’s done with NFL teams. Aaron Schatz, founder of Football Outsiders, an indispensable resource for fans of advanced football statistics, has been consulting with NFL teams for years. Schatz is also the lead writer, editor, and statistician on the book series Football Outsiders […]

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NYT Fifth Down: Post-week 12

November 27, 2012 NYT

My article for the New York Times this week takes a look at one interesting statistic for each of the eight division winners.   Atlanta Falcons – Record in Close Games In 2010, Atlanta raced to a 10-2 record on the strength of an improbable 7-1 record in games decided by 7 or fewer points. […]

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Game Scripts, Part II: Analyzing team seasons

November 27, 2012 Statistics

Yesterday, I rolled out Game Scripts, a way to measure the flow of every game since 1940. The sum of each team’s Game Script in each game can be used to give us an average Game Script score on the season. You might think that this number would be a good proxy for how dominant […]

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Checkdowns: Lane Kiffin’s 4th down decision

November 26, 2012 Checkdowns

Lane Kiffin is not a very good coach, and that’s putting it mildly. He’s one of the most hated men in college football and he’s the face of a USC team that has had the worst season of any preseason favorite since at least 1964. With a 7-5 record, no one is defending Lane Kiffin. […]

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Introducing Game Scripts – Part I

November 26, 2012 Statistics

From 1991 to 1995, Emmitt Smith and the Cowboys were one of the dominant teams in the NFL. As you probably heard, the Cowboys were pretty successful whenever Smith had a lot of carries. Over that five-year span, the Cowboys went 49-7 whenever Smith had 20+ carries in a regular season game, and an additional […]

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Week 13 College Football SRS Ratings

November 25, 2012 Coaches

We all know the big story of the weekend: Wake up the Echoes, Notre Dame is in the National Championship Game. While it may be trendy to rip the Fighting Irish, they earned their golden ticket to Miami. Notre Dame’s opponent will be the champion of the Southeastern Conference, decided next weekend when Alabama and […]

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Checkdowns: FCS ratings and the FCS playoffs

November 25, 2012 Checkdowns

In connection with calculating my college football SRS ratings at the FBS level, I also calculate them at the FCS level but rarely publish them. But with the FCS playoffs underway, I figured, why not? Here are the FCS ratings as of November 25th, 2012: Tweet

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Checkdowns: A different starting quarterback in three straight games

November 24, 2012 Checkdowns

Ben Roethlisberger started the first nine games of the season, but things are getting ugly quickly in Pittsburgh. After suffering a right shoulder injury and bruising his ribs against the Chiefs, Byron Leftwich started last weekend against the Ravens. Leftwich injured his ribs against Baltimore, leaving Pittsburgh to now turn to Charlie Batch against the […]

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Four SEC Games Give the ACC One Last Chance to Change the Narrative

November 23, 2012 College

Florida-Florida State. Georgia-Georgia Tech. South Carolina-Clemson. And, as a technical matter, Vanderbilt-Wake Forest. I’m not exactly breaking any news when I tell you this, but the ACC is not having a very good year. In the abstract, it might seem like any other elite conference. It has two 10-1 teams and each team has at […]

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Checkdowns: Best Thanksgiving Performances

November 22, 2012 Checkdowns

Stump your family with some Football Perspective trivia today. The tables below show the leaders in various categories in all games played on Thanksgiving since 1960. Most passing yards Most passing touchdowns Tweet

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Week 11 Power Rankings – Happy Thanksgiving from Football Perspective

November 22, 2012 Power Rankings

The majority of power rankings out there have the Broncos, Texans, Patriots, Falcons, Packers, and 49ers in their top six. Each conference appears to have three elite teams, and one can justifiably rank them in just about any order. Brian Burke has Denver first, San Francisco second, and Houston third (although his algorithm leaves the […]

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Checkdowns: Antonio Cromartie’s improved play since the Darrelle Revis injury

November 21, 2012 Checkdowns

An interesting story today on Antonio Cromartie, courtesy of Bob Glauber of Newsday. Cromartie says that after Revis was injured, the All-Pro cornerback told Cromartie that he needed to start taking his job more seriously and that it was time for him to reach his potential. Cromartie stated: “Hearing it from your peers, you take […]

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NYT Fifth Down: Post-week 11

November 21, 2012 NYT

This week at the Fifth Down, I look at the remarkable turnaround in Tampa Bay.  I argue that the success Tampa Bay is having this year dates back to the end of last year, when the organization decided to rebuild the offense with a clear image in mind. Ten months ago, Tampa Bay Buccaneers General […]

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Are advanced statistical analysts the next Pete Gogolak – Part I

November 20, 2012 Strategy

You know the name Pete Gogolak, don’t you? The former Buffalo Bill placekicker is a famous figure in football history for two reasons. First, he played a key role in the merger between the AFL and NFL in the 1960s.1 He’s also remembered for what he did on the field: Gogolak is widely credited with […]

