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There's been a long drought in Cleveland

There’s been a long drought in Cleveland

October 27, 1991. The 4-3 Browns were hosting the 3-4 Steelers, and Vegas oddsmakers set the Browns as 1.5-point favorites. Bernie Kosar would complete 21 of 29 passes for 179 yards and a score, while Kevin Mack would lead the team with 54 yards rushing on 19 carries. It was not a great offensive day for the Browns, but the team managed to pick off Neil O’Donnell two times, and held Merrill Hoge to just 48 yards on 12 carries (the factor back chipped in with 56 receiving yards, too). Clay Matthews — the middle one — had one sack, Louis Lipps led all players with 69 receiving yards, and the only thing that would trick you into thinking that this game didn’t take place generations ago was that Matt Stover started the scoring with a 34-yard field goal. [click to continue…]

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In the third quarter on Monday night, I texted my Patriots fan buddy Matt, “Is it possible that we suck? Maybe the run is finally over.” Bill Barnwell mused on this, and Aaron Schatz also wrote about it. It was hard not to think that, given the way the Patriots were manhandled by a mediocre team playing without several key players. It looked every bit as bad as the 41-14 score and maybe worse.

I remember the last time I wondered if the Pats were done. In a 34-14 loss to the Browns in 2010, the Patriots looked pretty impotent. In that game, as in the Chiefs one, the Pats had just under 300 yards of offense. Peyton Hillis ran over the Patriots. Of course, that wasn’t the end. Maybe this time is different, though. If anything the Chiefs game was even worse, so it’s possible this time really is the end.1

Will the Patriots offense be good later this year? To provide a little insight into this, I went back and looked at performance trends for quarterbacks who have had long careers. The first table looks at quarterbacks since 1969 who have the biggest single-season drops in adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A) from the previous five year trend. I look just at quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts in a season and I weight by the number of attempts when calculating the average ANY/A over the previous five years.

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  1. And those Pats were 6-1 at the time of the loss to the Browns. []
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I am getting some well-deserved crap from people about just how bad my predictions have been so far. The Arizona Cardinals have already somehow outperformed the number of wins I gave them. The Jacksonville Jaguars, my pick to win the AFC South at 8-8, at one point in the game against the Colts had been outscored 112-13 over a stretch of about nine quarters. And my pick to win the NFC North at 14-2 could be 0-3 if Marty Mornhinweg let his head coach call the timeouts.1

But I did win my first Stone-Cold Mega-Lock of the Week with my very comfortable tease of the Bengals and Falcons. So things are looking up and I’m taking that as license to check out some historical betting data for anything that might seem appealing after three weeks.

Last year’s Carolina Panthers are the inspiration for the analysis here. After three weeks, they were a 1-2 team with a big positive point differential. The Panthers last year lost 12-7 to Seattle and 24-23 to Buffalo before annihilating the Giants 38-0. Despite VOA liking the Panthers even after just three games, the betting market came around later in at least one way. The Panthers were at 3/1 to make the playoffs last year after three weeks, even though Football Outsiders had their playoff odds at over 50% at that time.

Is it possible that teams like the 2013 Panthers have historically been undervalued? It seems likely that Carolina was a little undervalued last year after three weeks. By looking at point spread data, we can see if teams that have likely been better than their records have been good bets in the early part of the season. Specifically, I’m going to look at whether betting on early-season underachievers (teams with deceptively poor records) or against overachievers has been profitable now and in the past.

Data and Methods

Feel free to skip this part, but here’s the background for those interested. I have put together Pro Football Reference’s point spread data for all games from 1979 to 2012. This sample is good enough for the tests of long-term and recent betting strategies that I want to do.

I’m going to look at betting outcomes in games 4-8 for teams that are either losing teams (winning percentage below 0.5) with strong Pythagorean records or winning teams with weak Pythagorean records. I will keep things simple and define Pythagorean wins here as:

Pythagorean Wins = (Previous Points Scored ^2.53)/(Previous Points Scored^2.53 + Previous Points Allowed^2.53)

In a continuing effort to avoid unnecessary complications, I’m just going to split the data up over time, looking separately at results before and after 2000.

Betting On and Against Pythagorean Outliers

Below is how you would have done over time if you bet on or against two kinds of teams:

  • Overachievers: Teams with winning records with bad point differentials for their records
  • Underachievers: Teams with losing records with good point differentials for their records

An overachiever is more specifically a team with a winning record that has a Pythagorean winning percentage at least 25 percentage points worse than their actual winning percentage. An underachiever has a Pythagorean winning percentage at least 25 percentage points better than actual.

Years
Overachieving Teams
Underachieving Teams
1979-1999174-142-11 (55.1%)141-146-5 (50.9%)
2000-2012109-99-4 (52.4%)108-100-8 (52.0%)

The results show that, before 2000, you would have won most of the time betting on overachieving teams, teams that were not as good as their records would suggest. I was surprised by that and it even made me wonder if I made a coding mistake. I certainly expected that any tendency away from an even split would have been in favor of betting against teams with good records and relatively poor point differentials. Note that the even split occurred in the past for the underachievers, the teams with good point differentials and poor records.

More recently, the data come pretty close to an even split for betting both on the overachievers and the underachievers. Betting on the overachievers and the underachievers has been successful about 52% of the time since 1999.

So the overall message is that there is little value now or in the past in identifying Pythagorean outliers and either riding the teams with deceptively poor records or fading the teams with misleadingly good ones. In fact, the only pattern from the past suggested it was a good idea to ride the teams with misleadingly good records. I tried to check this out a bit to just see if it was just betting on teams with good records that was profitable, but betting on all teams with winning percentages over .750 has gone almost exactly dead even over time. It would be great to hear any thoughts you might have in the comments for this pattern. I feel like I’m missing something.

Overall, the message here is the one that we get most of the time if we try to find patterns that might lead to a consistently profitable and simple betting strategy. It just ain’t there. That doesn’t make this a bad post, though: as Chase once noted, an answer of “not useful” is often just as meaningful as any other answers.

The Stone-Cold (I Think There May Be a 60% Chance This Bet Will Win) Mega-Lock of the Week

So I am now 33% on my Stone-Cold Mega Locks of the Week. If I get the next two, I will be at 60%. If I get the next two after that, I’ll be at 71%. I kind of think I should be able to claim extra points already, Chris Berman-style, for my tease last week, since the Falcons and Bengals won by a combined 89-21 score that wasn’t that close. But I will instead put my faith in the always reliable larger sample size that will bear out these predictions living up to their title.2

Two-team teaser: Pittsburgh down to -1.5 and Indianapolis down to -1.5

This week, I like another two-team teaser of two home teams, this time down to 1.5 points. I particularly like the Steelers down to 1.5 points. I do not understand how they could be the same offense for quarters 3-8 of this season as they were for the other high-efficiency ones. Still, I like the Steelers (#10 in DVOA) at home against the Buccaneers (#32).

I’m a little less sure about the other side of the tease, where I have Indianapolis (#21) over Tennessee (#25). In fact, I mainly just wanted to get the Pittsburgh end of the tease. I may be getting that queasy-knees feeling come Sunday. It’s hard to feel that way about Andrew Luck, but I didn’t imagine I’d ever be going into the water tethered to a Ryan Grigson-led team.

Season record: 1-2

  1. We are talking about the Jets here so they probably would have blown that game, anyway. []
  2. Note that no mega-lock promises were made on the season predictions. []
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Betting Bad: Thinking About Uncertainty in Prediction

Barack Obama was not the only winner in the 2012 presidential election. Nate Silver, now founder and editor in chief of Five Thirty Eight, and other stats-y election forecasters basked in the praise that came when the returns matched their predictions.

But part of the praise was overstated. At the very end, Silver’s models essentially called Florida a toss-up, with the probability of an Obama win going just a few tenths of a percentage point above 50%. But because his model gave Obama the slightest of edges in Florida, his forecast in most of the media essentially became a predicted Obama win there. In addition to accurately forecasting the national popular vote, Silver then received credit for predicting all fifty states correctly.

I am all in favor of stats winning, but the flip side of this is the problem. If Obama had not won Florida, Silver’s prediction―which, like that of other forecasters such as Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium, was excellent―would have been no less good.1 And if stats folks bask too much in the glow when everything comes up on the side where the probabilities leaned, what happens the next time when people see a 25% event happening and say that it invalidates the model?2

Lots of people have made this point before — heck, Silver wrote about this in his launch post at the new 538 — but it is really useful to think carefully about the uncertainty in our predictions. Neil has done that with his graphs depicting the distribution of team win totals at 538, and Chase did so in this post last Saturday. Football Outsiders does this in its Almanac every year, with probabilities on different ranges of win totals. [click to continue…]

  1. This is a column about football, but you might want to check out some of the stuff through that link on the differences between Silver and Wang on the upcoming midterm elections. They both know way more than I do, but for the small amount that it is worth, I lean more towards Wang on this one. []
  2. Of course, maybe Football Outsiders has already run into that with the 2007 Super Bowl prediction. Perhaps sports people are ahead of politics on this stuff. []
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Prop Joe’s Favorite NFL Prop Bets

I think I’m one of eight billion people who love “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad.” Those are the two best TV shows I’ve seen and it isn’t particularly close.1 “The Wire” had an amazing volume of unforgettably vivid characters. Below is my list of memorable “Wire” characters. To be a real test of unforgettableness, it’s got to be off the top of my head, so I’m sure I’m going to forget somebody, but here goes and I’ll include the first thought that jumps to mind:

Omar (“man’s gotta have a code”), Bunk (“f***”), McNulty (“f***”), DeAngelo (library), Stringer (mastermind), Avon (winner), Brother Mouzone (bow tie), Cedric (good posture), Garcetti (that’s actually the mayor of LA, I mean the Baltimore mayor), Clay Davis (“sheeeeeet”), Bunny (“New Hamsterdam”), Keisha (car chase scene), Lester (wood carving), Bodie (corner), Prop Joe (large), …

Ah, Prop Joe. Prop Joe was a very large and very reasonable drug kingpin. His name apparently stemmed from saying “I’ve got a proposition for you,” so we could certainly see him getting into prop bets. So, in honor of Prop Joe, I’ll cover some intriguing season prop bets.2 Most of these bets are only available online, which continues to be a legal gray area. Like Prop Joe, I would never directly touch anything slightly questionable, so I will be referring to bets made by my good friend Rawls.3 We’ll start with his favorite prop bet for 2014 and go from there in descending order.

Rawls’s Prop Bet #1: $76 On Any Team To Win at Least 14 Games (Odds: 3/1)

At first glance this bet seems to have a lot of merit. Since the 1987 strike, at least one team won 14 games 15 out of 26 times (57.7%). In the last 15 years, it’s even better, hitting 10 out of 15 times (66.7%). The bet only needs to win 25% of the time to break even, so this looks fantastic.

But Chase brought up a point that Rawls missed: schedule strength. The years without a 14-game winner in the last 15 years include 2012 and 2013. Rawls dismissed that as a blip, but it comes in part from two of the best teams in football playing in the same division. Moreover, the last run of years without a 14-game winner (1993-1997) also happened during a time of NFC dominance, at least until ‘97. The Cowboys played the Packers and Niners every year during that span, for example. This season, the best teams in football may have it even tougher. The Niners and Seahawks have to play each other twice, and each has one of the four hardest schedules in football this year. The Broncos get the NFC West, the Saints have the sixth-hardest schedule, and the Packers have above-average schedule strength. Only the Patriots have an easy schedule amongst the main threats to win 14 games. [click to continue…]

  1. “Seinfeld” is all alone in third with a pretty big gap after that, too. []
  2. The actor who played Prop Joe, Robert F. Chew, sadly passed away in January 2013. []
  3. Definitely not this Rawls who is the enemy of all that is good. []
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Updated: Vegas Futures Wins Totals

Some background links:

Today I want to look at the latest odds from Vegas on NFL futures, this time courtesy of Bovada.  While we often focus on the number of wins a team is projected to have, the payouts associated with each bet are also key sources of information. Consider the Bears and the Panthers, two teams Bovada has pegged at 8.5 wins. You might think Chicago projects as a better team than Carolina this year; as it turns out, so does Bovada.

If you want to bet on Chicago winning more than 8.5 games this year, Bovada is requiring you bet $155 just to win $100 in the event the Bears win nine games. Of course, if you’re brave enough to suggest that the Bears will win eight or fewer games, Bovada would pay you $125 for your $100 bet. While Chicago is at -155(o)/+125(u), the Panthers are at +145(o), -175(u). So if you think the Panthers are overvalued at 8.5 wins, well, you need to bet $175 on the under just to win $100 if Carolina falls short of that number. On the other hand, Bovada would pay you $145 if you want to take the Panthers winning nine or more games.

