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Thread: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

  1. #1
    Member RWB's Avatar
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    Default Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    It seems in many threads the discussion always comes up.... but the Colts play the easiest schedule in the NFL to explain their success this year. Just kind of a reminder that in fact before the season started the Colts were tied at #14 in schedule difficulty.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/afcsouth/pos...th-of-schedule

    2012 NFL Strength of Schedule By Team
    A look at the most difficult schedules in 2012 (based on opponents' 2011 record).

    Rank Team Combined W-L Record Winning Pct. Games vs. Quality Opp.**
    1 N.Y. Giants* 140-116 .547 7
    2 Denver* 139-117 .543 7
    3 Cleveland 135-121 .527 7
    4 St. Louis 134-122 .523 5
    4 Baltimore* 134-122 .523 7
    6 San Diego 133-123 .520 6
    7 Philadelphia 132-124 .516 8
    8 Minnesota 131-125 .512 7
    8 Arizona 131-125 .512 6
    10 Carolina 130-126 .508 5
    11 Seattle 129-127 .504 5
    11 Dallas 129-127 .504 7
    11 New Orleans* 129-127 .504 5
    14 Jacksonville 128-128 .500 8
    14 Cincinnati* 128-128 .500 5
    14 Pittsburgh* 128-128 .500 6
    14 Indianapolis 128-128 .500 7
    18 Oakland 127-129 .496 5
    18 Miami 127-129 .496 6
    20 N.Y. Jets 126-130 .492 6
    20 Kansas City 126-130 .492 5
    20 Chicago 126-130 .492 7
    20 Detroit* 126-130 .492 6
    24 Washington 125-131 .488 7
    24 Atlanta* 125-131 .488 4
    24 San Francisco* 125-131 .488 5
    27 Tampa Bay 124-132 .484 5
    28 Tennessee 123-133 .480 6
    29 Houston* 121-135 .473 6
    29 Buffalo 121-135 .473 5
    31 Green Bay* 120-136 .469 7
    32 New England* 116-140 .453 4
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    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    What does this mean though? atleast with respect to this season, teams change, coaches change, divisions change, injuries happen.
    Why so SERIOUS

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Sagarin has it #32 for this year.


    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/nfl12.htm


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    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Quote Originally Posted by Really? View Post
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    What does this mean though? atleast with respect to this season, teams change, coaches change, divisions change, injuries happen.
    I think he was referring to the notion that because the Colts had the worst record last year, that they got the easiest schedule.
    Last edited by Natston; 01-02-2013 at 12:22 PM.
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    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Quote Originally Posted by Slick Pinkham View Post
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    Sagarin has it #32 for this year.


    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/nfl12.htm


    you play who they tell you to play
    According to his numbers the Colts have the easiest schedule the league yet they've played 6 games (3-3) against his top-10. Every team who has played more all have a top-10 SOS: Detroit 10 (1-9), Arizona 9 (2-7), Green Bay 8 (4-4), San Francisco 7 (4-3), Chicago 7 (1-6), Minnesota 7 (4-3), and St. Louis 7 (2-5). I guess he just thinks that Jacksonville and Tennessee are so bad that playing 4 games against them negates most of the rest. Which may be true to some degree. Though I'm somewhat surprised that Denver didn't end up with the easiest schedule after playing 6 games against the rest of their division. Especially since the bottom of the AFC West, Oakland and Kansas City, was even worse than the bottom of the AFC South.

    It may not mean much but the number that sticks out to me from that is that Denver has played just 3 games against top-10 teams. They've lost each of them.
    Last edited by BRushWithDeath; 01-02-2013 at 12:09 PM.
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    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Quote Originally Posted by BRushWithDeath View Post
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    It may not mean much but the number that sticks out to me from that is that Denver has played just 3 games against top-10 teams. They've lost each of them.
    True, but those were in the beginning of the year when the team was still new and getting used to Peyton, so I'm willing to cut them some slack.
    Don't ask Marvin Harrison what he did during the bye week. "Batman never told where the Bat Cave is," he explained.

