An NFL contest

So I enjoy sports, and I enjoy numbers. So if you enjoy neither of those things, this may be a blog post you should just go ahead and skip. If only I could make this post about maps too then it would be like the pefect post. Anyways, the folks over at pro-football-reference.com are sponsoring a contest for this upcoming NFL season. They have sponsored several similar contests in the past, and the thing I like about them is that in addition to some football knowledge (and luck), they also require a bit of thinking.

The gist of this contest is that there are 38 questions. For each of the 38, you have to pick one of the 2 choices. Whoever gets the most right at the end of the season “wins” (no real prize just honor and glory).

So for example, the first one is

Number of wins by the Texans
Number of wins by the Panthers

So you just pick which one you think will be higher. From there, it gets a little more crazy like

Number of rushing yards by LaDainian Tomlinson
Number of combined passing yards by all 49er players EXCEPT FOR the week one starting QB.

Full rules and such are over at the contest page

I thought that I would use this post to kind of detail my reasoning behind my picks / entry. First of all, I thought I’d find a site where they run a bunch of season simulations. Of course there is one. I also did a compilation of the 37 entries posted so far, just to get an idea of the conventional wisdom from people that are probably following the NFL season a bit more than me. I also grabbed the data over at p-f-r to help me answer a few questions as to how likely some things were.

So, let’s go
1. Whatifsports has the Panthers with 10 wins and the Texans with 6 – good enough for me
2. Cowboys with 12 and Jaguars with 10
3. Browns with 10, Packers with 9
4. Lions with 6, Ravens with 5
5. Redskins with 9, Cardinals with 6 – good enough for me
6. Giants with 11, Saints with 8 – good enough
7. Chargers with 11, Raiders with 6 and Falcons with 5. I will go with the Chargers. I looked at the simulation data, where it lists for each team its expected winning percentage for each game. I ran a bunch of simulations with random numbers in Excel on that and it told me that the Chargers had 11.3 expected wins, with a 1.63 standard deviation, the Raiders with 5.6 wins and 1.63 st. dev, and the Falcons with 4.9 wins and a 1.73 standard deviation. Using that data, it is about a 61% chance for the Chargers.
8. It’s almost certain that the team with the most wins will have somewhere around 13 wins. So whereas in question 7, you had some downside with the Chargers (if they underperform), here SOMEONE is going to have the most wins. If the Patriots go in the crapper, maybe it’s the Jaguars, or the Colts, or the Cowboys, or whoever. Rams and 49ers are projected with 5 and 8 wins. Using the calculated percentages in each game, I get 5.4 and 8.0. Taking the top 6 teams (projected at 13, 12, 11, 11, 11, and 11), and running them through 1000 random simulations, it gives about a 67% odds that one of them will have more than 13.4 wins.
9. Continuing on that vein, since the last place team in the AFC south is unnamed and undetermined, my gut would go with the Bears. Doing the individual game sims drops them from 6 to 5.4 expected wins. The Texans are at 6.4 and Titans at 7.1. That makes it about 58% chance for the AFC South team
10. The Bills home probabilities are 34, 71, 27, 69, 34, 47, 74, 21. The Colts road probabilities are 61, 83, 68, 84, 67, 65, 55, 66. That projects to 3.8 Bills home wins and 5.5 Colts road wins – Colts it is.
11. For the NFC West I get 5.4, 8.0, 7.4, and 10.4 (total of 31 wins). For the AFC West I get 11.3, 7.3, 5.6, and 3.8 (28 wins) – NFC West. I note that this has gone 32-5 for the AFC in the submitted responses so far.

