Cute stats say we got a 45% chance of winning. http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2013 ... ck-effect/
January 17, 2013, 7:02 am8 Comments
Conference Title Game Probabilities, and the Kaepernick Effect
By BRIAN BURKE
The second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick has certainly fulfilled the expectations of 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh, who elected to start him over the veteran Alex Smith midway through the season. Kaepernick has proved to be a definite upgrade, bringing two new dimensions to the 49ers’ offense: his ability to run and his ability to throw deep. It’s very difficult to assess the value of a player like Kaepernick, but let’s try anyway.
After running the numbers as usual for this Sunday’s conference championship games, I reran them two more times. If we used only the offensive statistics from this season’s Alex Smith-led 49ers in the game probability model, San Francisco would barely be favorites against Atlanta at 51/49. But if we use only the stats for Kaepernick’s version of the 49er offense, the model estimates the game at 59/41.
This would mean, in comparison to Smith, Kaepernick adds about 8 percentage points of an edge over an opponent. That may not sound like much, but it is. It’s the equivalent of 4 points in terms of a conventional point spread. Earlier in the season, when Ben Roethlisberger was replaced by Byron Leftwich, the spread on that week’s Steelers game dropped six points. So think of the difference between Smith and Kaepernick as about two-thirds the difference between Roethlisberger and Leftwich.
And keep in mind that Smith was no slouch in 2012. Until the injury that gave Kaepernick his opportunity, this was turning into Smith’s career year. Although his conventional quarterback rating of 104 is highly inflated by his style of high-percentage short passes, Smith was consistently effective.
As exciting and efficient as Kaepernick is, his 49ers are on the road against the best Falcons team in recent memory. It should be close, but San Francisco has the edge.
Here are the game probabilities for the conference championships.
Pwin GAME Pwin
0.55 San Francisco at Atlanta 0.45
0.33 Baltimore at New England 0.67
Brian Burke, a former Navy pilot who has taken up the less dangerous hobby of N.F.L. analysis, operates Advanced NFL Stats, a blog about football, statistics and game theory.