Using Numbers to Say What You Want

I’ve been more or less enjoying the articles over at 538, and not just the sports ones.  I also  started a new job as a researcher at the FAA back in the fall, so it jumped out at me when I saw a post titled “A Deadly 2014 For Air Travel Has Reversed Recent Safety Gains“.  My job isn’t to run numbers on these kinds of things, but I get emails with FAA news, and the ones I saw seemed positive.  Crashes were down.  Why is 538 telling me that safety gains have been reversed?  It’s because it picked one number to base the title on instead of all the other ones it mentions in the article. Continue reading

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NFL Week 17 Results and Season Prediction Summary

The regular season is in the bag, and before moving on to the playoff predictions (and how sad they look for the Lions), I need to wrap up the models’ performance this year.  It will be a sad tale of woe, but there is no avoiding it.  As I noted when making the predictions, week 17 is a tough one because the model doesn’t know who is in the playoffs and who isn’t, and thus who is resting and who is playing hard.  Let’s see if it led to a bad week. Continue reading

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NFL Week 17 Predictions

Week 17 of the NFL season is a tough one for models and predictions in general.  Some teams have their playoff spot completely determined, like the Pats, and so have nothing to play for and have to balance keeping sharp with avoiding injury.  Some teams are completely out of the playoffs and have nothing to play for except a slightly different draft spot, like Buffalo.  And some teams, obviously, have playoff spots and/or seeds to play for.  My models don’t take any of that kind of thing into account, and even if you try to it can be hard to know in advance how long starters will actually play, etc.  So for this week’s predictions, I’m going to go through each game and make some guesses on what the models say versus the lines. Continue reading

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How My Fantasy Football Teams Did This Year

Normally no one likes to hear about other people’s fantasy football teams.  Yeah, you lost to a guy who didn’t even change his lineup and had two players on bye.  Yeah, you went to the playoffs even though you missed your draft.  Who cares?  But I thought that running through my teams would be a good opportunity to talk about luck and small samples in the fantasy football playoffs as we head into the actual NFL playoffs. Continue reading

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NFL Week 16 Results and Playoff Prediction

Just one more slate of games to go in the 2014 season.  It took a long time, but the models finally had a really solid week.  I’ll also give a sneak peak on how they think the playoff field will look, although I’ll do the usual full set of predictions closer to Sunday.

Getting close to wrapping up the Simmons competition, Bill went 9-6-1 for a season total of 126-108-6.  9-6-1 is usually a pretty good week, but all three of the models went 11-4-1 in a solid case of too little too late.  That gives Luigi a total of 114-120-6, Yoshi 1 a total of 110-124-6, and Yoshi 2 a total of 108-126-6.  If Luigi manages to go 11-5 next week, it would make it to .500 (125-125-6) for the season.

Against my usual SBR lines, Luigi picked every game and went that same 11-4-1 for a season total of 90-86-7 in a last-gasp attempt to end up on the plus side of the ledger.  For that to happen, it’ll basically need that 11-5 record again next week.  Yoshi 1 went 10-4-1 for a total of 81-96-7 and Yoshi 2 went 10-3-1 for a total of 81-96-7.  Neither of them will end up in the black.  The consensus picks went 10-3-1 for a total of 57-63-6. If the lines for week 17 stay where they are now, the consensus picks would need to go 12-1 (or 13-0) to end up in the black.

Luigi’s SuperContest picks went 3-2 for an overall record of 36-43-1. Yoshi 2 had the same picks and stands at 39-40-1. Yoshi 1 went a belated 5-0 for an overall record of 37-41-2.

As for the playoff preview, the models agree on the winner of each game except for three, and those three don’t change the playoff results at all.  So the models expect the AFC to have New England and Denver with byes while Baltimore travels to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati travels to Indianapolis.  The Pats and Colts spots are locks, but the rest could move around.  In the NFC, Seattle and Green Bay will get byes while Detroit travels to Dallas and Arizona travels to Atlanta.  Of course, if I had my druthers the Lions would have a bye.  But I’ll be happy enough if they put up a good fight next weekend and don’t get any injuries or anything before the playoffs.

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NFL Week 16 Predictions

After Thursday’s “who drafts first?” game, I thought we were done with playoff-irrelevant games.  Unfortunately, that isn’t quite true.  We still have Miami-Minnesota, Oakland-Buffalo, and Rams-Giants on the docket.  Yes, I know there are some convoluted ways that Buffalo or Miami could make it, but they aren’t going to.  Still, 12 out of 16 games having some manner of playoff implication is pretty good.  I’m just going to spend the day crossing my fingers that Jimmy Clausen doesn’t decide to have his breakout game. Continue reading

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Jaguars-Titans, A Game Where No One Wins

Tonight’s game between two 2-12 teams has to have a winner (ignoring the unlikely event of a tie), but even that team will lose.  That’s because winning will pretty much put that team out of the running for the number one draft pick this offseason.  Truth be told, the Tampa Bucs have the inside track on that anyway: they’re also 2-12, don’t have to play another 2-12 team, and have two very losable games left against Green Bay and New Orleans.  If Tennessee loses, they’ll also need to avoid a win against the Colts in week 17: doable, but Indy might not have anything to play for.  If Jacksonville loses, they’ll try to lose again to Houston; depending on how the other games go this weekend, they might be eliminated from the playoffs and not trying too hard either.  Oakland is also in the running at 2-12; they have the Bills and Broncos left on the schedule.  But at least according to 538, the Bucs have the best chance of coming out on top. So to speak. Continue reading

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