Okay now we get away from the total wins and on to the more “odd” ones

12. The quarterbacks in the 2008 NFL draft (that have any chance to start) are: Matt Ryan (should start all 16?), Joe Flacco (is starting at least the opener), Chad Henne (listed as the backup). Simulation has Pennington with 11 TDs and Clemens with 8. I’m going to go with the 2008 QBs
13. While Randy Moss is really good, I think it more likely he will return to a “normal” range of 12-14 TDs so I will go with the group
14. In 2007, there were 56 players that had a 100 yard rush. There were 49 in 2006. Last year Harrington had a 69 yard pass and Redman had a 74 yarder (not clear if those were TDs). I will go with the Falcons.
15. Here you’re guessing on how long JT O’Sullivan will last. LDT should gain at least 1200-1300 yards or so. Though I’m a bit concerned about Tomlinson getting injured since he is getting older, I will go with him, banking on O’Sullivan being super awesome :-)
16. In a homer pick, I’m going with Cribbs
17. Simulation has Bush with 4 rec TDs and Young with 2 Rushing – Bush.
18. Here you have to bank on futility AND longevity. I will go with Warner as I think Pennington has more of a chance to get injured / demoted
19. Peterson is probably good for 15 TDs or so. The sim on the closest loss for the Chiefs is 10 points (they’re picked to lose every game individually though they’ll (probably) win some of them). I go with ADP
20. Sim has the top QBs at 2.4 TDs per game or about 38-39. I can’t see the Ravens ever scoring that much. Sim has them averaging 20 points per game with a 3.8 st. dev.
21. Sim has Westbrook and Jackson at 186 ypg and the trio at 248 – seems obvious, though I again am in the minority at 28-9 on already submitted responses.
22. The “elite” TEs should be around 90 catches, and I think between the other trio, they will have 1-2 games over 100.
23. Seems like selecting the max of a lesser group has better odds than the min of a “better” group since you only need EITHER one good season by one of your 4 guys OR one bad season by one of the other 4.
24. Likely / Possible Top 10 rushers born in the 70s: Tomlinson, Westbrook, Jamal Lewis, E. James, Taylor, T. Jones, L. Johnson. I figure 4 or 5 QBs will pass for 32 (Sim projects 4). I like that better than those RBs
25. Both Orton and Croyle stink but I will guess Croyle.
26. Sim has James with 11 TDs which will be much more than Kris Brown misses.
27. Battle of my fantasy football keepers – Sim has Edwards at 1400 yards and Johnson with 1140. Especially given Johnson has an injury history and no remaining offensive line I will take Edwards.
28. Sim has 15 TDs for Barber and 20 sacks for Williams.
29. The champs for 2007 were: NWE, PIT, IND, SDI, DAL, GBP, TAM, SEA. I’d say NWE, IND, SDI and DAL are all good bets to repeat, with outside shots from the other 4, so I will go with the same.
30. Can’t be more than 4 or 5 playoff games decided by 7 or more points (there are only 11 total games anyways) so I will go with the group – especially since I only need ONE of them to get lucky and score a few TDs
31. In 2007, 5 visitors won playoff games, 2 in 2006, 6 in 2005, 4 in 2004, 4 in 2003. I’ll go with Brees who is probably good for at least a 4 TD game if not 5.
32. Gotta go with the Pats
33. Gonna go with the Cowboys / Giants
34. Guessing AFC
35. All hail the Patriots.
36. Ditto
37. Judging from projections, the max of this group will be about 30-35, so I’ll go with points in the Super Bowl
38. I figure 1 maybe 2 double digit losses for the Cowboys – so it seems likely we’ll have more ints than that.

=============

Well that was some rambling. We shall see how I do.

1. Panthers 10, Texans 6
2. Cowboys 12, Jaguars 10
3. Browns 10, Packers 9
4. Lions 6, Ravens 5
5. Redskins 9, Cardinals 6
6. Giants 11, Saints 8
7. Chargers 11, Raiders 6, Falcons 5
8. Rams 5, 49ers 8, Most (13)
9. Bears 6, AFC South (Texans – 6)
10. AFC West (28), NFC West (28)

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Comments (6) left to “An NFL contest”

  1. Carolyn wrote:

    consider it skipped!

  2. Braden wrote:

    Two things I love are numbers and sports.

    One thing I don’t know very much about are NFL players.

    Therefore I used a highly specific and specialized selection method for this contest. I like to call it Chaos Theory Applied.

    Medics like to call it a SWAG (scientific wild-butt guess).

    I looked at each question, took at least 2 but no more than 10 seconds to determine what I knew about the situation involving the teams/players involved, and deleted one of the answers. This left me with a list of 38 answers that is sure to win the prize.

    Of course, I could not leave it at that.

    I wrote my answers down and then compared them with yours and found that we agree on 17 answers, making a 45% compatibility rating (which would seem to pass the coin-toss test). Further, it is interesting that between questions 10 and 18, we agree on 8 of the 9 possibilities and between questions 26 and 30 we agree on all 5. This means that in those ranges we agree 93% of the time and on all the rest of the questions we agree 17% of the time.

    Of course you are wrong on number 36, as the Seahawks are sure to win the superbowl this year.

    Sorry.

  3. Anonymous wrote:

    Im in Ur Blog, Littern Ur Comments…

    I finally found you online… There’s no stopping me now!

    Brian K.

    PS do you keep in touch with anyone from HS anymore?

  4. dan wrote:

    Ahhhh the Seahawks. As a kid growing up in Portland, the Seahawks were my favorite team for quite some time. The glory days of Dave Krieg and Curt Warner and Steve Largent.

    For a time (and probably to the current day for lack of anyone since then), John L. Williams was my favorite NFL player.

  5. dan wrote:

    Hey Brian – what’s up. I keep in touch with Jay and Jim and Jeff B. mostly. I’m also in a fantasy sports league with Scott and Ben and Andy (along with the 3 Js above)

    Oddly enough I was in N.O. just the other day and while walking down the street near the Marathon at Porter / Butternut / Lorain and just happened to run into Andy Bruening with his 2 kids :-)

  6. THE PEOPLE MUST HAVE THEIR DAN MILLER » Blog Archive » 2008 college football bowl contest wrote:

    [...] It is the annual bowl contest sponsored by pro-football-reference.com. Here is the contest page (picks due this Saturday before the first game) as well as last year’s contest and their NFL contest from earlier this year (here’s the explanation of my picks to the NFL contest) [...]

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