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    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Quote Originally Posted by Slick Pinkham View Post
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    Sagarin has it #32 for this year.


    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/nfl12.htm


    you play who they tell you to play
    Also interesting that Sagarin's final list has the Colts ranked at #23. Would seem there has to be a glitch somewhere in his rankings if he has the Colts at 23?


    1 New England Patriots = 30.71 12 4 0 18.75( 26) 2 2 0 | 3 3 0 | 30.79 1 | 30.64 2
    2 Denver Broncos = 29.99 13 3 0 18.13( 28) 0 3 0 | 4 3 0 | 30.39 2 | 29.62 4
    3 Seattle Seahawks = 29.76 11 5 0 21.60( 5) 5 1 0 | 7 2 0 | 28.96 4 | 30.74 1
    4 San Francisco 49ers = 29.74 11 4 1 21.98( 3) 4 3 0 | 5 4 1 | 29.43 3 | 30.08 3
    5 Green Bay Packers = 27.25 11 5 0 21.34( 8) 4 4 0 | 6 4 0 | 27.72 5 | 26.82 5
    6 Atlanta Falcons = 26.62 13 3 0 18.84( 25) 2 0 0 | 5 2 0 | 26.45 6 | 26.80 6
    7 Chicago Bears = 25.83 10 6 0 20.98( 12) 1 6 0 | 3 6 0 | 25.50 8 | 26.18 7
    8 New York Giants = 24.98 9 7 0 20.86( 13) 2 1 0 | 5 4 0 | 24.54 9 | 25.44 8
    9 Houston Texans = 24.65 12 4 0 18.46( 27) 2 3 0 | 3 3 0 | 25.50 7 | 23.87 9
    10 Minnesota Vikings = 24.04 10 6 0 21.56( 6) 4 3 0 | 5 4 0 | 24.38 10 | 23.72 10
    NFL 2012 through games of December 30 Sunday - Week 16 (End of Regular Season)
    RATING W L T SCHEDL(RANK) VS top 10 | VS top 16 | ELO_SCORE | PURE POINTS
    HOME ADVANTAGE=[ 2.17] [ 2.67] [ 2.31]
    11 Washington Redskins = 22.95 10 6 0 20.40( 15) 2 2 0 | 4 5 0 | 22.79 11 | 23.11 11
    12 Baltimore Ravens = 22.69 10 6 0 19.51( 18) 2 2 0 | 3 4 0 | 22.63 12 | 22.76 12
    13 Cincinnati Bengals = 22.57 10 6 0 17.58( 31) 1 1 0 | 3 2 0 | 22.48 13 | 22.67 13
    14 New Orleans Saints = 21.13 7 9 0 21.11( 9) 1 5 0 | 1 8 0 | 20.34 17 | 21.95 14
    15 St. Louis Rams = 20.92 7 8 1 23.09( 2) 2 5 1 | 3 5 1 | 21.29 14 | 20.55 16
    16 Carolina Panthers = 20.81 7 9 0 21.01( 11) 1 5 0 | 4 5 0 | 20.80 15 | 20.81 15
    17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers = 20.15 7 9 0 20.44( 14) 2 3 0 | 4 7 0 | 20.48 16 | 19.83 18
    18 Dallas Cowboys = 19.94 8 8 0 21.44( 7) 1 4 0 | 3 8 0 | 19.74 18 | 20.15 17
    19 Pittsburgh Steelers = 19.66 8 8 0 17.97( 29) 1 1 0 | 4 3 0 | 19.50 19 | 19.82 19
    20 Miami Dolphins = 17.86 7 9 0 19.33( 20) 1 4 0 | 3 4 0 | 18.54 20 | 17.17 22
    NFL 2012 through games of December 30 Sunday - Week 16 (End of Regular Season)
    RATING W L T SCHEDL(RANK) VS top 10 | VS top 16 | ELO_SCORE | PURE POINTS
    HOME ADVANTAGE=[ 2.17] [ 2.67] [ 2.31]
    21 Detroit Lions = 17.39 4 12 0 21.93( 4) 1 9 0 | 2 9 0 | 17.05 23 | 17.74 20
    22 San Diego Chargers = 17.33 7 9 0 17.90( 30) 0 3 0 | 0 7 0 | 17.31 22 | 17.36 21
    23 Indianapolis Colts = 17.32 11 5 0 17.35( 32) 3 3 0 | 3 3 0 | 18.17 21 | 16.43 23
    24 Arizona Cardinals = 16.42 5 11 0 23.30( 1) 2 7 0 | 2 9 0 | 16.54 24 | 16.30 24
    25 Buffalo Bills = 14.76 6 10 0 19.06( 23) 0 5 0 | 0 6 0 | 15.35 25 | 14.12 26
    26 Cleveland Browns = 14.49 5 11 0 19.10( 22) 0 2 0 | 1 6 0 | 13.68 27 | 15.23 25
    27 New York Jets = 14.19 6 10 0 19.96( 16) 0 5 0 | 1 5 0 | 14.82 26 | 13.50 27
    28 Tennessee Titans = 11.64 6 10 0 19.29( 21) 0 6 0 | 0 6 0 | 12.18 28 | 11.04 29
    29 Philadelphia Eagles = 11.21 4 12 0 21.11( 10) 1 2 0 | 2 7 0 | 10.92 29 | 11.49 28
    30 Oakland Raiders
    You know how hippos are made out to be sweet and silly, like big cows, but are actually extremely dangerous and can kill you with stunning brutality? The Pacers are the NBA's hippos....Matt Moore CBS Sports....

