Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2011-12-07: 2011 NFL Season Week 14

Week 14 of the 2011 NFL season is upon us. Talk of play-off teams and Superbowl probabilities fill the airwaves even more than Christmas music. Sitting in traffic on the drive home from work tonight I was listening to a few on-air personalities discussing Green Bay and New England for the Superbowl. Green Bay has already clinched a playoff berth and many people would say they are headed to the Superbowl this year. The comment that caught my attention was that the defense for both teams was terrible this year and the only reason they were doing well this year is that their offenses were so good that they could "outscore their mistakes".

This led me to think about the Colts without Peyton Manning this year. For the past 3 or 4 years the Colts with Manning as their quarterback have dominated the sport. It would seem that they built the entire team around Manning. The Colts would run up the score on offense and then the opposing team would be forced to attempt to pass often just to catch up. Then the Colts defense would focus on the opposing teams quarterback to keep him from making plays. Now this year without Manning the Colts have no game. Are Green Bay and New England in a similar situation?

Contemplating statistics during rush hour traffic is a good way to become a statistic so I did not get much more in depth listening to the show, but after arriving home I ran some SQL queries to check the veracity of the claims made by the radio show.

Indeed it is true that the defense for both Green Bay and New England have given up more than the average number of yards this year. They are both almost dead last in defensive performance. Here is a list of the teams with the average number of yards given up per play on both passing and rushing plays.


Team
Yards given up per play
Atlanta
4.3638
Pittsburgh
4.7886
Baltimore
4.8224
Houston
4.9090
Cincinnati
5.1182
San Francisco
5.1645
New York
5.1786
Cleveland
5.2142
Jacksonville
5.2292
Seattle
5.3491
Tennessee
5.3568
Washington
5.4359
Detroit
5.5313
Arizona
5.5506
Miami
5.5726
Denver
5.6300
Kansas City
5.6887
Chicago
5.6887
Oakland
5.7423
Dallas
5.7464
San Diego
5.7867
Minnesota
5.8281
St. Louis
5.8436
Indianapolis
5.8923
Philadelphia
6.0145
Buffalo
6.0374
New York
6.0508
New Orleans
6.0600
Carolina
6.3130
New England
6.3642
Tampa Bay
6.4829
Green Bay
6.5041

I have a feeling that a team with a balanced offense and a good pass defense like Pittsburgh or Baltimore could give New England and/or Green Bay a tough time in the post season but maybe we will cover that next week.

The predictions for week 14 are:

Favorite Spread Underdog Discrete Pagerank
at PIT 9 CLE PIT PIT
at BAL 7 IND BAL BAL
HOU 5 at CIN CIN HOU
at GB 15 OAK GB GB
at NYJ 7 KC NYJ NYJ
at DET 7 MIN DET DET
NO 2 at TEN NO TEN
PHI 9 at MIA PHI PHI
NE 15 at WAS NE NE
ATL 4 at CAR ATL ATL
at JAX 5 TB TB JAX
SF 3 at ARI SF SF
DEN 2 CHI DEN CHI
at SD 12 BUF SD BUF
at DAL 3 NYG DAL DAL
at SEA 4 STL SEA SEA


-- Greg Szalkowski

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