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Mike Mularkey went for it on 4th and 10 in overtime

November 19, 2012 Coaches

With 2:36 remaining in overtime, the Jacksonville Jaguars were at the Houston 47-yard line. It was 4th-and-10, following two short incomplete passes that were sandwiched around a run for no gain. Surprisingly, Mike Mularkey kept his offense on the field. The only similar example I can find of such an aggressive move in this situation […]

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Checkdowns: Vick’s Masterpiece vs. RGIII’s Payback Game

November 19, 2012 Checkdowns

On November 15, 2010, Michael Vick humiliated the Washington Redskins before a national television audience on Monday Night Football. The big news right before kickoff was that the ‘Skins had signed former Eagle QB Donovan McNabb to a five-year, $78 million contract extension, an ironic note that wouldn’t be lost on observers as McNabb’s replacement, […]

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Creating a Draft Value Chart, Part II

November 19, 2012 Draft

Last week, I took another stab at creating a draft value chart. The biggest modification I made was looking at just the value provided by a player in his first five years to a team. As a result, the graph flattened, compressing the difference between the value provided by the top and bottom picks. I’m […]

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Week 12 College Football SRS Ratings

November 18, 2012 College

Your assumptions are no longer valid. Kansas State entered the weekend as the most balanced team in college football. Through 11 weeks, Baylor ranked 120th in yards allowed and 118th in points allowed. But last night in Waco, the Wildcats were unable to do much of anything on offense. Collin Klein had never thrown more […]

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Checkdowns: QB Playoff Wins by College

November 17, 2012 Uncategorized

Watching Matt Barkley today against UCLA, I tweeted that Mark Sanchez is responsible for 4 of the 9 playoff wins by USC quarterbacks. Since twitter is not a very good medium for showing large datasets, here’s a quick look at which colleges have produced the quarterbacks with the most playoff victories. Two pieces of fine […]

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Checkdowns: College Team Efficiency Ratings

November 17, 2012 College

Note: There are many things theoretical issues with this post. That said, if I had to write down and explain all the drawbacks of the data I’m about to present, I wouldn’t have the time to make quick posts like this. So…. I thought it would be cool to take a slightly (emphasis on slightly) […]

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Checkdowns: Are teams more risk-averse than ever in 2012?

November 17, 2012 Checkdowns

Scott Kacsmar posted an interesting article yesterday, noting that teams are punting or kicking on 4th down in 2012 more frequently than at any other time in the last 20 years. So far in 2012, just 1.27% of all plays are 4th down attempts. Scott also noted that teams have been less aggressive on 4th […]

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Should Notre Dame be ranked in the Top 2?

November 16, 2012 College

Before I get to the question of the day, below is a quick roundup of some good college football articles I read this week: Bill Connelly, of Football Outsiders and SB Nation, argues that Texas A&M’s victory proves head coach Kevin Sumlin was the right man for the job and that the spread works — […]

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Chip Kelly is as likely to be the next great coach as anyone else

November 15, 2012 Coaches

I’m a big fan of Mike Tanier, an excellent writer formerly of Football Outsiders and now with Sports on Earth. Yesterday, Tanier threw cold water on the idea that Chip Kelly is going to be the next great NFL coach. Tanier labeled him him this generation’s Steve Spurrier, and argued that it is lazy and […]

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Week 10 Power Rankings

November 15, 2012 Power Rankings

Jason Lisk put the Texans on top of his power rankings. Both Aaron Schatz and Brian Burke loves the Broncos. The Patriots offense looks historically great. I know what you’re thinking: wasn’t it only five weeks ago that I read somewhere that the NFC was by far the superior conference in the NFL? That still […]

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Checkdowns: The Most Surprising NFL Results of the Season (Through 10 Weeks)

November 14, 2012 Checkdowns

When Miami was blown out by Tennessee this weekend, I was shocked. So I cooked up a quick little way to measure how shocked I should have been. First, here are the SRS standings for the NFL through 10 weeks: Now the SRS weighs each game equally. This means that we can come up with […]

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NYT Fifth Down: Post-week 10

November 14, 2012 NYT

This week at the New York Times I looked at several interesting statistical developments in both the 2012 season and in week 10. Even in today’s pass-happy N.F.L., it pays to have one of the best running backs. In one of the bigger surprises of the season, the best of the best is Minnesota’s Adrian […]

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Creating a NFL draft value chart, Part I

November 13, 2012 Draft

Nearly five years ago, I came out with my own draft value chart to replace the “Jimmy Johnson” draft chart commonly cited by draftniks. What I did then was assign the career approximate value grade to each slot for each player drafted over a 30-year period, smoothed the data, and came up with a chart […]

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