  11. #8

    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Sagarin's overall rating depends a great deal on the strength of schedule number, is all I can say.

    I was looking over his football ratings before the bowl games, fro example, and Northern Illinois was in the 30s despite being top 25 most of the season in human polls. Their MAC schedule kept them down. I think he applies similar criteria to NFL and other things he rates.

    Not that it makes it either right or wrong, it just explains how the #23 for the Colts came about. He also uses point differential, which hurt the Colts since many of their losses were blowouts.

    I'm not sure I trust statistical analyses any more than human analyses. It's a good thing there's no BCS is all I can say- we will play it out on the field.
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  13. #9

    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Another interesting case is the schedule over the past few months for the Broncos.

    Quick disclaimer: The Broncos deserve the #1 seed. They earned it. Winning games is all that matters. You don't chose you who play, when you play them, or where you play them. It's hard to win 2 games in a row in the NFL, let alone 11 games in a row.

    That being said, anyone with a brain has to admit that they have not been challenged by any significant team in a very long time. Baltimore was at rock bottom. The Bengals are up and down. Everyone else they played just flat-out sucked: opposing teams that had a combined 68-108, including the two playoff teams (Ravens. Bengals) that they defeated. That much was obvious a month ago, as the Patriots were preparing to face Houston and then San Francisco, and Patriots fans were pleading for perfection, agreeing that to get the #1 seed the Patriots would have to run the table, given the Broncos very lame closing schedule.

    What does it mean? Maybe nothing. While 11 games won in a row is impressive, it sort of reminds me of the Matt Cassel season where the Pats went 11-5 and beat absolutely nobody (other than Arizona), with the weakest schedule there was (NFC West, AFC West, when both were down). It sucked to miss the playoffs at 11-5, but I also knew that to even win one playoff game that they would have to beat a team playing better ball than any team that they had beaten all year, with blue-smoke-and-mirrors (Cassel) at QB. Denver doesn't have the QB problem, but they may have to play their best game of the year to not be one-and-done.

    So their schedule may hurt them in the playoffs- it's a fair argument to make.