Based on those numbers, we can conclude that Vegas thinks Chicago has a 58.2% chance of going over 8.5 wins1, while Carolina has just a 38.6% chance of going over 8.5 wins.2 The table below shows the number of projected wins for each team in the NFL this year, along with the lines associated with their over and under bets. The final column shows the implied likelihood (by the over/under lines) of the team going over their win total; that column was used to break ties between teams with the same number of projected wins.

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  1. The -155 implies a 60.8% chance of going over 8.5 wins (155/255), while the +125 on the under implies a 55.5% chance of going over 8.5 wins (1 – [100/225]).  The average of 0.555 and 0.608 is .582. []
  2. An over line of +145 implies a 40.8% chance of going over (100/245), while an under of -175 implies just a 36.4% chance of going over (1 – [175/275] []
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2014 MVP Odds and Historical QB MVP Performance

On July 8th, Bovada released some early MVP odds, so I figured it would be fun to take a few minutes and examine which players seem like the best and worst bets. Bovada listed odds for 40 players. For example, Peyton Manning has odds of “3/1″ which implies that he has a 25% chance of winning the MVP (if you bet $10 on Manning, you get your $10 back plus $30 from the casino). The odds for all 40 players sum to about 140%, which means there’s a healthy house cushion built into these odds. And it’s even worse than that, as Bovada did not include a “Field” category, so the 140% doesn’t even include all possibilities. In any event, I divided each player’s implied odds by 140% to get “adjusted” percentages (or vigorish-adjusted odds) of winning the MVP. Take a look: [click to continue…]

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Not-Entirely-Awful NFL Futures Bets

In the 1990s, there was a hedge fund called Long Term Capital Management that almost brought down the world economy. LTCM made enormous bets on very arcane things such as the spread between two kinds of bonds. Their whole reason-for-being was that they would find small inefficiencies in prices and borrow like crazy to take advantage of those brief opportunities. Other hedge funds did similar things, but these guys thought that they were smarter than everyone else. And, to some extent, they may have even been right. But they were also a little contradictory. What made this hedge fund interesting was not just that it employed two Noble Prize-winning economists, but two who made their name arguing that markets for financial assets were efficient. If their research was right, the inefficiencies on which they were betting should not have existed in the first place.

Now, these guys are way smarter than me, but you may have noticed that I recently wrote about how the NFL betting market appears to be pretty efficient. If that’s right, there shouldn’t be any chances to make profitable NFL bets. If the prices are right, all I’m doing is paying the commission every time I make a bet. Like the guys at LTCM, however, I think I’m smart enough to find bets that are mispriced and that offer some opportunity to make money. I’m probably overconfident and wrong about that, but it’s too much fun to try. And if I fail, which the LTCM guys spectacularly did when some of their billion dollar bets went wrong, at least the implications will not send shock waves to central bankers in Peru.

Bets I Sort of Liked But Decided Not to Pull the Trigger On

There were a series of bets on season win totals that I liked but decided did not quite make sense in the end. Some of the reasons were hard-headedly analytical and others were more visceral. Most notably, I couldn’t commit actual dollars to betting on Ryan Fitzpatrick, even though I came pretty close. [click to continue…]

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A few days ago, I was in Vegas with friends and without a car. So I took the chance to shop NFL futures odds to the extent that I felt it was worth it to walk to a given sportsbook. I decided the 3+ mile walk to the Superbook was not worth the opportunity cost in the 105 degree heat, so I didn’t get their numbers. But I did get numbers from three of the major oddsmakers: William Hill, Cantor Gaming, and MGM. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about some bets that seem potentially attractive. As I described recently, the numbers are pretty good now and don’t leave obvious opportunities for the most part, I think.

Yes, I still did like some bets. I only found one season win total I really wanted to bet on, and it’s not one of the ones I would have bet back in March. I made a few bets at the William Hill sportsbook, just a little hole in the wall at the Hooters’ Casino a little ways off the Strip, which could just as easily have been in Nevada towns forgotten by time like Laughlin or Mesquite as in Las Vegas. Then I made a few bets not too far from the beautiful people at the Cantor book in the Cosmopolitan. I spent way too much time thinking about all this stuff, which might not have been necessary if I only had that time machine and could have bet on the initial lines. But there’s also some cool stuff by looking at the teams’ odds that have changed the most in both directions.

Season Win Totals

Some interesting movements have happened in the numbers that Cantor Gaming released in March. Those changes reflect everything that happened in free agency and the draft, but also maybe some numbers that people would have bet on anyway even if nothing had changed personnel-wise.  Below are the opening numbers along with the numbers I gathered during the last week. The Cantor numbers are mostly from 6/18 because their books that I went to would only give me the numbers one at a time. I gathered about eight of those numbers because I was at least considering them as wagers. For those teams, the most recent line is the one that I posted. The other companies’ books gave me complete printouts of all their season win-total lines.

A note on the odds: Lines like -140 mean that you would wager $140 to win $100. Lines like +130 mean you wager $100 to win $130. The numbers are usually split by 20 on either side, which represents the vig, or Vegas’s commission. For example, Denver being at -115 for the over would usually go with -105 on the under. For bigger odds, the over and under can be split by more. Also, the MGM has a slightly larger vig, with a 30 split between the over and under. [click to continue…]

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The Smarter (Sigh) Football Betting Market

Economists (I am one) have historically been trained to believe in the efficiency of markets. The simplest way to think of this is that market prices capture all relevant information. Of course, this is sometimes not quite right, or even close to right. All the mortgage-backed securities that helped bring down our economy were horrendously mispriced, for example, despite lots of people seeing the warning signs. Even then, people betting against those securities provided information about their true value. They were just drowned out for too long by people clamoring to buy that worthless stuff.

The sports betting market, though, is a case that we might actually expect to work better. Unlike mortgage-backed securities, everyone making a wager in Las Vegas is incentivized to get the price right. There’s nobody who’s pushing a bad wager on their clients, for example.1 Therefore, we might expect efficient markets to mostly work in Vegas and that the odds would converge to the correct number.

Mostly, it seems like that’s what’s going on. Whatever information is not contained in the initial odds may be quickly corrected as people swoop in to take advantage. I’ve experienced this first-hand. Last year, I went to Vegas about a week after the first season win-totals for 2013 came out. I found the numbers online and came up with this list of wagers I was interested in. [click to continue…]

  1. These perverse incentives have been going on a long time, too. Check out Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker for fascinating stories of investment bankers pushing junk on their clients. []
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FSU is a heavy favorite to wind up in the national title game again

FSU is a heavy favorite to wind up in the national title game again.

The Simple Rating System is a set of computer rankings that is focused on only two variables: strength of schedule and margin of victory. I publish weekly college football SRS ratings each season, and you can read more about the SRS there. Last year, I took the Las Vegas point spreads for over 200 college football games to come up with a set of power rankings. By taking every data point, and using Excel to iterate the ratings hundreds of times, I was able to generate a set of implied team ratings.

Well on Friday, the Golden Nugget released the point spreads for 200 games (h/t to RJ Bell). You might not think we can do much with just a couple hundred games, but by using an SRS-style process, those point spreads can help us determine the implied ratings that Las Vegas has assigned to each team.

We don’t have a full slate of games, but we do have at least 1 game for 77 different teams. Theoretically, this is different than using actual game results: one game can be enough to come up with Vegas’ implied rating for the team. Purdue may only have a spread for one game, but that’s enough. Why? Because Purdue is a 21-point underdog at a neutral field (Lucas Oil) against Notre Dame, and we have point spreads for the Fighting Irish in ten other games. Since we can be reasonably confident in Notre Dame’s rating, that makes us able to be pretty confident about Purdue’s rating, too.

The system is pretty simple: I took the point spread for each game and turned it into a marvin of victory, after assigning 3 points to the road team in each game. For example, Alabama is a 6-point home favorite against Auburn. So for that game, we assume Vegas believes the Tide are three points better than the Tigers; if we do this for each of the other 199 games, and then iterate the results hundreds of times, we can come up with a set of power ratings. [click to continue…]

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Previewing the World Cup by NFL Divisions

The Super Bowl is a football competition decided by a series of single-elimination playoff games played after 32 teams attempt to qualify from eight groups of four teams each. That’s the World Cup, too!

And just like the NFL, there are some not-so-good AFC South-ish groups and some very good NFC West-like groups. So let’s assign each World Cup group its doppelganger of an NFL division, and then every team to one of the NFL teams in that division.

That gives us our NFL World Cup Bracket. The AFC South is Group E, which contains no great team and at least one candidate to be the Jacksonville Jaguars of the World Cup. The NFC West is Group B, which has three legitimate contenders to win the whole thing, one of which will not even make it out of the group.

Each team is listed in its predicted order of finish within the group according to my highly scientific NFL-based World Cup prediction machine. Teams with a * are predicted to advance out of the group.

NFL WC Bracket [click to continue…]

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Vegas Has The Seahawks As the Best Team in 2014

Last year, I derived implied SRS Ratings for each NFL team based on the initial Vegas point spreads. Well, lines have been set for the first 240 games of the year — i.e., every week but week 17 — which means we can re-run the exercise for 2014.

So how do we use point spread data to derive SRS ratings? The point spread in each game provides an implied strength margin (“ISM”) between the two teams: When the Raiders are 10-point home underdogs to Denver, that implies that Denver is 13 points better than Oakland. If we treat each ISM like we would margin of victory, then we can use the SRS to come up with team ratings. For those who need a primer on what the SRS is, you can read about it here; the rest of you can skip to the ratings:

Rk
Team
MOV
SOS
SRS
1Seattle Seahawks5.10.926.02
2Denver Broncos5.530.155.68
3San Francisco 49ers4.30.815.11
4Green Bay Packers3.50.33.8
5New England Patriots3.6-0.393.21
6New Orleans Saints2.070.782.85
7Carolina Panthers1.330.822.15
8Chicago Bears0.570.781.35
9Philadelphia Eagles1.20.071.27
10Cincinnati Bengals1.3-0.171.13
11Indianapolis Colts1.97-0.891.08
12Detroit Lions0.93-0.030.9
13Kansas City Chiefs0.730.120.85
14Atlanta Falcons0.30.390.69
15Pittsburgh Steelers1.47-0.850.61
16Dallas Cowboys0.370.140.5
17Baltimore Ravens0.93-0.580.36
18Arizona Cardinals-1.271-0.27
19New York Giants-0.23-0.11-0.35
20San Diego Chargers-0.3-0.13-0.43
21Houston Texans0.4-1.46-1.06
22Miami Dolphins-1.1-0.44-1.54
23Washington Redskins-1.27-0.34-1.6
24Tampa Bay Buccaneers-2.370.48-1.88
25St. Louis Rams-2.70.72-1.98
26New York Jets-2.6-0.03-2.63
27Cleveland Browns-1.87-0.82-2.69
28Buffalo Bills-2.6-0.37-2.97
29Minnesota Vikings-3.60.47-3.13
30Tennessee Titans-1.97-1.31-3.27
31Oakland Raiders-6.270.52-5.75
32Jacksonville Jaguars-7.47-0.55-8.01

This time last year, the top five teams were…. well, the exact same five teams, albeit in a slightly different order. And the bottom three teams were… Jacksonville, Oakland, and Tennessee, in that exact order. The Broncos have the largest average margin of victory1, but because the Seahawks face a tougher schedule, the Seahawks are implied by Vegas to be the strongest team in the NFL at six points better than average.

One interesting way to use the SRS is to see which teams have the hardest schedules. Pre-season strength of schedule is essentially meaningless when based on last year’s record, but the SOS ratings here are based on the implied strengths of each team. In my opinion, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better set of strength of schedule ratings in May than what we see here (other than the fact that they exclude week 17).

The toughest schedule this year belongs to Arizona: add in the oldest roster in the league in 2013, and it’s easy to see why Vegas is so bearish on the Cardinals in 2014. The Seahawks (+0.92) and 49ers (+0.81) have two of the next three toughest schedules (with the Panthers sandwiched between them). The Rams are a few spots down, but remember: this is only the strength of schedule for the first sixteen weeks of the season. St. Louis travels to Seattle in week 17, so the Rams schedule would be just as brutal if we included that game. The Bears having one of the five hardest schedules is a surprise after having such an easy slate in 2013.  It’s true that this analysis ignores that Chicago gets to play Minnesota in week 17, which would ease their schedule strength, but the Bears face the 49ers, Patriots, Saints, and Panthers this year, along with two games against Green Bay. That’s six games against top-7 teams.

