What the Data Saw: NFL Week Three

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The Model’s Day

The model had seven sides this week, six of which are complete. The model went 3-3 in those games. Two of those games were highlighted in my preview but both were unplayable at the time of publication due to line movements. Of the two, one remains to be l=played tomorrow night. The other, Cincinnati plus 4.5, covered. 

I made two personal player prop suggestions this week from the New Orleans v New England Game. I suggested that you take a Winston no interceptions side at +160, and a Jone yes interception side at +112. Both of those props hit for +2.72 units today. 

Those props are NOT included in the model’s numbers below. In addition, both of the survivor pool suggestions I offered on Instagram, including the contrarian Saints, won outright. 

The gauges below break down the model’s performance to date. After a hot start to the season, the model has come back down into its expected performance range. Currently, it is 61.11% against the spread. 

The Most Improbable Scores of the Day:

We have The Catch. The Shot. The Dunk. The Block. The stage isn’t similar, but this is now The Kick. Unbelievable. Justin Tucker gives good leg. (I can only imagine how much money swung on moneyline parlays as the ball bounced off the crossbar. Millions^2 changed hands) 

And that caused this…

And then there is this… 

And lastly this…

No, not the best call. The Cowboys under Parcells made an eerily similar call in their playoff loss to Seattle on January 6, 2007. It also resulted in a safety. The ball travels almost 30 yards in the air, but parallel to the line of scrimmage at the goal line! It is a terrible, terrible call. 

McVey – Stafford 3  Doubters 0

I have been a vocal backer of the Rams. I faded them this week, and McVey and Stafford put the screws to me and the Buccaneers. McVey had been holding a lot of his playbook back in the first two games. What we saw this afternoon was ridiculous. Those throws Stafford made today, are the throws that Goff could not make. The game plan was masterful, and Stafford looked like an MVP. 

Tampa Bay’s defense struglled yet again. Dallas and the Falcons had both scored with relative ease on the unit. The Rams tore them apart. 

This is Mindnumbing 

I watched an NFL pregame show for the first time in a decade today. The first thing that struck me was wow these guys care a great deal about things that do not exist, let alone matter. I will not even mention Ryan because he is too easy of a mark. Matt Hassleback stated his belief that Baltimore would win the AFC North because “Lamar Jackson literally, literally (Yes he said it twice) put his team on his back last week.” 

Uh, no, he didn’t. That would be impossible. He has 52 teammates at an average weight of 246 pounds. That equates to 12,792 pounds. I have heard of mothers lifting automobiles off their children after an accident. I have never heard of a man carrying 12,792 pounds. If he did “literally, literally” put the team on his back, it would violate every rule in the game. Who would snap him the ball, for fucks sake? How would he cover the receivers on defense? There would be too many men on the field, every play. 

Of course, he was speaking in hyperbole, but why use the word “literally,” twice no less, when he does not mean literally. Maybe he believes using the word twice negates its meaning? Maybe he is ESPN’s equivalent of Jimmy Two Times from Goodfellas? The thing is, we have a word for what Hassleback is trying to say, figuratively. It “literally” means the nonsense he is trying to convey. 

Second, what kind of analysis is he providing? He is stating something that is not true and would not matter if it was, to explain his view of the NFL season. Why not talk about what Jackson “literally” did last week to win the game? He “literally” did some unbelievable things to help his team win. This comes to mind…

As does this…

Using language improperly, twice, only to make a generalized point that tells the listener nothing about Lamar’s actual greatness, is nonsense. It detracts from Lamar. It cheapens his performance. It is uninformative, irrelevant, and demonstrably inaccurate.

Quarterback Re-draft

I wrote an article recently about Houston’s prospects for trading Watson. In the article, I pointed out that only two teams in the league would not be interested, the Chiefs and the Chargers. I just hope everyone is watching how outstanding this kid from Oregon is playing. 

If I owned an expansion team, and the league gave me the choice of poaching any quarterback I wanted to start my team, it would be a two person decision between Herbert and Mahomes. And since he is on a rookie deal still, I would probably take Herbert. I could not reasonably debate any other player. Brady and Rodgers are too old. Wilson would get some consideration I suppose, but not much. 

Joshua: Would you like to play a game?

Joshua: How about Global Thermol Nuclear War?

In the iconic 1983 movie War Games the world is taken to Defecon 1 and the brink of global destruction by Joshua – a computer program.  I wrote about Allen last week and indicated Buffalo was at Defcon 3 with their own Joshua. Well, Joshua showed up at Norad today and reset the table:

His performance was every bit as good as his numbers suggest. He will have to show consistency, but this is the Allen that makes Buffalo a contender. 

I was on Washington plus 9, so I was disappointed to see this be his “get-right” game. I published an article on Saturday reducing each game to two questions in the model’s mind. I did this so that anyone tailing my plays could see very early on if they need to escape the position. Specifically, I stated:

“One advantage of using a model is the model tells me what to expect throughout the game. Thus, I can generally tell very early on if the game is falling in line with the model projections by using more than the score alone. I can tell by the game plan early in the first quarter. This allows me the opportunity to double down or hedge my way out of positions through in-game betting.”

Here were the two questions on Buffalo and Washington: 

The answers were no and I hope everyone bought out of their position. 

About the author:

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I write about data and sports. I created my first model in 1997 using nothing more than Excel. Currently, I have data-driven models for the NFL, NBA, and World Cup Soccer.

Mathematics is the music of reason.
— James Joseph Sylvester, English mathematician

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