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 Post subject: Atlanta outperforming its Pythagoreans
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:28 am 
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The Pythagorean expectation is a stat taken from Bill James and baseball, and modeled after the mathematical pythagorean theorem. In short, it looks like:

Winning Percentage = PF^N/( PF^N + PA^N)

Where ^ is the exponentiation operator, N is the Pythagorean exponent, PF is points scored by your team, and PA is points scored against your team.

While in baseball N = 2 works well, in football, by my calculations, that exponent varies, and can be 2.2 for a season or 2.8. Daryl Morey, back in the day, calculated a value of 2.37 for the teams of his era, and that's the value folks like Aaron Schatz (Football Outsiders) uses. In the modern era, I suspect the value is too small. A typical season will have an optimal Pythagorean around 2.5, post 2000.

That said, I went back through all the Matt Ryan - Mike Smith seasons, calculated the winning percentage of those teams, and their Pythagoreans, and ran off the chart posted here:

http://codeandfootball.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/thoughts-on-nfl-week-11/

Mike Smith teams win more than they should, based purely on scoring stats. That's not something weird, it's just a fact. Getting down to the how of it can be fun, can be frustrating, but for now, just is, the way some folks automatically attract attention and others couldn't get any if they tried.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta outperforming its Pythagoreans
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:37 pm 
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My head just exploded

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta outperforming its Pythagoreans
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:26 pm 
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More simply put:

Given the way the Falcons score, and the points they give up, they win more than the average team would with the same scoring characteristics.

It's even more pronounced this year. Commenters have been talking around it a while. It provokes a bunch of nonsense about Bill Parcells "you are what you are" quotes and other "I am loud and on the air and stupid" gobbledy-gook.

None of the talking heads in Atlanta is truly an analytics guys, and Aaron Schatz (Football Outsiders) said that Atlanta at 8-0 was the worst 8-0 team in DVOA history.

I suspect two factors at work: Mike Smith is a cool cucumber, and Matt Ryan doesn't rattle much either. Turnovers aren't the cause, they come and go for Mike Smith teams, and neither was it cause by New Orleans imploding at the beginning of the year.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta outperforming its Pythagoreans
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:44 pm 
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It's luck and destiny. It's both a gift and a curse. I think it makes them record-wise look better than they actually are.

So if I get this straight, this team should be a 47-win team over the past 4.5 years, but they've basically managed to win 52 games. You could probably pick the 5 games that were very fluky that make the difference, like say:

2008 Bears
2010 Saints
2010 49ers
2012 Panthers

Maybe throw in 2011 Eagles, 2010 Packers, 2012 Broncos, as the 5th.

But where I'm going with this is that if you consider the Falcons a 47-win team, it does feel "more right" about overall how they've been the past 4.5 years in terms of their overall ability. They don't feel like they are consistently at the level of the other 50+ win teams:

1. Patriots - 55 wins
2. Actual Falcons - 52 wins <-- Where they are
2. Ravens - 52 wins
4. Steelers - 51 wins
5. Saints - 50 wins
6. Packers - 49 wins
-. Pythagorean Falcons - 47 wins <-- Where they should be
7. Giants - 45 wins
8. Colts - 44 wins
9. Texans - 42 wins
10. Chargers - 42 wins
11. Bears - 42 wins
12. 49ers - 41 wins
13. Jets - 41 wins
14. Eagles - 41 wins
15. Titans - 40 wins

Doesn't that feel right? A couple of games back from the Saints, but a couple of games ahead of the Texans and Bears?

The Falcons have always felt to me like a team that is closer in overall ability to the Bears than the Saints, which I think is one of the reasons why it irks me so that they keep losing to the Saints. Finally prove that you are on their level by beating them!

The Saints games are really the true litmus tests of what this team is in one sense. That's why next week's TNF game to me is critical to see where this team is at.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta outperforming its Pythagoreans
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:24 am 
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Things I believe..

I don't believe you can run all the time at playoff caliber NFL defenses. Even the lousy defenses of the era do a few things well, and the Saints, for a few years, have had an ability on 3rd/4th and 1 to fill gaps and stop plays.

And you can't keep running backs in I formation into the teeth of that kind of defense 100% of the time. You need to test it with short yardage play action, a little TE square out for example.

If I'm suggesting that at crucial moments against good teams the Atlanta playcalling has become linear and predictable, I'm saying that. Having someone whose playcalls are a little less predictable than the previous OC is a must.

Koetter may end up okay at this, I'm just not sure.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta outperforming its Pythagoreans
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:39 am 
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I think one excuse I'll give Koetter is the fact that the Falcons offensive personnel at the skill positions doesn't really give them great "variance" or versatility in his play-calling.

They don't really have 4 WRs that they can go to, or a good pair of 2 TEs that can allow them to throw out of run looks & vice versa (like San Fran, NE, or hell even Indy), their fullback is not very versatile in the sense that he can double as an H-back, RB, or TE like many other teams have at fullback. That would change if the Falcons just moved Snelling to FB. In the past you could play Ovie as a single back because he was a good pass protector and receiver.

As for running against playoff-caliber defenses, I agree. To do anything against playoff-caliber defenses, you have to be very good at it. And they only thing that the Falcons are very good at right now is throwing the football. But they probably aren't as good at that as many people believe right now.

Thus why it's important for them to play at a higher level than they have in recent weeks.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta outperforming its Pythagoreans
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:58 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
I think one excuse I'll give Koetter is the fact that the Falcons offensive personnel at the skill positions doesn't really give them great "variance" or versatility in his play-calling.

They don't really have 4 WRs that they can go to, or a good pair of 2 TEs that can allow them to throw out of run looks & vice versa (like San Fran, NE, or hell even Indy), their fullback is not very versatile in the sense that he can double as an H-back, RB, or TE like many other teams have at fullback.



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