Three AFC South teams have the easiest schedules; the Jaguars would probably join the rest of the division if they had two games against Jacksonville. The Texans are set up nicely for a rebound season under Jadeveon Clowney, Bill O’Brien, and, uh, Ryan Fitzpatrick/Case Keenum/Tom Savage. What’s really incredible about Houston’s schedule: not only do the Texans have the easiest schedule through 16 weeks, the Texans host the Jaguars in week 17! Including that game would bring Houston’s schedule down to 1.9 points easier than average.

If you include that game, 8 of the Texans’ 16 games are against teams that are 1.5 points weaker than average. Playing six games against the AFC South, the NFC East and the AFC North, and the Bills and Raiders makes for about as easy a schedule as one could create. Assuming the Texans would be favored in week 17, that means Houston — which went 2-14 last year — is favored in 8 of 16 games and a pick’em in three others (Philadelphia and Cincinnati at home, Tennessee on the road). That’s pretty incredible, and explains why Vegas was so bullish on Houston.

The table below shows each game in the first sixteen weeks of the 2014 season.  Here’s how to read the Seahawks/Raiders line: In week 9, Seattle hosts Oakland. The line is -14.5, which means the Seahawks are 14.5-point favorites. Seattle’s SRS is 6.0 while Oakland has an SRS of -5.8. Therefore, the line predicted by the SRS would be Seattle -14.8 (since the Raiders are 11.8 points worse than the Seahawks and on the road). The difference between the actual line and the SRS line is -0.3 points. By definition, the sum of all the differences between the actual lines and SRS lines must be 0, since the SRS lines were generated from the actual lines. The table below contains 480 rows, showing each game from the perspective of both teams (although the only searchable column is the first team column):

