Week 8, NFL scoring stats:

To explain the columns above, Median is a median point spread, and can be used to get a feel for how good a team is without overly weighting a blowout win or blowout loss. HS is Brian Burke’s Homemade Sagarin, as implemented in Maggie Xiong’s PDL::Stats. Pred is the predicted Pythagorean expectation. The exponent for this measure is fitted to the data set itself. SOS, SRS, and MOV are the simple ranking components, analyzed via this Perl implementation. MOV is margin of victory, or point spread divided by games played. SOS is strength of schedule. SRS is the simple ranking.

NFC East teams with aspirations of playoff contention, Dallas and Philadelphia, appear to be having them derailed by a single common cause. Neither has an offensive line healthy enough or good enough to let their quarterbacks shine. Further, being 1.5 games behind their wild card competition in the NFC North leaves them with precious few chances. Perhaps they’ll improve, perhaps Philadelphia will find a miracle LT and Dallas will scrape together a center and a right guard, but don’t hold your breath waiting. Washington is dynamic, but needs a few pieces here and there. Early season defensive line injuries did that team little good.

For now, what interests me are things like: who in the AFC can compete with Houston? Baltimore looks as if it’s winning on tradition more than dominance. New England looks great, except when it doesn’t. Denver is a powerful work in progress. In the NFC, it’s entirely possible that the NFC North will field 3 playoff teams. Chicago, Green Bay and Minnesota look good. Atlanta continues to roll up wins, the last perhaps its most impressive so far. The Giants continue to show strength. The San Francisco 49ers may be the best team in football right now, leading in HS, #2 in Simple Ranking, and no more than 0.3% off the top of the Pythagoreans.

Totally off the subject: this is the political season, and some of my favorite bloggers are tweeting some politics these days. One of the most interesting of the lot is @skepticalsports. I don’t share the political sentiments of Benjamin Morris, but polite and political – which he manages to do – is a rare combination, and it actually takes some work to be offended by his tweets.