Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Great season for the NFL

After decades of finishing right at .500, the NFL is finally expected to right the ship and post a winning record.....against itself. Now I know that not every jackass columnist working at ESPN has taken a statistics or economics course, but evidently Jeffri Chadiha is unaware of the concept of a zero-sum game. Namely, both teams can't win.

Of course, this wouldn't matter if he actually looked at the teams' respective schedules and predicted who will win a given game. This approach would be called "analysis". Mr. Chadiha, instead, glanced at the teams' records at the midway point and decided that a good team will win x games, a bad team will win y games, no one will go winless, the Vikings will magically finish 7-9, and somehow the Raiders and Chiefs will combine for 8 wins in the second half. This is known as the "blind-folded two-year-old throwing darts at a number line" approach, or the "pulling numbers out of his ass" approach. Take a minute to understand the magnitude of this. He's getting paid to analyze teams and have some idea of who's more likely to win. He isn't just being dumb, he's not even doing his job.

However, before we let the issue drop, I thought I'd highlight some of the true gems embedded in this article:

The Panthers:
"This offense has second-half disaster written all over it.
Prediction: 7-9."
A 7-9 disaster.

The Niners:
"Surprise: Rookie linebacker Patrick Willis leads the NFL in tackles. After that, there really hasn't been much to smile about around the 49ers.
Disappointment: What happened to their running game? Frank Gore made the Pro Bowl last season. This year he has 435 yards at midseason.
Prediction: 6-10."
Anyone who thinks the Niners will DOUBLE their first half wins (2) with 4 in the second, raise your hand. Really? No one? Even though the wins they've got so far have been amazingly fluky?

Anyone think Minnesota will go .500 the rest of the way?

Think the NFC East will combine for 41 wins? That's more than 10 per team, and 20 more than they have now. A combined 10 games against division opponents, means 5 wins, assuming no ties. So they have to get 15 wins. Of the remaining 19 games, 15 are against opponents that Chadiha himself picked to go .500 or better the rest of the way (2 against the Pats).

Suddenly it becomes obvious how the NFL ended up with a winning record. Everybody's a winner.

A tip of the TurnOffESPN chapeau to FireJoeMorgan.com, the statistically-minded, funny, and utterly classy baseball blog that broke this story.

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