Wk
Team 1
Team 2
H/R
Line
Tm SRS
Opp SRS
Proj SRS Line
Diff
9Seattle SeahawksOakland RaidersHome-14.56-5.8-14.8-0.3
3New England PatriotsOakland RaidersHome-133.2-5.8-121
12Indianapolis ColtsJacksonville JaguarsHome-121.1-8-12.1-0.1
14Denver BroncosBuffalo BillsHome-11.55.7-3-11.7-0.2
1Philadelphia EaglesJacksonville JaguarsHome-111.3-8-12.3-1.3
9Cincinnati BengalsJacksonville JaguarsHome-111.1-8-12.1-1.1
9San Francisco 49ersSt. Louis RamsHome-115.1-2-10.10.9
15Baltimore RavensJacksonville JaguarsHome-10.50.4-8-11.4-0.9
12Seattle SeahawksArizona CardinalsHome-10.56-0.3-9.31.2
4San Diego ChargersJacksonville JaguarsHome-10-0.4-8-10.6-0.6
12Denver BroncosMiami DolphinsHome-105.7-1.5-10.2-0.2
5Green Bay PackersMinnesota VikingsHome-103.8-3.1-9.90.1
10Seattle SeahawksNew York GiantsHome-106-0.3-9.30.7
3New Orleans SaintsMinnesota VikingsHome-102.8-3.1-8.91.1
10Dallas CowboysJacksonville JaguarsLond-100.5-8-8.51.5
10Denver BroncosOakland RaidersRoad-105.7-5.8-8.51.5
2Washington RedskinsJacksonville JaguarsHome-9-1.6-8-9.4-0.4
5Denver BroncosArizona CardinalsHome-95.7-0.3-90
12San Francisco 49ersWashington RedskinsHome-8.55.1-1.6-9.7-1.2
15Kansas City ChiefsOakland RaidersHome-8.50.8-5.8-9.6-1.1
2Green Bay PackersNew York JetsHome-8.53.8-2.6-9.4-0.9
8Denver BroncosSan Diego ChargersHome-8.55.7-0.4-9.1-0.6
11San Diego ChargersOakland RaidersHome-8-0.4-5.8-8.4-0.4
7New England PatriotsNew York JetsHome-7.53.2-2.6-8.8-1.3
6Seattle SeahawksDallas CowboysHome-7.560.5-8.5-1
16Carolina PanthersCleveland BrownsHome-7.52.1-2.7-7.8-0.3
5New Orleans SaintsTampa Bay BuccaneersHome-7.52.8-1.9-7.7-0.2
4Indianapolis ColtsTennessee TitansHome-7.51.1-3.3-7.40.1
5Detroit LionsBuffalo BillsHome-7.50.9-3-6.90.6
16San Francisco 49ersSan Diego ChargersHome-75.1-0.4-8.5-1.5
14San Francisco 49ersOakland RaidersRoad-75.1-5.8-7.9-0.9
2Denver BroncosKansas City ChiefsHome-75.70.8-7.9-0.9
6Tennessee TitansJacksonville JaguarsHome-7-3.3-8-7.7-0.7
1Denver BroncosIndianapolis ColtsHome-75.71.1-7.6-0.6
12Philadelphia EaglesTennessee TitansHome-71.3-3.3-7.6-0.6
11Chicago BearsMinnesota VikingsHome-71.4-3.1-7.5-0.5
3Cincinnati BengalsTennessee TitansHome-71.1-3.3-7.4-0.4
5San Francisco 49ersKansas City ChiefsHome-75.10.8-7.3-0.3
15Detroit LionsMinnesota VikingsHome-70.9-3.1-70
2San Francisco 49ersChicago BearsHome-75.11.4-6.70.3
12Atlanta FalconsCleveland BrownsHome-70.7-2.7-6.40.6
15New England PatriotsMiami DolphinsHome-6.53.2-1.5-7.7-1.2
1Chicago BearsBuffalo BillsHome-6.51.4-3-7.4-0.9
15Carolina PanthersTampa Bay BuccaneersHome-6.52.1-1.9-7-0.5
10Cincinnati BengalsCleveland BrownsHome-6.51.1-2.7-6.8-0.3
14Green Bay PackersAtlanta FalconsHome-6.53.80.7-6.10.4
8Kansas City ChiefsSt. Louis RamsHome-6.50.8-2-5.80.7
5Pittsburgh SteelersJacksonville JaguarsRoad-6.50.6-8-5.60.9
12New Orleans SaintsBaltimore RavensHome-6.52.80.4-5.41.1
16New Orleans SaintsAtlanta FalconsHome-6.52.80.7-5.11.4
4San Francisco 49ersPhiladelphia EaglesHome-65.11.3-6.8-0.8
10Baltimore RavensTennessee TitansHome-60.4-3.3-6.7-0.7
9Kansas City ChiefsNew York JetsHome-60.8-2.6-6.4-0.4
12Chicago BearsTampa Bay BuccaneersHome-61.4-1.9-6.3-0.3
5Philadelphia EaglesSt. Louis RamsHome-61.3-2-6.3-0.3
3Indianapolis ColtsJacksonville JaguarsRoad-61.1-8-6.1-0.1
7Chicago BearsMiami DolphinsHome-61.4-1.5-5.90.1
14Detroit LionsTampa Bay BuccaneersHome-60.9-1.9-5.80.2
13Indianapolis ColtsWashington RedskinsHome-61.1-1.6-5.70.3
10Green Bay PackersChicago BearsHome-63.81.4-5.40.6
6Denver BroncosNew York JetsRoad-65.7-2.6-5.30.7
12New England PatriotsDetroit LionsHome-63.20.9-5.30.7
7Seattle SeahawksSt. Louis RamsRoad-66-2-51
13St. Louis RamsOakland RaidersHome-5.5-2-5.8-6.8-1.3
3Atlanta FalconsTampa Bay BuccaneersHome-5.50.7-1.9-5.6-0.1
13New York GiantsJacksonville JaguarsRoad-5.5-0.3-8-4.70.8
1Kansas City ChiefsTennessee TitansHome-50.8-3.3-7.1-2.1
1Pittsburgh SteelersCleveland BrownsHome-50.6-2.7-6.3-1.3
10Detroit LionsMiami DolphinsHome-50.9-1.5-5.4-0.4
1Seattle SeahawksGreen Bay PackersHome-563.8-5.2-0.2
13Houston TexansTennessee TitansHome-5-1.1-3.3-5.2-0.2
4Houston TexansBuffalo BillsHome-5-1.1-3-4.90.1
4Miami DolphinsOakland RaidersLond-5-1.5-5.8-4.30.7
1New York JetsOakland RaidersHome-4.5-2.6-5.8-6.2-1.7
8Cleveland BrownsOakland RaidersHome-4.5-2.7-5.8-6.1-1.6
3Philadelphia EaglesWashington RedskinsHome-4.51.3-1.6-5.9-1.4
11Green Bay PackersPhiladelphia EaglesHome-4.53.81.3-5.5-1
15Indianapolis ColtsHouston TexansHome-4.51.1-1.1-5.2-0.7
8Dallas CowboysWashington RedskinsHome-4.50.5-1.6-5.1-0.6
8New England PatriotsChicago BearsHome-4.53.21.4-4.8-0.3
11Denver BroncosSt. Louis RamsRoad-4.55.7-2-4.7-0.2
6Philadelphia EaglesNew York GiantsHome-4.51.3-0.3-4.6-0.1
5Seattle SeahawksWashington RedskinsRoad-4.56-1.6-4.6-0.1
5Dallas CowboysHouston TexansHome-4.50.5-1.1-4.6-0.1
1St. Louis RamsMinnesota VikingsHome-4.5-2-3.1-4.10.4
6San Francisco 49ersSt. Louis RamsRoad-4.55.1-2-4.10.4
12Green Bay PackersMinnesota VikingsRoad-4.53.8-3.1-3.90.6
14Chicago BearsDallas CowboysHome-4.51.40.5-3.90.6
15Green Bay PackersBuffalo BillsRoad-4.53.8-3-3.80.7
5San Diego ChargersNew York JetsHome-4-0.4-2.6-5.2-1.2
5New England PatriotsCincinnati BengalsHome-43.21.1-5.1-1.1
10Arizona CardinalsSt. Louis RamsHome-4-0.3-2-4.7-0.7
11New Orleans SaintsCincinnati BengalsHome-42.81.1-4.7-0.7
7Green Bay PackersCarolina PanthersHome-43.82.1-4.7-0.7
16Miami DolphinsMinnesota VikingsHome-4-1.5-3.1-4.6-0.6
12San Diego ChargersSt. Louis RamsHome-4-0.4-2-4.6-0.6
11Carolina PanthersAtlanta FalconsHome-42.10.7-4.4-0.4
6Arizona CardinalsWashington RedskinsHome-4-0.3-1.6-4.3-0.3
1Detroit LionsNew York GiantsHome-40.9-0.3-4.2-0.2
13Atlanta FalconsArizona CardinalsHome-40.7-0.3-40
14Houston TexansJacksonville JaguarsRoad-4-1.1-8-3.90.1
3New York GiantsHouston TexansHome-4-0.3-1.1-3.80.2
12Kansas City ChiefsOakland RaidersRoad-40.8-5.8-3.60.4
8Miami DolphinsJacksonville JaguarsRoad-4-1.5-8-3.50.5
16Chicago BearsDetroit LionsHome-41.40.9-3.50.5
4Pittsburgh SteelersTampa Bay BuccaneersHome-3.50.6-1.9-5.5-2
7Washington RedskinsTennessee TitansHome-3.5-1.6-3.3-4.7-1.2
7Pittsburgh SteelersHouston TexansHome-3.50.6-1.1-4.7-1.2
3Carolina PanthersPittsburgh SteelersHome-3.52.10.6-4.5-1
11Miami DolphinsBuffalo BillsHome-3.5-1.5-3-4.5-1
15New York GiantsWashington RedskinsHome-3.5-0.3-1.6-4.3-0.8
2Carolina PanthersDetroit LionsHome-3.52.10.9-4.2-0.7
15Seattle SeahawksSan Francisco 49ersHome-3.565.1-3.9-0.4
7Dallas CowboysNew York GiantsHome-3.50.5-0.3-3.8-0.3
9Dallas CowboysArizona CardinalsHome-3.50.5-0.3-3.8-0.3
5Carolina PanthersChicago BearsHome-3.52.11.4-3.7-0.2
14New Orleans SaintsCarolina PanthersHome-3.52.82.1-3.7-0.2
13Green Bay PackersNew England PatriotsHome-3.53.83.2-3.6-0.1
3Seattle SeahawksDenver BroncosHome-3.565.7-3.30.2
16Seattle SeahawksArizona CardinalsRoad-3.56-0.3-3.30.2
6New England PatriotsBuffalo BillsRoad-3.53.2-3-3.20.3
15Denver BroncosSan Diego ChargersRoad-3.55.7-0.4-3.10.4
15Atlanta FalconsPittsburgh SteelersHome-3.50.70.6-3.10.4
7Arizona CardinalsOakland RaidersRoad-3.5-0.3-5.8-2.51
1New England PatriotsMiami DolphinsRoad-3.53.2-1.5-1.71.8
1San Francisco 49ersDallas CowboysRoad-3.55.10.5-1.61.9
8Tampa Bay BuccaneersMinnesota VikingsHome-3-1.9-3.1-4.2-1.2
13Baltimore RavensSan Diego ChargersHome-30.4-0.4-3.8-0.8
15Philadelphia EaglesDallas CowboysHome-31.30.5-3.8-0.8
8Cincinnati BengalsBaltimore RavensHome-31.10.4-3.7-0.7
5Indianapolis ColtsBaltimore RavensHome-31.10.4-3.7-0.7
7Denver BroncosSan Francisco 49ersHome-35.75.1-3.6-0.6
14Cincinnati BengalsPittsburgh SteelersHome-31.10.6-3.5-0.5
2Cincinnati BengalsAtlanta FalconsHome-31.10.7-3.4-0.4
2New England PatriotsMinnesota VikingsRoad-33.2-3.1-3.3-0.3
1Arizona CardinalsSan Diego ChargersHome-3-0.3-0.4-3.1-0.1
2New York GiantsArizona CardinalsHome-3-0.3-0.3-30
16New England PatriotsNew York JetsRoad-33.2-2.6-2.80.2
7Baltimore RavensAtlanta FalconsHome-30.40.7-2.70.3
16Green Bay PackersTampa Bay BuccaneersRoad-33.8-1.9-2.70.3
13Detroit LionsChicago BearsHome-30.91.4-2.50.5
11San Francisco 49ersNew York GiantsRoad-35.1-0.3-2.40.6
6Atlanta FalconsChicago BearsHome-30.71.4-2.30.7
13Carolina PanthersMinnesota VikingsRoad-32.1-3.1-2.20.8
13Denver BroncosKansas City ChiefsRoad-35.70.8-1.91.1
16Tennessee TitansJacksonville JaguarsRoad-3-3.3-8-1.71.3
15Chicago BearsNew Orleans SaintsHome-31.42.8-1.61.4
16St. Louis RamsNew York GiantsHome-3-2-0.3-1.31.7
1Houston TexansWashington RedskinsHome-2.5-1.1-1.6-3.5-1
2Seattle SeahawksSan Diego ChargersRoad-2.56-0.4-3.4-0.9
14Washington RedskinsSt. Louis RamsHome-2.5-1.6-2-3.4-0.9
8New York JetsBuffalo BillsHome-2.5-2.6-3-3.4-0.9
11Washington RedskinsTampa Bay BuccaneersHome-2.5-1.6-1.9-3.3-0.8
9Pittsburgh SteelersBaltimore RavensHome-2.50.60.4-3.2-0.7
7Buffalo BillsMinnesota VikingsHome-2.5-3-3.1-3.1-0.6
2Tampa Bay BuccaneersSt. Louis RamsHome-2.5-1.9-2-3.1-0.6
7Indianapolis ColtsCincinnati BengalsHome-2.51.11.1-3-0.5
2Indianapolis ColtsPhiladelphia EaglesHome-2.51.11.3-2.8-0.3
13Buffalo BillsCleveland BrownsHome-2.5-3-2.7-2.7-0.2
12Buffalo BillsNew York JetsHome-2.5-3-2.6-2.6-0.1
2New Orleans SaintsCleveland BrownsRoad-2.52.8-2.7-2.50
16Dallas CowboysIndianapolis ColtsHome-2.50.51.1-2.40.1
5Tennessee TitansCleveland BrownsHome-2.5-3.3-2.7-2.40.1
3San Francisco 49ersArizona CardinalsRoad-2.55.1-0.3-2.40.1
6San Diego ChargersOakland RaidersRoad-2.5-0.4-5.8-2.40.1
6Green Bay PackersMiami DolphinsRoad-2.53.8-1.5-2.30.2
7Cleveland BrownsJacksonville JaguarsRoad-2.5-2.7-8-2.30.2
1Baltimore RavensCincinnati BengalsHome-2.50.41.1-2.30.2
9Carolina PanthersNew Orleans SaintsHome-2.52.12.8-2.30.2
12New York GiantsDallas CowboysHome-2.5-0.30.5-2.20.3
9Cleveland BrownsTampa Bay BuccaneersHome-2.5-2.7-1.9-2.20.3
11Seattle SeahawksKansas City ChiefsRoad-2.560.8-2.20.3
13San Francisco 49ersSeattle SeahawksHome-2.55.16-2.10.4
5New York GiantsAtlanta FalconsHome-2.5-0.30.7-20.5
8New Orleans SaintsGreen Bay PackersHome-2.52.83.8-20.5
9Miami DolphinsSan Diego ChargersHome-2.5-1.5-0.4-1.90.6
11Arizona CardinalsDetroit LionsHome-2.5-0.30.9-1.80.7
2Houston TexansOakland RaidersRoad-2.5-1.1-5.8-1.70.8
2Dallas CowboysTennessee TitansRoad-2.50.5-3.3-0.81.7
13Pittsburgh SteelersNew Orleans SaintsHome-2.50.62.8-0.81.7
2Baltimore RavensPittsburgh SteelersHome-20.40.6-2.8-0.8
14Minnesota VikingsNew York JetsHome-2-3.1-2.6-2.5-0.5
8Pittsburgh SteelersIndianapolis ColtsHome-20.61.1-2.5-0.5
6Cincinnati BengalsCarolina PanthersHome-21.12.1-20
14Arizona CardinalsKansas City ChiefsHome-2-0.30.8-1.90.1
7San Diego ChargersKansas City ChiefsHome-2-0.40.8-1.80.2
8Arizona CardinalsPhiladelphia EaglesHome-2-0.31.3-1.40.6
1Carolina PanthersTampa Bay BuccaneersRoad-22.1-1.9-11
11Pittsburgh SteelersTennessee TitansRoad-20.6-3.3-0.91.1
10Kansas City ChiefsBuffalo BillsRoad-20.8-3-0.81.2
10Pittsburgh SteelersNew York JetsRoad-20.6-2.6-0.21.8
16Pittsburgh SteelersKansas City ChiefsHome-1.50.60.8-2.8-1.3
15Tennessee TitansNew York JetsHome-1.5-3.3-2.6-2.3-0.8
13Dallas CowboysPhiladelphia EaglesHome-1.50.51.3-2.2-0.7
4Washington RedskinsNew York GiantsHome-1.5-1.6-0.3-1.7-0.2
16Denver BroncosCincinnati BengalsRoad-1.55.71.1-1.6-0.1
9Minnesota VikingsWashington RedskinsHome-1.5-3.1-1.6-1.50
11Cleveland BrownsHouston TexansHome-1.5-2.7-1.1-1.40.1
7Detroit LionsNew Orleans SaintsHome-1.50.92.8-1.10.4
8Seattle SeahawksCarolina PanthersRoad-1.562.1-0.90.6
15Cincinnati BengalsCleveland BrownsRoad-1.51.1-2.7-0.80.7
10New Orleans SaintsSan Francisco 49ersHome-1.52.85.1-0.70.8
4Chicago BearsGreen Bay PackersHome-1.51.43.8-0.60.9
16Philadelphia EaglesWashington RedskinsRoad-1.51.3-1.60.11.6
10Philadelphia EaglesCarolina PanthersHome-11.32.1-2.2-1.2
13New York JetsMiami DolphinsHome-1-2.6-1.5-1.9-0.9
14Seattle SeahawksPhiladelphia EaglesRoad-161.3-1.7-0.7
9New York GiantsIndianapolis ColtsHome-1-0.31.1-1.6-0.6
16Houston TexansBaltimore RavensHome-1-1.10.4-1.5-0.5
2Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsHome-1-3-1.5-1.5-0.5
15St. Louis RamsArizona CardinalsHome-1-2-0.3-1.3-0.3
4Baltimore RavensCarolina PanthersHome-10.42.1-1.3-0.3
6Detroit LionsMinnesota VikingsRoad-10.9-3.1-10
11Indianapolis ColtsNew England PatriotsHome-11.13.2-0.90.1
1Atlanta FalconsNew Orleans SaintsHome-10.72.8-0.90.1
4Atlanta FalconsMinnesota VikingsRoad-10.7-3.1-0.80.2
6Houston TexansIndianapolis ColtsHome-1-1.11.1-0.80.2
14Indianapolis ColtsCleveland BrownsRoad-11.1-2.7-0.80.2
6Tampa Bay BuccaneersBaltimore RavensHome-1-1.90.4-0.70.3
14New England PatriotsSan Diego ChargersRoad-13.2-0.4-0.60.4
4Kansas City ChiefsNew England PatriotsHome-10.83.2-0.60.4
4Detroit LionsNew York JetsRoad-10.9-2.6-0.50.5
9New England PatriotsDenver BroncosHome-13.25.7-0.50.5
3Buffalo BillsSan Diego ChargersHome-1-3-0.4-0.40.6
8Detroit LionsAtlanta FalconsLond-10.90.7-0.20.8
14New York GiantsTennessee TitansRoad-1-0.3-3.301
3Green Bay PackersDetroit LionsRoad-13.80.90.11.1
16Buffalo BillsOakland RaidersRoad-1-3-5.80.21.2
14Miami DolphinsBaltimore RavensHome0-1.50.4-1.1-1.1
3Chicago BearsNew York JetsRoad01.4-2.6-1-1
12Houston TexansCincinnati BengalsHome0-1.11.1-0.8-0.8
8Tennessee TitansHouston TexansHome0-3.3-1.1-0.8-0.8
4Dallas CowboysNew Orleans SaintsHome00.52.8-0.7-0.7
3Miami DolphinsKansas City ChiefsHome0-1.50.8-0.7-0.7
9Houston TexansPhiladelphia EaglesHome0-1.11.3-0.6-0.6
