Before the season began, I hosted a contest where I asked you to submit 38 questions. Each question asked you about 38 pairs of numbers, with the contestant trying to guess which number will be bigger. I also calculated the percentage that each “side” of the bet received, based on 82 entries. Let’s look at how you guys did, in descending order based on votes, beginning with the question where everyone was the most confident. Spoiler: that question didn’t go so well for the wisdom of crowds.
1: Number of wins by the team with the second-most wins (0.878) vs. Number of wins by Washington and Oakland combined (0.122)
Washington surprisingly won 9 games, while Oakland finished 7-9. That means the teams combined for 16 wins, which would have been good enough to beat any one team. In retrospect, this one looks pretty obvious — the second-most wins was 13, by Arizona — but a whopping 87.8% of you picked “the field minus one” over Washington/Oakland. You like that?
2t: Number of wins by the Ravens (0.841) vs. Number of wins by the Lions (0.159)
OK, you guys are not off to a hot start. Most of my questions were intended to draw something close to 50/50 action; I knew this question was not going to do that, but I threw it in anyway as an homage to Doug Drinen, who used it as the prototype example in the first edition of this contest at PFR.
Well, Detroit finished 7-9 ,while Baltimore went 5-11. Score another one for the underdogs.
2t: Yardage of the longest passing TD thrown by Derek Carr. (0.841) vs. Number of distinct players to have a 100-(or more)-yard rushing game (0.159)
Last year, Derek Carr’s second longest touchdown pass of the year was just 47 yards, but this year, he threw three 50+ yarders. His top was a 68-yarder to Amari Cooper, done in week 2, which made this one a sure bet all season long. You guys (well, 84.1% of you guys) got this one right! This season, there were 44 unique 100-yard rushers.
4t: Number of wins by the Packers (0.817) vs. Number of interceptions thrown by Aaron Rodgers (0.183)
This was a pretty interesting one. Rodgers had a bad year, but not when it came to interceptions. He finished with 8 interceptions, giving the narrow edge to the favorite here (Green Bay won 10 games).
4t: Number of J.J. Watt sacks (0.817) vs. Number of total TDs scored by Le’Veon Bell (0.183)
Well, this one wasn’t a fair fight. But is there such a thing as a fair fight when it comes to Watt? The Texans star finished the year with 17.5 sacks. Bell and backup DeAngelo Williams only combined for 14 touchdowns. You guys nailed this one, although it would have been more interesting to track had Bell stayed healthy.
This one turned out to be pretty interesting, too. I set this one up because I thought all three of the “lesser” backs had a chance to have good years, while I also thought Peterson might disappoint. As it turned out, Peterson had a great year, leading the league with 1,485 rushing yards, but Murray was a disaster (702 yards). Meanwhile, Ivory rushed for 1,070 yards for the Jets, Gurley was great with 1,106 yards in 13 games (12 starts), and Gore rushed for 967 yards. As a result, the field — which only 21% of you picked — ended up winning this one, courtesy of 3,143 rushing yards.
Heh — interceptions are tricky to predict, In fact, Revis had just 1, 2, and 2 in the three previous years. As it turns out, Revis had five this season, but of course it didn’t matter: Robert Griffin III did not take a single snap this year. Score another for the favorite.
8: Maximum number of TDs thrown by Drew Brees in a single game (0.756) vs. Number of playoff (non-Super Bowl) games won by the visiting team (0.244)
Brees usually has a few big games: from 2009 to 2014, he had 19 games with 4, 5, or 6 touchdown passes, so I thought this would be a fun test. Well, in 2015, he didn’t have a single game with 4, 5, or 6 touchdown passes.
But he did throw seven touchdowns against the Giants. This one is a lock unless the road team goes 7-3 in the playoffs. Nice job, guys, as 76% of you picked this one. [Update: Road teams went 4-6 in the postseason.]
