September 29, 2007

Fundamentals: Good in Investing, Good in Football

I FULLY ADMIT I'm not the most savvy person in the world when it comes to advanced mathematics. Even though I've been blessed with aptitude for the basic stuff, and can do somewhat complex calculations in my head, my brain shorts out whenever I'm faced with tough mathematics. It was only with the most concerted effort that I managed to get a "C" in basic calculus in college, and the idea of me doing anything beyond that has always seemed pretty laughable. Similarly, crunching statistical calculations has always been a wretched experience for me, and I've hated the subject ever since my days at Michigan.

Fortunately, out in the real world, I've quickly discovered I don't need to do any complex calculations. Other people, who are good at these things, will do the calculations and spit out the data, leaving me to simply interpret the data and draw conclusions accordingly. Keeping this in mind, I would note the excellent work being done by people far smarter than me at Football Outsiders. These statistical geniuses have crunched the data, pored over the statistics, and come up with seemingly irrefutable evidence of how the season is going to go. (As it happens, I learned of this site through Behind the Steel Curtain, an excellent Steelers blog).

Anyway, the good people at Football Outsiders have found the Pittsburgh Steelers have a 94 pc chance of making the NFL's playoffs this year, an 80 pc chance of winning the AFC North and a 61 pc chance of earning a "bye" week -- in other words, earning a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the playoffs. This is better than every other team in the NFL save one -- and I think we all know which team THAT is. The statistics are even MORE resounding when one looks at the other teams in the AFC North. The evil Baltimore Ravens, for instance, have just a 57 pc chance of making the playoffs, while the Cincinnati Bengals have just a 17 pc chance of making it. As for Cleveland, well, hope springs eternal.

Of course, these are just projections and projections have a way of changing. Still, they are fascinating. As of this week, Pittsburgh, according to this wonderful site, has an 18 pc chance of winning the Super Bowl this year. New England has a 17 pc chance, while Dallas has a 11 pc chance and Tampa Bay also has an 11 pc chance. Of course, this is partially where the whole interpretation thing comes in. Everyone knows it is fundamentally impossible for an NFC team to actually win the Big Game, so we can just throw those numbers in the waste bin and focus on the AFC teams. The Indianapolis Colts have a 9 pc chance of repeating this year, while evil Baltimore has a 4 pc chance of winning. As for Cincinnati and Cleveland -- well, hope springs eternal.

So what does this all mean, you ask?

I don't know, Babs. But I do know this: Pittsburgh looks pretty darn good this year, and so does New England. Baltimore already looks tired three games into the season, and Cincinnati's defense is working about as well as the Maginot Line. As for Cleveland, I'm hoping they'll go 8-8 and I think they can beat Baltimore on Sunday. We shall see!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at September 29, 2007 11:10 PM | TrackBack
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