3St. Louis RamsDallas CowboysHome0-20.5-0.5-0.5
10Tampa Bay BuccaneersAtlanta FalconsHome0-1.90.7-0.4-0.4
6Pittsburgh SteelersCleveland BrownsRoad00.6-2.7-0.3-0.3
3Baltimore RavensCleveland BrownsRoad00.4-2.7-0.1-0.1
13Cincinnati BengalsTampa Bay BuccaneersRoad01.1-1.900
13Tampa Bay BuccaneersCincinnati BengalsHome0-1.91.100
3Cleveland BrownsBaltimore RavensHome0-2.70.40.10.1
6Cleveland BrownsPittsburgh SteelersHome0-2.70.60.30.3
10Atlanta FalconsTampa Bay BuccaneersRoad00.7-1.90.40.4
3Dallas CowboysSt. Louis RamsRoad00.5-20.50.5
9Philadelphia EaglesHouston TexansRoad01.3-1.10.60.6
3Kansas City ChiefsMiami DolphinsRoad00.8-1.50.70.7
4New Orleans SaintsDallas CowboysRoad02.80.50.70.7
8Houston TexansTennessee TitansRoad0-1.1-3.30.80.8
12Cincinnati BengalsHouston TexansRoad01.1-1.10.80.8
3New York JetsChicago BearsHome0-2.61.411
14Baltimore RavensMiami DolphinsRoad00.4-1.51.11.1
16Oakland RaidersBuffalo BillsHome1-5.8-3-0.2-1.2
3Detroit LionsGreen Bay PackersHome10.93.8-0.1-1.1
14Tennessee TitansNew York GiantsHome1-3.3-0.30-1
8Atlanta FalconsDetroit LionsLond10.70.90.2-0.8
3San Diego ChargersBuffalo BillsRoad1-0.4-30.4-0.6
4New York JetsDetroit LionsHome1-2.60.90.5-0.5
9Denver BroncosNew England PatriotsRoad15.73.20.5-0.5
14San Diego ChargersNew England PatriotsHome1-0.43.20.6-0.4
4New England PatriotsKansas City ChiefsRoad13.20.80.6-0.4
6Baltimore RavensTampa Bay BuccaneersRoad10.4-1.90.7-0.3
14Cleveland BrownsIndianapolis ColtsHome1-2.71.10.8-0.2
4Minnesota VikingsAtlanta FalconsHome1-3.10.70.8-0.2
6Indianapolis ColtsHouston TexansRoad11.1-1.10.8-0.2
11New England PatriotsIndianapolis ColtsRoad13.21.10.9-0.1
1New Orleans SaintsAtlanta FalconsRoad12.80.70.9-0.1
6Minnesota VikingsDetroit LionsHome1-3.10.910
4Carolina PanthersBaltimore RavensRoad12.10.41.30.3
15Arizona CardinalsSt. Louis RamsRoad1-0.3-21.30.3
2Miami DolphinsBuffalo BillsRoad1-1.5-31.50.5
16Baltimore RavensHouston TexansRoad10.4-1.11.50.5
9Indianapolis ColtsNew York GiantsRoad11.1-0.31.60.6
14Philadelphia EaglesSeattle SeahawksHome11.361.70.7
13Miami DolphinsNew York JetsRoad1-1.5-2.61.90.9
10Carolina PanthersPhiladelphia EaglesRoad12.11.32.21.2
16Washington RedskinsPhiladelphia EaglesHome1.5-1.61.3-0.1-1.6
4Green Bay PackersChicago BearsRoad1.53.81.40.6-0.9
10San Francisco 49ersNew Orleans SaintsRoad1.55.12.80.7-0.8
15Cleveland BrownsCincinnati BengalsHome1.5-2.71.10.8-0.7
8Carolina PanthersSeattle SeahawksHome1.52.160.9-0.6
7New Orleans SaintsDetroit LionsRoad1.52.80.91.1-0.4
11Houston TexansCleveland BrownsRoad1.5-1.1-2.71.4-0.1
9Washington RedskinsMinnesota VikingsRoad1.5-1.6-3.11.50
16Cincinnati BengalsDenver BroncosHome1.51.15.71.60.1
4New York GiantsWashington RedskinsRoad1.5-0.3-1.61.70.2
13Philadelphia EaglesDallas CowboysRoad1.51.30.52.20.7
15New York JetsTennessee TitansRoad1.5-2.6-3.32.30.8
16Kansas City ChiefsPittsburgh SteelersRoad1.50.80.62.81.3
10New York JetsPittsburgh SteelersHome2-2.60.60.2-1.8
10Buffalo BillsKansas City ChiefsHome2-30.80.8-1.2
11Tennessee TitansPittsburgh SteelersHome2-3.30.60.9-1.1
1Tampa Bay BuccaneersCarolina PanthersHome2-1.92.11-1
8Philadelphia EaglesArizona CardinalsRoad21.3-0.31.4-0.6
7Kansas City ChiefsSan Diego ChargersRoad20.8-0.41.8-0.2
14Kansas City ChiefsArizona CardinalsRoad20.8-0.31.9-0.1
6Carolina PanthersCincinnati BengalsRoad22.11.120
14New York JetsMinnesota VikingsRoad2-2.6-3.12.50.5
8Indianapolis ColtsPittsburgh SteelersRoad21.10.62.50.5
2Pittsburgh SteelersBaltimore RavensRoad20.60.42.80.8
2Tennessee TitansDallas CowboysHome2.5-3.30.50.8-1.7
13New Orleans SaintsPittsburgh SteelersRoad2.52.80.60.8-1.7
2Oakland RaidersHouston TexansHome2.5-5.8-1.11.7-0.8
11Detroit LionsArizona CardinalsRoad2.50.9-0.31.8-0.7
9San Diego ChargersMiami DolphinsRoad2.5-0.4-1.51.9-0.6
5Atlanta FalconsNew York GiantsRoad2.50.7-0.32-0.5
8Green Bay PackersNew Orleans SaintsRoad2.53.82.82-0.5
13Seattle SeahawksSan Francisco 49ersRoad2.565.12.1-0.4
12Dallas CowboysNew York GiantsRoad2.50.5-0.32.2-0.3
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersCleveland BrownsRoad2.5-1.9-2.72.2-0.3
11Kansas City ChiefsSeattle SeahawksHome2.50.862.2-0.3
1Cincinnati BengalsBaltimore RavensRoad2.51.10.42.3-0.2
6Miami DolphinsGreen Bay PackersHome2.5-1.53.82.3-0.2
7Jacksonville JaguarsCleveland BrownsHome2.5-8-2.72.3-0.2
9New Orleans SaintsCarolina PanthersRoad2.52.82.12.3-0.2
6Oakland RaidersSan Diego ChargersHome2.5-5.8-0.42.4-0.1
16Indianapolis ColtsDallas CowboysRoad2.51.10.52.4-0.1
3Arizona CardinalsSan Francisco 49ersHome2.5-0.35.12.4-0.1
5Cleveland BrownsTennessee TitansRoad2.5-2.7-3.32.4-0.1
2Cleveland BrownsNew Orleans SaintsHome2.5-2.72.82.50
12New York JetsBuffalo BillsRoad2.5-2.6-32.60.1
13Cleveland BrownsBuffalo BillsRoad2.5-2.7-32.70.2
2Philadelphia EaglesIndianapolis ColtsRoad2.51.31.12.80.3
7Cincinnati BengalsIndianapolis ColtsRoad2.51.11.130.5
2St. Louis RamsTampa Bay BuccaneersRoad2.5-2-1.93.10.6
7Minnesota VikingsBuffalo BillsRoad2.5-3.1-33.10.6
9Baltimore RavensPittsburgh SteelersRoad2.50.40.63.20.7
11Tampa Bay BuccaneersWashington RedskinsRoad2.5-1.9-1.63.30.8
8Buffalo BillsNew York JetsRoad2.5-3-2.63.40.9
14St. Louis RamsWashington RedskinsRoad2.5-2-1.63.40.9
2San Diego ChargersSeattle SeahawksHome2.5-0.463.40.9
1Washington RedskinsHouston TexansRoad2.5-1.6-1.13.51
16New York GiantsSt. Louis RamsRoad3-0.3-21.3-1.7
15New Orleans SaintsChicago BearsRoad32.81.41.6-1.4
16Jacksonville JaguarsTennessee TitansHome3-8-3.31.7-1.3
13Kansas City ChiefsDenver BroncosHome30.85.71.9-1.1
13Minnesota VikingsCarolina PanthersHome3-3.12.12.2-0.8
6Chicago BearsAtlanta FalconsRoad31.40.72.3-0.7
11New York GiantsSan Francisco 49ersHome3-0.35.12.4-0.6
13Chicago BearsDetroit LionsRoad31.40.92.5-0.5
7Atlanta FalconsBaltimore RavensRoad30.70.42.7-0.3
16Tampa Bay BuccaneersGreen Bay PackersHome3-1.93.82.7-0.3
16New York JetsNew England PatriotsHome3-2.63.22.8-0.2
2Arizona CardinalsNew York GiantsRoad3-0.3-0.330
1San Diego ChargersArizona CardinalsRoad3-0.4-0.33.10.1
2Minnesota VikingsNew England PatriotsHome3-3.13.23.30.3
2Atlanta FalconsCincinnati BengalsRoad30.71.13.40.4
14Pittsburgh SteelersCincinnati BengalsRoad30.61.13.50.5
7San Francisco 49ersDenver BroncosRoad35.15.73.60.6
5Baltimore RavensIndianapolis ColtsRoad30.41.13.70.7
8Baltimore RavensCincinnati BengalsRoad30.41.13.70.7
13San Diego ChargersBaltimore RavensRoad3-0.40.43.80.8
15Dallas CowboysPhiladelphia EaglesRoad30.51.33.80.8
8Minnesota VikingsTampa Bay BuccaneersRoad3-3.1-1.94.21.2
1Dallas CowboysSan Francisco 49ersHome3.50.55.11.6-1.9
1Miami DolphinsNew England PatriotsHome3.5-1.53.21.7-1.8
7Oakland RaidersArizona CardinalsHome3.5-5.8-0.32.5-1
15San Diego ChargersDenver BroncosHome3.5-0.45.73.1-0.4
15Pittsburgh SteelersAtlanta FalconsRoad3.50.60.73.1-0.4
6Buffalo BillsNew England PatriotsHome3.5-33.23.2-0.3
3Denver BroncosSeattle SeahawksRoad3.55.763.3-0.2
16Arizona CardinalsSeattle SeahawksHome3.5-0.363.3-0.2
13New England PatriotsGreen Bay PackersRoad3.53.23.83.60.1
14Carolina PanthersNew Orleans SaintsRoad3.52.12.83.70.2
5Chicago BearsCarolina PanthersRoad3.51.42.13.70.2
9Arizona CardinalsDallas CowboysRoad3.5-0.30.53.80.3
7New York GiantsDallas CowboysRoad3.5-0.30.53.80.3
15San Francisco 49ersSeattle SeahawksRoad3.55.163.90.4
2Detroit LionsCarolina PanthersRoad3.50.92.14.20.7
15Washington RedskinsNew York GiantsRoad3.5-1.6-0.34.30.8
11Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsRoad3.5-3-1.54.51
3Pittsburgh SteelersCarolina PanthersRoad3.50.62.14.51
7Tennessee TitansWashington RedskinsRoad3.5-3.3-1.64.71.2
7Houston TexansPittsburgh SteelersRoad3.5-1.10.64.71.2
4Tampa Bay BuccaneersPittsburgh SteelersRoad3.5-1.90.65.52
16Detroit LionsChicago BearsRoad40.91.43.5-0.5
8Jacksonville JaguarsMiami DolphinsHome4-8-1.53.5-0.5
12Oakland RaidersKansas City ChiefsHome4-5.80.83.6-0.4
3Houston TexansNew York GiantsRoad4-1.1-0.33.8-0.2
14Jacksonville JaguarsHouston TexansHome4-8-1.13.9-0.1
13Arizona CardinalsAtlanta FalconsRoad4-0.30.740
1New York GiantsDetroit LionsRoad4-0.30.94.20.2
6Washington RedskinsArizona CardinalsRoad4-1.6-0.34.30.3
11Atlanta FalconsCarolina PanthersRoad40.72.14.40.4
16Minnesota VikingsMiami DolphinsRoad4-3.1-1.54.60.6
12St. Louis RamsSan Diego ChargersRoad4-2-0.44.60.6
7Carolina PanthersGreen Bay PackersRoad42.13.84.70.7
10St. Louis RamsArizona CardinalsRoad4-2-0.34.70.7
11Cincinnati BengalsNew Orleans SaintsRoad41.12.84.70.7
5Cincinnati BengalsNew England PatriotsRoad41.13.25.11.1
5New York JetsSan Diego ChargersRoad4-2.6-0.45.21.2
15Buffalo BillsGreen Bay PackersHome4.5-33.83.8-0.7
14Dallas CowboysChicago BearsRoad4.50.51.43.9-0.6
12Minnesota VikingsGreen Bay PackersHome4.5-3.13.83.9-0.6
6St. Louis RamsSan Francisco 49ersHome4.5-25.14.1-0.4
1Minnesota VikingsSt. Louis RamsRoad4.5-3.1-24.1-0.4
6New York GiantsPhiladelphia EaglesRoad4.5-0.31.34.60.1
5Houston TexansDallas CowboysRoad4.5-1.10.54.60.1
5Washington RedskinsSeattle SeahawksHome4.5-1.664.60.1
11St. Louis RamsDenver BroncosHome4.5-25.74.70.2
8Chicago BearsNew England PatriotsRoad4.51.43.24.80.3
8Washington RedskinsDallas CowboysRoad4.5-1.60.55.10.6
15Houston TexansIndianapolis ColtsRoad4.5-1.11.15.20.7
11Philadelphia EaglesGreen Bay PackersRoad4.51.33.85.51
3Washington RedskinsPhiladelphia EaglesRoad4.5-1.61.35.91.4
8Oakland RaidersCleveland BrownsRoad4.5-5.8-2.76.11.6
1Oakland RaidersNew York JetsRoad4.5-5.8-2.66.21.7
4Oakland RaidersMiami DolphinsLond5-5.8-1.54.3-0.7
4Buffalo BillsHouston TexansRoad5-3-1.14.9-0.1
1Green Bay PackersSeattle SeahawksRoad53.865.20.2
13Tennessee TitansHouston TexansRoad5-3.3-1.15.20.2
10Miami DolphinsDetroit LionsRoad5-1.50.95.40.4
1Cleveland BrownsPittsburgh SteelersRoad5-2.70.66.31.3
1Tennessee TitansKansas City ChiefsRoad5-3.30.87.12.1
13Jacksonville JaguarsNew York GiantsHome5.5-8-0.34.7-0.8
3Tampa Bay BuccaneersAtlanta FalconsRoad5.5-1.90.75.60.1
13Oakland RaidersSt. Louis RamsRoad5.5-5.8-26.81.3
7St. Louis RamsSeattle SeahawksHome6-265-1
6New York JetsDenver BroncosHome6-2.65.75.3-0.7
12Detroit LionsNew England PatriotsRoad60.93.25.3-0.7
10Chicago BearsGreen Bay PackersRoad61.43.85.4-0.6
13Washington RedskinsIndianapolis ColtsRoad6-1.61.15.7-0.3
14Tampa Bay BuccaneersDetroit LionsRoad6-1.90.95.8-0.2
7Miami DolphinsChicago BearsRoad6-1.51.45.9-0.1
3Jacksonville JaguarsIndianapolis ColtsHome6-81.16.10.1
12Tampa Bay BuccaneersChicago BearsRoad6-1.91.46.30.3
5St. Louis RamsPhiladelphia EaglesRoad6-21.36.30.3
9New York JetsKansas City ChiefsRoad6-2.60.86.40.4
10Tennessee TitansBaltimore RavensRoad6-3.30.46.70.7
4Philadelphia EaglesSan Francisco 49ersRoad61.35.16.80.8
16Atlanta FalconsNew Orleans SaintsRoad6.50.72.85.1-1.4
12Baltimore RavensNew Orleans SaintsRoad6.50.42.85.4-1.1
5Jacksonville JaguarsPittsburgh SteelersHome6.5-80.65.6-0.9
8St. Louis RamsKansas City ChiefsRoad6.5-20.85.8-0.7
14Atlanta FalconsGreen Bay PackersRoad6.50.73.86.1-0.4
10Cleveland BrownsCincinnati BengalsRoad6.5-2.71.16.80.3
15Tampa Bay BuccaneersCarolina PanthersRoad6.5-1.92.170.5
1Buffalo BillsChicago BearsRoad6.5-31.47.40.9
15Miami DolphinsNew England PatriotsRoad6.5-1.53.27.71.2
12Cleveland BrownsAtlanta FalconsRoad7-2.70.76.4-0.6
2Chicago BearsSan Francisco 49ersRoad71.45.16.7-0.3
15Minnesota VikingsDetroit LionsRoad7-3.10.970
5Kansas City ChiefsSan Francisco 49ersRoad70.85.17.30.3
3Tennessee TitansCincinnati BengalsRoad7-3.31.17.40.4
11Minnesota VikingsChicago BearsRoad7-3.11.47.50.5
12Tennessee TitansPhiladelphia EaglesRoad7-3.31.37.60.6
1Indianapolis ColtsDenver BroncosRoad71.15.77.60.6
6Jacksonville JaguarsTennessee TitansRoad7-8-3.37.70.7
2Kansas City ChiefsDenver BroncosRoad70.85.77.90.9
14Oakland RaidersSan Francisco 49ersHome7-5.85.17.90.9
16San Diego ChargersSan Francisco 49ersRoad7-0.45.18.51.5
5Buffalo BillsDetroit LionsRoad7.5-30.96.9-0.6
4Tennessee TitansIndianapolis ColtsRoad7.5-3.31.17.4-0.1
5Tampa Bay BuccaneersNew Orleans SaintsRoad7.5-1.92.87.70.2
16Cleveland BrownsCarolina PanthersRoad7.5-2.72.17.80.3
6Dallas CowboysSeattle SeahawksRoad7.50.568.51
7New York JetsNew England PatriotsRoad7.5-2.63.28.81.3
11Oakland RaidersSan Diego ChargersRoad8-5.8-0.48.40.4
8San Diego ChargersDenver BroncosRoad8.5-0.45.79.10.6
2New York JetsGreen Bay PackersRoad8.5-2.63.89.40.9
15Oakland RaidersKansas City ChiefsRoad8.5-5.80.89.61.1
12Washington RedskinsSan Francisco 49ersRoad8.5-1.65.19.71.2
5Arizona CardinalsDenver BroncosRoad9-0.35.790
2Jacksonville JaguarsWashington RedskinsRoad9-8-1.69.40.4
10Oakland RaidersDenver BroncosHome10-5.85.78.5-1.5
10Jacksonville JaguarsDallas CowboysLond10-80.58.5-1.5
3Minnesota VikingsNew Orleans SaintsRoad10-3.12.88.9-1.1
10New York GiantsSeattle SeahawksRoad10-0.369.3-0.7
5Minnesota VikingsGreen Bay PackersRoad10-3.13.89.9-0.1
12Miami DolphinsDenver BroncosRoad10-1.55.710.20.2
4Jacksonville JaguarsSan Diego ChargersRoad10-8-0.410.60.6
12Arizona CardinalsSeattle SeahawksRoad10.5-0.369.3-1.2
15Jacksonville JaguarsBaltimore RavensRoad10.5-80.411.40.9
9St. Louis RamsSan Francisco 49ersRoad11-25.110.1-0.9
9Jacksonville JaguarsCincinnati BengalsRoad11-81.112.11.1
1Jacksonville JaguarsPhiladelphia EaglesRoad11-81.312.31.3
14Buffalo BillsDenver BroncosRoad11.5-35.711.70.2
12Jacksonville JaguarsIndianapolis ColtsRoad12-81.112.10.1
3Oakland RaidersNew England PatriotsRoad13-5.83.212-1
9Oakland RaidersSeattle SeahawksRoad14.5-5.8614.80.3