9: Number of Passing TDs thrown by the league’s leader in passing TDs (0.744) vs. Maximum number of points scored in a game by the Ravens (0.256)
Another win for the favorites, as 74% of you went with the field. The big question was how high the Ravens would run this number. As it turns out, Baltimore maxed out with 33 points in a game, a mark eclipsed by a few quarterbacks. This one was close — Tom Brady led with 36, while four others had 35 — but the Ravens were the disappointing part of this bet.
10t: Number of Passing TDs thrown by Marcus Mariota. (0.732) vs. Margin of the Titans biggest win. (0.268)
In week 1, Mariota threw four touchdowns, while the Titans won by 28 points. You might have thought, “Game on!” but this ended up being Tennessee in a landslide. This was a bad beat for a lot of you: Mariota was probably better than people thought, and Tennessee was worse than people projected, as the Titans finished with the 1st pick in the draft. Yet a 42-14 opening day victory, combined with injuries to Mariota (he finished with 19 passing touchdowns), secured the upset for the underdog.
McCoy was the favorite here, but I set this one up because I thought Watkins was underrated and McCoy overrated. Well, entering week 17, LeSean McCoy had 895 rushing yards, while Watkins had 911 receiving yards. McCoy was inactive for week 17, wrapping this one up for Watkins. Otherwise, let’s pretend Watkins’ week 17 never happened.
12t: Number of wins by the Giants (0.72) vs. Number of wins by the Jets (0.28)
Another one for the underdog.
12t: Number of rushing TDs by the rookie with the most rushing TDs (0.72) vs. Number of postseason games where the winner scores under 32 points (0.28)
Gurley ended the year with 10 rushing touchdowns. I think this is pretty safe to mark down as a win for the favorite, given that there are only 11 playoff games. [Update: In 8 of 11 playoff games, the winner scored under 32 points, so this stayed with Gurley.]
Charles was injured, so he finished with just three games with 100 yards from scrimmage. Walsh missed five field goals and four extra points prior to Sunday Night Football. This one obviously goes to the underdog, but it would have been very interesting if Charles stayed healthy. Would he have gotten to 9?
15: Minimum number of passing TDs by a player from this group: Tony Romo; Peyton Manning; Andrew Luck; Ben Roethlisberger; Philip Rivers; Matt Ryan (0.695) vs. Maximum number of passing TDs by a player from this group: Ryan Fitzpatrick; Geno Smith; Josh McCown; Johnny Manziel; Brian Hoyer; and Ryan Mallett (0.305)
Well, Tony Romo finished with 5 touchdown passes, while Ryan Fitzpatrick finished with 30 touchdown throws. This was a sneaky one, with a good lesson: take the field if you can.
16t: Number of wins by the Cowboys (0.683) vs. Number of wins by the Dolphins (0.317)
Another one where a Romo injury swung things. Dallas finished 4-12, while Miami went 6-10. In retrospect, I’m actually surprised only 68% of you selected Dallas, but then again, there was something resembling a hype machine surrounding the Dolphins four months ago. Another win for the underdog.
16t: Number of receiving yards by the Jaguars leader in receiving yards (0.683) vs. Number of Blake Bortles rushing yards times three (0.317)
Oooh, I thought this was going to be a fun one! Allen Robinson had a breakout season, putting up an 80-1400-14 stat line. Bortles rushed for 419 yards last year, but finished with “only” 310 rushing yards in 2015. Score this one for the wisdom of crowds.
16t: NFC Championship Game victories by the Packers and Seahawks (0.683) vs. NFC Championship Game victories by the rest of the NFC (0.317)
Well, the underdog certainly looks better now than it did four months ago, but this one is still an open question! [Update: With the Panthers winning the NFC, this one goes to the underdog.]
16t: Number of playoff games won by the Patriots (0.683) vs. Number of playoff games won by NFC South teams; plus 0.5 (0.317)
The NFC South is only sending one team to the playoffs, but right now, this one looks pretty good for the underdog, especially given the 0.5-win line. That means New England will need to win at least one more game than Carolina for this bet to pay off. [Update: Carolina won 2 playoff games, while New England won one, so this one went to the underdog.]
What do you guys think? Check back later in the week for Part II.