    It could also help them if they have used the second halves of those non-competitive games to manage the injuries of key players while still remaining sharp. I haven't see enough of the Broncos blowouts to know. I had no desire to watch their recent games, with no expectation of any of them being a contest.
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    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    I agree, Slick. The Broncos have had a very lame schedule down the stretch. The Colts actually have more quality wins this season than the Broncos. The Colts have beat three playoff teams (Minn, GB, Houston) while the Broncos have only beat two (Cincy and Baltimore). The lack of quality wins for the Broncos is why I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that they will be in the Super Bowl. They certainly have a great chance, but I won't be surprised at all if they go down in the Divisional round or AFC Championship.

    In fairness to the Broncos, they did play their toughest games (Atlanta, Houston, New England) at the very beginning of the season when Manning and the defense weren't as great as they are now. Manning right now is clearly better than he was at the beginning of the season. He has improved physically and is also much more comfortable with his new teammates and surroundings. I don't think they would have gone 0-3 against that Atlanta/Houston/NE combo if they would have faced them towards the end of the season instead of at the beginning.

    It's definitely going to be a tough task for a visiting team to win at Mile High with the crazy fans and altitude. The Broncos took care of business when they had to and deserve their good fortune.

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    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Quote Originally Posted by Natston View Post
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    I think he was referring to the notion that because the Colts had the worst record last year, that they got the easiest schedule.
    Judging from his post that does not come in anywhere, just that they had a hard schedule, but if that was where he was meaning to go then that is fine.
    Why so SERIOUS

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    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Quote Originally Posted by Natston View Post
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    I think he was referring to the notion that because the Colts had the worst record last year, that they got the easiest schedule.

    That hasn't been true since the 5-team divisions disappeared. Every team knows right now what 14 of their 16 games are going to be in two seasons, in three seasons, in four seasons, etc.

    There is no "fifth-place" schedule any more.

    14?

    6 divisional games.
    4 games against a pre-determined division in your conference
    4 games against a pre-determined division in the opposite conference.

    All that is subject to the previous season results is the two remaing conference opponents, one each from the two divisions not named above.
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    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    I think the official version of strength-of-schedule is based on last seasons' results, not the current season's results.

    It can be pretzel-logic to use the current season results for strenght of schedule. Of course the Broncos' schedule isn't going to look as strong, the Broncos have been beating everybody!

    Obviously Sarragin tries to get around that, but I think everyone should just toss out strength of schedule after week #1.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
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    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


  21. #14
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    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Thank you Jay for putting into words what my half *** thread/post did not accomplish. Mainly a frustration on my part after seeing folks (usually other sites not PD) where it almost seemed people wanted to put an asterisk next to the Colts record because they had the easist schedule in the NFL. Yeah they're 11 - 5 but they're not anywhere close to that record.

    I'm not blind to the fact that Kansas City and JAX are bad....really bad football teams. On that same note the Colts played and beat 3 teams who made the playoffs too. Seriously, I'm not looking for the Colts to get a ribbon for participation and they will prove their worth this coming Sunday that they're a team with flaws but pretty darn good too.
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  23. #15

    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoJ View Post
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    It can be pretzel-logic to use the current season results for strenght of schedule. Of course the Broncos' schedule isn't going to look as strong, the Broncos have been beating everybody!

    Obviously Sarragin tries to get around that, but I think everyone should just toss out strength of schedule after week #1.
    Sagarin doesn't share his precise formula, but I think that strength of schedule rankings are based on your opponents performance against other teams only, thus you do not hurt your strength of schedule with a victory. His rankings also take into account location of the games won and lost and a "how recent were those wins and losses" factor. It discounts all performance in past seasons, at least after the first 4 games.

    There is no injured player component, I don't think, which is probably the biggest thing to keep in mind. San Francisco's D since Justin Smith was injured, for example, has dropped off the map. Aldon Smith has yet to register a single sack since Justin Smith went down! No way would I pick them to come out of the NFC unless Justin Smith is healthy.
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    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    I don't need numbers or percentages to tell me that the Colts played a crappy schedule this year

  25. #17

    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Who cares. The Colts beat who they were supposed to, and the other teams that didn't make the playoffs did not. We may not have a crazy difficult schedule, but we focused and did what we needed to to get into the playoffs. So tough crap to the other teams, but we deserve it.
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    Default Re: Strength of Schedule fallacy..