Some thoughts:

  • The biggest outlier games are again in week 1; as Jason Lisk noted when he ran a similar study last year, the lines build in some risk of injury (or simply risk of not knowing what’s going to happen in the future): if Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning miss time with an injury, it’s more likely to be later in the season than in week one. Additionally, if Vegas feels more confident in the early games than the late games, that will lead to some games appearing as outliers in week 1.
  • The weirdest line of the season is Tennessee/Kansas City in week 1.  The Chiefs are only 5-point home favorites: that’s 2.1 points lower than we would expect given the location of the game and the ratings of Kansas City (+0.8) and Tennessee (-3.3).
  • As a reminder, here’s a link to the 2014 schedule grid I created; I did not assign 3 points to the home team in the three London games this year.
  • For the second straight year, the Seahawks are underdogs just once: the game in San Francisco. Denver is an underdog when it travels to Seattle and Foxboro, and every other team is a dog in at least three games.
  • Oakland and Jacksonville are underdogs in each of their 15 games. Considering Oakland travels to Denver in week 17, we can safely say the Raiders and Jags are projected underdogs in every game this year.
  1. Just to be clear, this analysis includes 3 points for each home team except in the London games, so these are more accurately thought of as location-adjusted expected margins of victory. []
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Belichick has an eye on the point spread.

Belichick has an eye on the point spread.

Last week at Five Thirty Eight, Nate Silver noted that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has produced an excellent record against the spread. He also checked in football’s version of Pop, Bill Belichick, and came to the same conclusion: Belichick hasn’t just been great, but he’s been great against the spread, too.

My database on point spreads goes back to 1978, so I went ahead and calculated the Against-The-Spread record of each head coach over the last 36 seasons. According to my numbers, Belichick has “covered” or won 40 more games against the spread than he’s lost, the most over this period.1  The table below shows the 122 men who  have coached at least 50 games or who were active in 2013.

Here’s how to read Belichick’s line: He has been coaching since 1991 (coaches who began before 1978 are included, but only their post-1977 seasons are counted (and only if they coached 50+ games since 1978)) and was last coaching in 2013. Over that time, he has coached in 332 games, including the post-season. His record against the spread is 182-142-8, which gives him a 0.562 winning percentage (ignoring ties).2 His real record is 218-114-0, which gives him a 0.657 winning percentage (again, including the playoffs). The table is sorted by the last category, which represents the difference beteween his number of wins against the spread and his number of losses against the spread. [click to continue…]

  1. My numbers differ slightly from Silver’s, although that’s not surprising. There is always some variation in point spread data, which is, of course, not official. []
  2. When calculating regular winning percentage, we treat ties as half-wins and half-losses.  In his article, Silver excluded ties from calculating ATS winning percentages. I don’t know what’s customary, but Silver’s method makes sense: in the event of a “push” all money is simply returns. []
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Comparing 2014 Vegas Projections to Estimated Wins

Three weeks ago, Vegas released the first set of 2014 win totals for all 32 teams. I immediately wondered how those win totals compare to the estimated wins I created based on 2013 DVOA ratings. I tweeted a request for someone to write such an article, and Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) was kind enough to oblige. Warren runs SharpFootballAnalysis.com, where he provides handicapping analysis.

One other note before I let Warren take over. If you missed the post on estimating team wins using DVOA, I included this disclaimer:

Even Football Outsiders won’t use these [projections] for more than a starting point — their preseason projections will have the customary tweaks for things like teams getting new quarterbacks, injuries (or the lack thereof) in 2013, rookies, offensive line continuity, etc.

Please keep that note in mind. So when you see “Football Outsiders projects Green Bay to win 7.8 games this year,” that’s just shorthand for “Green Bay’s 2013 offensive, defensive, and special teams ratings, when regressed based on historical data, project a 7.8-win season.” I’m sure with a healthy Aaron Rodgers, Football Outsiders expects more than 7.8 wins in 2013, but the regression formula is ignorant of that fact. And now, I’ll let Warren take over.


On March 7, CG Technology, formerly Cantor Gaming, became the first Las Vegas book to set win totals. For eight teams (25%), the win totals were within one half-game of the estimated DVOA projections: The two sources see eye to eye on Washington, Chicago, Cincinnati, Miami, Detroit, Dallas, Cleveland, and the New York Giants.

For 11 teams (34%), Las Vegas was more enthusiastic than DVOA was, i.e., the books projected higher win totals. The biggest outliers here were Green Bay (10 projected wins by CG vs 7.8 by DVOA) and Houston (8.5 vs 6.5). For Green Bay, we can presume that injuries were the biggest reason for the discrepancy: in addition to Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, and Casey Hayward all missed significant action. As for the Texans, my guess is that Vegas sees the Colts dropping back two wins from 2013, and the AFC South remains pretty poor.  Houston won 10 games in 2011 and 12 games a year ago, and now faces a pretty easy schedule (the rest of the division, Buffalo, Oakland, the AFC North and NFC East; note that last year, Houston had to face the AFC West, NFC West, New England, and Baltimore.) The Texans were also just 2-9 in games decided by seven or fewer points, a trend that is unlikely to continue.

For the remaining 13 teams (41%), Las Vegas projected fewer wins than DVOA. The two standouts in this category were Arizona (7.0 vs 8.6) and St. Louis (6.5 vs 8.0). As we’ll get to later, CG and Football Outsiders are in considerable disagreement about the fortunes of the NFC West teams.

In some cases, the borderline playoff teams are the most interesting to analyze. There were four teams that DVOA had at sub-.500 that the linemakers have in playoff contention: Green Bay, Houston, Pittsburgh (9.0 vs 7.7) and Baltimore (8.5 vs 7.3). Arizona was the only team in the opposite situation, where Las Vegas projects a losing record despite the DVOA estimates pointing towards a winning record.

The table below shows the numbers for all 32 teams. The Packers had 8.5 wins in 2013, Vegas has set Green Bay’s 2014 wins total at 10.0, and DVOA projects the Packers at 7.8 wins. Therefore, Vegas is 2.2 wins higher on Green Bay than DVOA, Vegas is 1.5 wins higher on Green Bay than the Packers’ 2013 result, and DVOA expects 0.7 fewer wins from Green Bay this year. [click to continue…]

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The prevailing view is that Vegas is an example of an efficient market. If there were obvious trends that oddsmakers ignored, it would be easy for people to make money gambling on football, and we know that’s not the case. But I thought it would be interesting to investigate some claims I’ve heard over the years, so I’m introducing the Efficient Vegas tag to Football Perspective.

One theory I’ve heard is that when good teams play bad teams, the smart money is to bet on the bad teams. That’s not because Vegas doesn’t know what it was doing, but that oddsmakers know that fans like to bet on good teams when they play bad ones. But is this true? Here is how I decided to test that question.

From 1990 to 2013, there were 792 games that met the following four criteria: [click to continue…]

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Why is the Over/Under So Low In Super Bowl XLVIII?

