Deceiving NFL records – Eagles example

Most of the people who know what they are doing don’t have the Philadelphia Eagles ranked number 1 (e.g. TeamRankings.com, ThePowerRank.com, FiveThirtyEight.com) even though the Eagles are 8-1 and have the best record in the NFL.  So I just did a quick look at their schedule to see who they have played.  It’s not great.  They’ve played only two teams with winning records (Carolina and Kansas City) and in those gams they are 1-1 (They beat Carolina and lost to KC).  The full list of their opponents records looks like this:

  • 7-3
  • 6-3
  • 4-5
  • 4-5
  • 4-5
  • 3-6
  • 3-6
  • 1-8
  • 1-9

That adds up to an opponents’ collective record of 33-50 or about 39.8% winning percentage.  A team with that winning percentage would win 6.36 games in a season with 16 games.

Now let’s compare that with the Atlanta Falcons who are 5-4.  They have played 6 teams with winning records and are 3-3 in those games.  Their opponents’ records look like this:

  • 7-2
  • 7-3
  • 5-4
  • 5-4
  • 5-4
  • 5-4
  • 4-5
  • 4-6
  • 3-6

This gives a collective record for their opponents of 45-38, which is about 54.2%.  That winning percentage amounts to winning 8.67 games out of 16.

This is a really simplistic way of looking at strength of schedule, but with a difference this stark you don’t need any complex analysis to see it.  This difference in schedules is huge through 9 games for the Eagles and the Falcons so that the Eagles probably aren’t really as good as their record indicates and the Falcons are probably a bit better than their record.  It’s so easy to see that from just looking at their schedules.  That’s why when I see the Eagles ranked number 1 at this point in the season in a set of rankings, it’s hard to take those rankings seriously.  For instance, ESPN.  Why don’t they just use the rankings from FiveThirtyEight, which are actually based on, you know, data.

Cheers.

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Posted on November 19, 2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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