    Quote Originally Posted by cdash View Post
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    I don't need numbers or percentages to tell me that the Colts played a crappy schedule this year

    At the beginning of the season, most people thought the NFC North had a really soft schedule - AFC opponents were the "weak" AFC South and the NFC division was the usually-weak-but-finally-improving NFC West. The Colts certainly crushed that theory with their success against a schedule that was supposed to "overwhelm" them. I guess the Colts still have a "weak" schedule because they do get play Tennessee and Jacksonville twice.

    There's a problem with using records -- whether in total or among common opponents -- as a driver to the strength of schedule.

    The AFC West was awful this year (with one obvious exception, of course.)

    Back out the six divisional games and the Broncos were 7-3, the Chargers were 3-7, and the Raiders and Chiefs were 2-8. So it seems unlikely that the Chargers would have been 7-9, and in second place, if they played in a better division.

    Just to continue this process, excluding divisional games the rest are as follows:

    NFC East - Giants 6-4; Redskins and Cowboys 5-5; Eagles 3-7. (Total, 19-21; Total non-conference record 8-8 - AFC North)
    NFC North - Bears 7-3; Packers and Vikings 6-4; Lions 4-6. (Ouch, Lions went 0-6 against the division!) (Total, 23-17; Total non-conference record 10-6 - AFC South)
    NFC South - Falcons 10-0; Saints, Bucs, and Panthers 4-6. (Total, 22-18; Total non-conference record 11-5, AFC West)
    NFC West - 49ers 8-2; Seahawks 8-2; Cardinals 4-6; Rams 3-7. (Total, 23-17; Total non-conferece record, 10-6, AFC East)

    AFC East - Patriots 6-4; Dolphins 5-5; Jets and Bills 4-6. (Total, 19-21; Total non-conference record, 6-10)
    AFC North - Bengals 7-3; Ravens 6-4; Steelers 5-5; Browns 3-7. (Total, 21-19; Total non-conference record, 8-8)
    AFC South - Texans and Colts 7-3; Titans 5-5; Jags 0-10. (Total, 19-21; Total non-conference record 6-10)
    AFC West - Broncos 7-3; Chargers 3-7; Raiders and Chiefs 2-8. (Total, 14-26; Total non-conference record, 5-11).

    Check digit... 160-160... ok.

    What does this mean? I don't know, but its a way to look at how some teams may appear "better" because they play a disproportionate amount of games against a weak division (NFC East and AFC West other than the Broncos, I'm looking at you...)

    It also shows, this year, that my two favorite whipping boys (NFC North and NFC West) were actually pretty good divisions. Bummer.

    Lastly, it shows, much to my chagrin, that the NFC had a good year against the AFC, going 39-25. So the Lions, at 4-12, appear to be soft team because they took a beating in their division but were nearly 0.500 outside of the division. They might be a better quality opponent than the other 4-12 and 5-11 teams (Eagles, Cardinals, Browns, Raiders) and perhaps even some of the 6-10 teams (Jets, Bills, Titans). They were tied for 3rd-from the bottom but they might be closer to 10th-from the bottom in terms of quality of opponent.

    I guess it may be construed to show that the "right" teams in the AFC are in the playoffs, and helps explain the frustration in New York and Chicago as their poor performance in their own divisions - the Bears in a pretty good division and the Giants poor performance in a weak division - doomed them.

    Its just better to watch the games. Although I still try to avoid watching any/all NFC games unless the Steelers are involved.

    But the Colts were 7-3 outside their division, so as much as one would like to say "they had four gimme's against the Jags/Titans", they took care of business against their non-divisional schedule and were the only team in the division to go 3-1 against the NFC North which had a pretty good year over all.

    There's no smoke-and-mirrors to the Colts success. They did it on the field under adverse conditions. Whether I like it or not.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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