The Over/Under for Super Bowl XLVIII was just 48 points for most of the last week, although it went up to 48.5 on Thursday and may be at 49 by kickoff. In any event, such a low number should strike Broncos fans as really odd, since the average over/under in the team’s first 18 games was 53.4 points. And the “Over” has hit in 10 of those games!

Seattle, meanwhile, has had an average over/under of 42.8 points. As it turns out, the “Under” has hit in 12 of Seattle’s 18 games this season, including each of the last seven. Readers who are good at arithmetic might have already noticed that the average of 53.4 and 42.8 is 48.1 points.

The graph below shows the Over/Under in each game this season for Denver and Seattle:


[click to continue…]

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Earlier this week, I looked at how likely or unlikely the playoffs were in each of the last 25 seasons. Today, we look at each Super Bowl winner since 1978, and calculate their odds of winning each playoff game, and by extension, how likely (or unlikely) it was that that team wound up winning the Super Bowl.

As you might expect, no team was as unlikely to win the Super Bowl at the start of the playoffs as the 2007 New York Giants. If we know the points spread for a given game, we can derive the team’s probability of winning by using the following formula, assuming the spread (with a negative number for the favorite) is in cell C2 in Excel:

=(1-NORMDIST(0.5,-(C2),13.86,TRUE)) + 0.5*(NORMDIST(0.5,-(C2),13.86,TRUE)-NORMDIST(-0.5,-(C2),13.86,TRUE))

New York was a 3-point underdog in Tampa Bay in the Wildcard round (41.4%), a 7-point dog in Dallas (30.7%), and a 7.5-point underdog in Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game (29.4%). Then, in the Super Bowl against the 18-0 Patriots, the Giants were 12.5-point underdogs, implying an 18.4% chance of victory. The odds of New York winning all four of those games was less than one percent! I don’t think this was a case where the oddsmakers were off, either. Remember that in 2007, Eli Manning led the league in interceptions and the Giants were significantly worse in the regular season than Dallas, Green Bay, or New England. Even in retrospect, the Giants run was remarkable, but even unlikely events are likely to happen given a long enough time period. Of course, it sure seemed like unlikely events were becoming the norm in the playoffs, at least until 2013. [click to continue…]

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The 2013 Playoffs Were Not Very Random

In September 2012, Neil wrote that the NFL playoffs had become more random. And that was three months before Joe Flacco turned into Joe Montana. This year, however, feels like one of the least random playoffs in recent memory. And there’s a good reason for that: it is.

If you know the points spread for a game, you can derive the team’s probability of winning in Excel by using the following formula and typing the spread (with a negative number for the favorite) in cell C2:

=(1-NORMDIST(0.5,-(C2),13.86,TRUE)) + 0.5*(NORMDIST(0.5,-(C2),13.86,TRUE)-NORMDIST(-0.5,-(C2),13.86,TRUE))

Using that formula, the table below shows the winner of each game in the 2013 postseason, sorted in order of ascending pregame win probability.1 There was only one big upset this year, the Chargers victory in Cincinnati. Conversely, the least surprising outcome was San Diego’s loss in Denver the following week. [click to continue…]

  1. All points spread data from Pro-Football-Reference.com. []
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If you look at the Patriots’ PFR page, you’ll see that the Patriots are a 10-3team that’s played like an 8-5 team that has a 6-7 record against the spread. I wondered how often a team with such a good record was below average against the spread. The answer: pretty frequently. Which I suppose isn’t too surprising, since Vegas doesn’t like to make it so easy to win money that all you need to do is pick winners.

New England has mirrored its ancestors from 35 years ago, who also started 10-3 but posted a 7-6 record against the spread. The table below shows all teams from 1978 to 2012, excluding the strike years, to win at least 3 more games outright through 13 weeks than against the spread. In an expected turn of events, the top 4 teams on the list all made the Super Bowl in the prior year. That leads to being favored frequently, and if you win enough close games, you’ll make this list.
[click to continue…]

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New York Times: Post-Week 3, 2013

This week at the New York Times, I examine the disappointing San Francisco 49ers.

From the moment Coach Jim Harbaugh arrived in San Francisco in 2011, the 49ers have been one of the N.F.L.’s best teams.

In Harbaugh’s first two seasons, the 49ers ranked third in combined wins (24) and points differential (275), trailing only the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers in both categories. In those two seasons, San Francisco allowed 502 points, easily the fewest in the league. Even after losing in the Super Bowl in February, Harbaugh’s 49ers seemed poised to become the next dynasty. But after defeating the Packers in Week 1, San Francisco has been outscored, 56-10, in the last two weeks.

In Seattle, the 49ers were 3-point underdogs, and lost, 29-3. At home against the Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco was a 10 ½-point favorite, and lost by 20 points. For the season, San Francisco has fallen short of expectations — defined as the point spread in the game — by an average of 17.5 points a game (only the Giants, at 18.3 points, have been more disappointing). How have teams with similar expectations and results fared over the course of the rest of the season?

From 1990 to 2012, 14 teams have met three criteria: won at least 10 games in the previous year; on average, were favored to win the first three games of the next season; and failed to cover the spread by, on average, at least 10 points. On average, those teams won 12.5 games the previous season but just eight in the season in question, an indication that the slow start is a sign of mediocre things to come.

Team
Year
PF
PA
Spread
Difference
N-1 Record
Year N Rec
NOR200712.734.3-1-22.710-6-07-9-0
SFO201314.728-4.2-17.511-4-1--
DEN199913.725.7-2.3-14.314-2-06-10-0
STL20021725-5.5-13.514-2-07-9-0
NOR201227.734-6.8-13.213-3-07-9-0
PIT200215.724.3-4.2-12.813-3-010-5-1
NWE200816.319.3-9.2-12.216-0-011-5-0
CHI199215.726.3-1.5-12.211-5-05-11-0
KAN200420.728.7-3.8-11.813-3-07-9-0
TEN20011223.3-0.3-11.713-3-07-9-0
WAS20001719.7-8.8-11.510-6-08-8-0
CHI20071119.3-3-11.313-3-07-9-0
PHI20031120.3-1.3-10.712-4-012-4-0
ARI20101625.7-0.5-10.210-6-05-11-0
IND200817.322.3-5-1013-3-012-4-0

The 2001 St. Louis Rams and the 2006 Chicago Bears lost in the Super Bowl, then both finished 7-9 the next season. The 2006 New Orleans Saints made it to the N.F.C. championship game, then started 2007 with four losses, and finished 7-9. Three games is a small sample size for the 49ers, but last year’s success guarantees nothing but high expectations. And only one of those 14 teams — the 2007 Saints — fell as far short of expectations (as measured by points differential relative to the point spread) as this year’s 49ers.

There might be more hope for a turnaround if San Francisco’s struggles were contained: unfortunately for 49ers fans, the team has struggled in every aspect of the game. The biggest surprise has been the fall of a dominant rush defense.

Two years ago, the 49ers did not allow a rushing touchdown until the 15th game of the season; last year, three of the team’s four linebackers (Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis) were named first-team All-Pro by The Associated Press, as the run defense finished in the top five in rushing yards, yards per carry and touchdowns allowed.

This season, the 49ers have allowed six rushing touchdowns. The struggles are not just at the goal line: Harbaugh’s 49ers allowed 170 rushing yards just once in his first 38 games (including the postseason). But they have allowed more than that in back-to-back weeks this season against the Seattle Seahawks and the Colts.

You can read the entire article here.

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Favored to win or lose every game?

On Monday and Tuesday, I looked at the teams that had the longest streaks as either a favorite or an underdog. In the comments, James asked if I could put together a list of teams that were favored to win or lose every game in a single season.

Six teams — the ’98 Broncos, ’95 Cowboys, ’94 49ers, ’91 Redskins, ’84 49ers, and ’79 Steelers — were favorites in every game and won the Super Bowl. The ’97 49ers have the distinction of being the only team to be favored in every game during the regular season and be an underdog in the playoffs: that happened in the NFC Championship Game against the Packers.

In the table below, I’ve listed every team that was favored to win every regular season game since 1978, along with the average points spread, the team’s actual record, and their ranks in points and points allowed.

[click to continue…]

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Longest streaks as an underdog

Yesterday, I looked at the longest streaks as a favorite. The ’99 to ’02 Rams were the record holder, as the team was favored in an astounding 57 consecutive games. Unfortunately for the franchise, things weren’t so great in the post-Kurt Warner era. In fact, five years after that streak ended, the Rams started a new record-setting streak. Starting in week 14 of the 2007 season, St. Louis was an underdog in 43 consecutive games. The streak finally ended when the 2010 Rams hosted the 1-6 Carolina Panthers. Incredibly, 100 games of Rams history can be broken down into two really long streaks of greatness and futility.

The 43-game streak spanned six quarterbacks: Brock Berlin, Marc Bulger, Trent Green, Kyle Boller, Keith Null, and Sam Bradford. The table below shows the 20 longest streaks for all teams since 1978.
[click to continue…]

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Longest streaks as a favorite

The GSOT

The GSOT.

On its own, this week five game against San Francisco doesn’t stand out as anything special. The 0-4 Rams were traveling to San Francisco with Jamie Martin at quarterback, who led the team to just 10 points the previous week in Dallas after Kurt Warner broke his pinky finger. The 49ers were coming off of a bye week, and would send Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens to the Pro Bowl, while Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow led a top-six ground game. San Francisco should have, and did, win convincingly.

The reason that’s a notable game is precisely because the 49ers were six-point favorites. That marked the first time since week 2, 1999 — when the Rams had not yet been recognized as the Greatest Show on Turf — that St. Louis was not favored to win a game. For the final 14 regular season games and the three playoff games in 1999, all seventeen games in 2000, all 19 games in 2001, and the first four games in 2002 — a stretch of 57 straight games — the Rams took the field as favorites. That’s the longest streak since 1978, and perhaps ever. And I’m not sure if this makes that fact more of less impressive, but all things considered, the Rams’ record wasn’t that great during the stretch. Part of the reason for the streak was that St. Louis generally had a weak schedule those years, but continually being favored to win games without a great record is an interesting (and rare) sign of respect.

Team
Streak
Year Start
Year End
Record
Streak Ender
STL571999200240-17-0 vs. SFO
SFO391984198630-9-0 vs. MIA
DAL361981198326-10-0 vs. SFO
PIT351978198026-9-0 vs. HOU
SFO341989199029-5-0 vs. NYG
CHI331985198728-5-0 vs. DEN
SFO291991199324-5-0 vs. DAL
SFO281994199521-7-0 vs. DAL
WAS281991199223-5-0 vs. KAN
DAL271993199423-4-0 vs. SFO
DAL231995199616-7-0 vs. PHI
GNB211997199816-5-0 vs. MIN
DEN211998199917-4-0 vs. TAM
NWE202007200819-1-0 vs. NYJ

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NFL Futures

I’m in Las Vegas, and thought I would solicit suggestions before placing bets.

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Steve Johnson doesn't care about the NFL schedule

Steve Johnson doesn't care about the NFL schedule.

Chris Brown of buffalobills.com is not happy with the way the Bills’ schedule shakes out. Again. Last year, this is what Brown wrote after examining the 2012 schedule:

After playing what is expected to be a physical contest with the 49ers in San Francisco in Week 5 [Chase: In retrospect, not that physical], the Bills then face the Cardinals in Arizona in Week 6. The Cards will have the benefit of three extra days of prep time for Buffalo as their Week 5 game is on Thursday night.

The very next week when the Bills play host to Tennessee, the Titans will also have three extra days of prep time for Buffalo because they’re playing on Thursday night the previous week (Week 6) as well.

The Bills look to get a break as they’ll have a bye week in Week 8 to get two weeks to prep for the Texans in Houston. But that extra prep time will be a wash because Houston also has their bye in Week 8.

Finally while the Bills are battling the Texans in Houston, the Patriots will be on their couches watching at home while their head coach grinds tape for two weeks to prepare for the Bills who travel to New England in Week 10 as the Pats have their bye in Week 9.

Brown’s claims were accurate: Buffalo did face a team coming off extra rest (i.e., more than eight days) four times in five weeks. Of course, those were the only times all season the Bills played a team coming off extra rest. Still, if we look at the 2012 season, it’s fair to say the Bills got the short end of the scheduling stick.

But they don’t have the biggest beef. Philadelphia faced four teams coming off bye weeks last year, tying the ’09 Falcons, ’05 Chargers, ’03 Cowboys, and ’99 Chargers for facing the most teams coming off a bye week since 1994.
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Implied SRS Ratings of each NFL Team

On Wednesday, Jason Lisk came up with a set of power rankings based on the point spread for nearly every game this season (spreads for the games in the final week of the season have not yet been released).

