Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Looking at the right numbers

I love the numbers. We know that. No secret there.

But more importantly, I love the right numbers. You can study the wrong numbers for as long as you like, but you will miss stuff you can find looking at the right numbers.

Case in point: Peter Schiff vs. everybody else when it came to the economy.

So what does that have to do with my other blog, Unified Football Theory? Well, I'm doing a lot better than 50-50 when picking point spreads, and I'm doing it by looking at the numbers I compile. My numbers say different things than the official numbers.

Lemme 'splain.

No team in the NFL has given up less points than the Pittsburgh Steelers. That makes them the best defense in the NFL, right?

No, hypothetical question asker, not by my system. The best defense is the Baltimore Ravens. Here are the average points scored numbers for both teams, split by squads.

total defense

pit 14.2 2.3 0.0 0.1 8.3 3.1 0.5
bal 15.8 2.3 0.2 0.0 9.4 3.1 0.8

The numbers in bold and underlined are the points that the scrimmage defense and kicking defense are responsible for giving up. The other numbers are what the other squads have given up, reading from left to right, scrimmage offense, kicking offense, return offense, scrimmage defense, kicking defense and return defense. Counting the overall points, Pittsburgh is 1.6 points better per game, and the teams we count as the major defense are 1.1 points better. But sometimes the defensive squads actually score points.

total offense
pit 22.4 15.6 4.2 0.3 1.9 0.0 0.4
bal 24.3 13.6 4.5 1.1 5.0 0.0 0.1

When it comes to scoring points, the Ravens defense is the best overall, and when the points they score are combined to reduce the net points they give up, the Raven defense is not just the league's most effective, their net number is so good, it's an outlier.

Could you be doing better at football prediction because your numbers are better, Matty Boy?

Yes, hypothetical. I think that's the situation right now.


pissed off patricia said...

Quick, give me something to hold on to because my head is spinning. Way too early in the day for me to follow numbers and maybe letters too. I know one thing for sure, my Cowboys just keep using their amazing ability to bum me out year after year.

Funny, my verification word is "eardeaft". Sorta what I am today.

Matty Boy said...

PoP, I'm a Niner fan deep down. I used to count myself a Raider fan, but Al Davis leaving for L.A. took a lot of the love out of me, and I still don't trust the crusty old scumbag.

I can understand your feeling that the Pokes ain't what they used to be, kind of like when the 49ers could make the playoffs but couldn't win the Super Bowl. But right now, it's hard for a Niner fan to feel much sympathy for a team that has a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

dguzman said...

I understand your Niner-induced bitterness, Matty Boy. But I do think we'll be like your Niners of old, making the playoffs and then getting our asses duly kicked.

Your UFT numbers still blow my mind. Every time I think I'm in the right frame of mind to get it, I don't get it. But I'm no numbers gal.

Matty Boy said...

Thanks for trying, dg. I think the audience for Lotsa 'Splainin' is not the place to advertise a football stats geek blog, but what other choice do I have?