We can use the SRS to come up with the implied ratings for each team (this is what Lisk did, although I don’t think he used the SRS). So how do we come up with the SRS ratings? The point spread in each game provides an implied strength margin (“ISM”) between the two teams: When the Jaguars are 14-point underdogs in Denver, that implies that Denver is 11 points better than Jacksonville. If we treat each ISM like we would margin of victory, then we can use the SRS to come up with team ratings. For those who need a primer on what the SRS is, you can read about it here; the rest of you can skip to the ratings:
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Super Bowl XLVII Prop Bets

I don’t advocate betting on football games and neither does Football Perspective. However, as a person who spends lot of time trying to measure events that are difficult to measure, as an academic exercise, I find this list of Super Bowl Prop bets pretty interesting.

MVP and First to Score a Touchdown Odds

SUPER BOWL XLVII – Odds to Win MVP?

Colin Kaepernick (SF) QB 7/4
Joe Flacco (BAL) QB 11/4
Frank Gore (SF) RB 7/1
Ray Lewis (BAL) LB 7/1
Ray Rice (BAL) RB 10/1
Michael Crabtree (SF) WR 14/1
Anquan Boldin (BAL) WR 16/1
Vernon Davis (SF) TE 18/1
Torrey Smith (BAL) WR 20/1
Ed Reed (BAL) FS 33/1
Aldon Smith (SF) LB 40/1
Dennis Pitta (BAL) TE 40/1
Randy Moss (SF) WR 40/1
Patrick Willis (SF) LB 50/1
Terrell Suggs (BAL) LB 50/1
Dashon Goldson (SF) FS 66/1
David Akers (SF) K 66/1
LaMichael James (SF) RB 66/1
NaVorro Bowman (SF) LB 66/1
Bernard Pierce (BAL) RB 75/1
Justin Tucker (BAL) K 75/1
Ted Ginn Jr. (SF) WR 75/1
Alex Smith (SF) QB 100/1
Delanie Walker (SF) TE 100/1
Field 22/1

Player to score the first TD in the game?

Frank Gore (SF) RB 13/2
Ray Rice (BAL) RB 15/2
Michael Crabtree (SF) WR 15/2
Anquan Boldin (BAL) WR 8/1
Colin Kaepernick (SF) QB 8/1
Vernon Davis (SF) TE 9/1
Torrey Smith (BAL) WR 10/1
Dennis Pitta (BAL) TE 12/1
Randy Moss (SF) WR 12/1
Delanie Walker (SF) TE 18/1
Bernard Pierce (BAL) RB 20/1
Ed Dickson (BAL) TE 25/1
Jacoby Jones (BAL) WR 25/1
Joe Flacco (BAL) QB 30/1
Vonta Leach (BAL) FB 33/1
Ed Reed (BAL) FS 33/1
Anthony Dixon (SF) RB 33/1
Ted Ginn Jr. (SF) WR 33/1
Ray Lewis (BAL) LB 50/1
Field 17/2
No TD scored in the game 75/1
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Super Bowl History

Now that the Super Bowl matchup is set, I thought I’d start the two-week period with some Super Bow history. The table below lists some information from each of the first 46 Super Bowls. With Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick facing off, that ends five-year streak where at least one of the two quarterbacks in the Super Bowl had previously won (or been in) a Super Bowl:

Year
SB
Winner
PF
Loser
PA
Location
ST
QB
Opp QB
MVP
2011XLVINew York Giants21New England Patriots17IndianapolisINEli ManningTom BradyEli Manning
2010XLVGreen Bay Packers31Pittsburgh Steelers25ArlingtonTXAaron RodgersBen RoethlisbergerAaron Rodgers
2009XLIVNew Orleans Saints31Indianapolis Colts17MiamiFLDrew BreesPeyton ManningDrew Brees
2008XLIIIPittsburgh Steelers27Arizona Cardinals23TampaFLBen RoethlisbergerKurt WarnerSantonio Holmes
2007XLIINew York Giants17New England Patriots14GlendaleAZEli ManningTom BradyEli Manning
2006XLIIndianapolis Colts29Chicago Bears17MiamiFLPeyton ManningRex GrossmanPeyton Manning
2005XLPittsburgh Steelers21Seattle Seahawks10DetroitMIBen RoethlisbergerMatt HasselbeckHines Ward
2004XXIXNew England Patriots24Philadelphia Eagles21JacksonvilleFLTom BradyDonovan McNabbDeion Branch
2003XXXVIIINew England Patriots32Carolina Panthers29HoustonTXTom BradyJake DelhommeTom Brady
2002XXXVIITampa Bay Buccaneers48Oakland Raiders21San DiegoCABrad JohnsonRich GannonDexter Jackson
2001XXXVINew England Patriots20St. Louis Rams17New OrleansLATom BradyKurt WarnerTom Brady
2000XXXVBaltimore Ravens34New York Giants7TampaFLTrent DilferKerry CollinsRay Lewis
1999XXXIVSt. Louis Rams23Tennessee Titans16AtlantaGAKurt WarnerSteve McNairKurt Warner
1998XXXIIIDenver Broncos34Atlanta Falcons19MiamiFLJohn ElwayChris ChandlerJohn Elway
1997XXXIIDenver Broncos31Green Bay Packers24San DiegoCAJohn ElwayBrett FavreTerrell Davis
1996XXXIGreen Bay Packers35New England Patriots21New OrleansLABrett FavreDrew BledsoeDesmond Howard
1995XXXDallas Cowboys27Pittsburgh Steelers17TempeAZTroy AikmanNeil O'DonnellLarry Brown
1994XXIXSan Francisco 49ers49San Diego Chargers26MiamiFLSteve YoungStan HumphriesSteve Young
1993XXVIIIDallas Cowboys30Buffalo Bills13AtlantaGATroy AikmanJim KellyEmmitt Smith
1992XXVIIDallas Cowboys52Buffalo Bills17PasadenaCATroy AikmanJim KellyTroy Aikman
1991XXVIWashington Redskins37Buffalo Bills24MinneapolisMNMark RypienJim KellyMark Rypien
1990XXVNew York Giants20Buffalo Bills19TampaFLJeff HostetlerJim KellyOttis Anderson
1989XXIVSan Francisco 49ers55Denver Broncos10New OrleansLAJoe MontanaJohn ElwayJoe Montana
1988XXIIISan Francisco 49ers20Cincinnati Bengals16MiamiFLJoe MontanaBoomer EsiasonJerry Rice
1987XXIIWashington Redskins42Denver Broncos10San DiegoCADoug WilliamsJohn ElwayDoug Williams
1986XXINew York Giants39Denver Broncos20PasadenaCAPhil SimmsJohn ElwayPhil Simms
1985XXChicago Bears46New England Patriots10New OrleansLAJim McMahonTony EasonRichard Dent
1984XIXSan Francisco 49ers38Miami Dolphins16StanfordCAJoe MontanaDan MarinoJoe Montana
1983XVIIILos Angeles Raiders38Washington Redskins9TampaFLJim PlunkettJoe TheismannMarcus Allen
1982XVIIWashington Redskins27Miami Dolphins17PasadenaCAJoe TheismannDavid WoodleyJohn Riggins
1981XVISan Francisco 49ers26Cincinnati Bengals21PontiacMIJoe MontanaKen AndersonJoe Montana
1980XVOakland Raiders27Philadelphia Eagles10New OrleansLAJim PlunkettRon JaworskiJim Plunkett
1979XIVPittsburgh Steelers31Los Angeles Rams19PasadenaCATerry BradshawVince FerragamoTerry Bradshaw
1978XIIIPittsburgh Steelers35Dallas Cowboys31MiamiFLTerry BradshawRoger StaubachTerry Bradshaw
1977XIIDallas Cowboys27Denver Broncos10New OrleansLARoger StaubachCraig MortonRandy White1
1976XIOakland Raiders32Minnesota Vikings14PasadenaCAKen StablerFran TarkentonFred Biletnikoff
1975XPittsburgh Steelers21Dallas Cowboys17MiamiFLTerry BradshawRoger StaubachLynn Swann
1974IXPittsburgh Steelers16Minnesota Vikings6New OrleansLATerry BradshawFran TarkentonFranco Harris
1973VIIIMiami Dolphins24Minnesota Vikings7HoustonTXBob GrieseFran TarkentonLarry Csonka
1972VIIMiami Dolphins14Washington Redskins7Los AngelesCABob GrieseBilly KilmerJake Scott
1971VIDallas Cowboys24Miami Dolphins3New OrleansLARoger StaubachBob GrieseRoger Staubach
1970VBaltimore Colts16Dallas Cowboys13MiamiFLJohnny UnitasCraig MortonChuck Howley
1969IVKansas City Chiefs23Minnesota Vikings7New OrleansLALen DawsonJoe KappLen Dawson
1968IIINew York Jets16Baltimore Colts7MiamiFLJoe NamathEarl MorrallJoe Namath
1967IIGreen Bay Packers33Oakland Raiders14MiamiFLBart StarrDaryle LamonicaBart Starr
1966IGreen Bay Packers35Kansas City Chiefs10Los AngelesCABart StarrLen DawsonBart Starr

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  1. Co-MVP with Harvey Martin []
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A guide to Saturday’s games

The game of the day is in Tuscaloosa, as the #4 team in the SRS tries to ruin the perfect season of the best team in the country. Here’s a look at the weekly results for Alabama and Texas A&M, sorted from highest to lowest SRS score:

Date
Team
PF
Opp
PA
H/R
W/L
Diff
MOV
SOS
SRS
09-15-2012Alabama52Arkansas0RoadWin5239.542.782.2
09-01-2012Alabama41Michigan14Arlington TXWin2725.551.877.3
09-29-2012Texas A&M58Arkansas10HomeWin4834.542.777.2
10-13-2012Alabama42Missouri10RoadWin3229.547.376.8
09-15-2012Texas A&M48SMU3RoadWin453638.674.6
10-27-2012Alabama38Mississippi St7HomeWin312647.773.7
11-03-2012Texas A&M38Mississippi St13RoadWin252647.773.7
10-20-2012Alabama44Tennessee13RoadWin312944.773.7
10-27-2012Texas A&M63Auburn21RoadWin4234.537.672.1
09-08-2012Alabama35Western Kentucky0HomeWin352839.867.8
11-03-2012Alabama21LSU17RoadWin4757.164.1
09-29-2012Alabama33Mississippi14HomeWin191647.163.1
09-22-2012Alabama40Florida Atlantic7HomeWin332729.456.4
09-08-2012Texas A&M17Florida20HomeLoss-3-761.854.8
10-13-2012Texas A&M59Louisiana Tech57Shreveport LAWin2747.554.5
10-06-2012Texas A&M30Mississippi27RoadWin3747.154.1
09-22-2012Texas A&M70South Carolina St14HomeWin5638.514.553
10-20-2012Texas A&M19LSU24HomeLoss-5-857.149.1

Both teams blew out Arkansas in September and then embarrassed Mississippi State the last two weeks. Both Alabama and Texas A&M played their worst games of the year against LSU. The Aggies are a 13.5-point underdog, and it seems absurd to think that college football’s version of what it would look like if the Eagles and Chargers could have a baby could upend the mighty Crimson Tide, but it’s November. That generally means expect the unexpected.

Louisville @ Syracuse

The Cardinals look to keep their dream season alive in what looks to be an easy matchup on paper. Louisville is 9-0 and Syracuse is 4-5, so this should be a gimme, right? Except in Vegas, the line is just Syracuse -1.5. Many college football fans are calling this the oddest line of the week, but fans of the SRS would disagree. The SRS is predictive and doesn’t care about your record; it is intended to tell us how well teams will play in the future, and as a result, often mirrors the point spread in a game. Well, the SRS says Louisville should be favored by just 2.4 points despite the much more impressive record. You can view every college football game score here, which helps explain why Syracuse isn’t the pushover you might expect them to be. Syracuse has lost just one home game this season, a 42-41 game against Northwestern that ended in controversial fashion. Against the other cream of the conference, the Orange lost on the road by 8 against Rutgers and 11 against Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Louisville beat Cincinnati at home by 3, and defeated North Carolina two months ago, but otherwise, doesn’t have any impressive wins on its resume. And it was only three weeks ago that Louisville was trailing in the final two minutes, at home, to South Florida. The Cardinals have played just three road games this season, against teams that are a combined 6-22. I think Vegas has this line appropriately placed; it’s close to a toss-up game, although I’d obviously favor the Cardinals.
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