Odds for the third week of the 2015 playoffs, presented from the home team’s point of view:

Conference Championship Playoff Odds
Home Team Visiting Team Score Diff Win Prob Est. Point Spread
Carolina Panthers Arizona Cardinals -1.40 0.198 -10.4
Denver Broncos New England Patriots 1.972 0.879 14.6

 

Last week the system went 2-2, for a total record of 5-3. The system favors Arizona markedly, and Denver by an even larger margin. That said, the teams my system does not like have already won one game. There have been years when a team my system didn’t like much won anyway. That was the case in 2009, when my system favored the Colts over the Saints. The system isn’t perfect, and the system is static. It does not take into account critical injuries, morale, better coaching, etc.

Odds for the second week of the 2015 playoffs, presented from the home team’s point of view:

Second Round Playoff Odds
Home Team Visiting Team Score Diff Win Prob Est. Point Spread
Carolina Panthers Seattle Seahawks -1.713 0.153 -12.7
Arizona Cardinals Green Bay Packers -0.001 0.500 0.0
Denver Broncos Pittsburgh Steelers 0.437 0.608 3.2
New England Patriots Kansas City Chiefs -0.563 0.363 -4.2

 

Last week the system went 3-1 and perhaps would have gone 4-0 if after the Burflict interception, Cincinnati had just killed three plays and kicked a field goal.

The system currently gives Seattle a massive advantage in the playoffs. It says that Green Bay/Arizona is effectively an even match up, and that both the AFC games are pretty close. It favors Denver in their matchup, and the Chiefs in theirs.

One last comment about last week’s games. The Cincinnati-Pitt game was the most depressing playoff game I’ve seen in a long time, both for the dirty play on both sides of the ball, and the end being decided by stupid play on Cincinnati’s part.  It took away from the good parts of the game, the tough defense when people weren’t pushing the edges of the rules, and the gritty play on the part of McCarron and Roethlisberger. There was some heroic play on both their parts, in pouring rain.

But for me, watching Ryan Shazier leading with the crown of his helmet and then listening to officials explain away what is obvious on video more or less took the cake. If in any way shape or form, this kind of hit is legal, then the NFL rules system is busted.

The cumulative stats for the 2015 regular season are:

2015-regular-season-stats

This gives us the basis to generate playoff values based on my playoff formula. Playoff Odds are calculated according to this model:

logit P = 0.668 + 0.348*(delta SOS) + 0.434*(delta Playoff Experience)

and the results are:

2015 NFL Playoff Teams, C&F Worksheet.
NFC
Rank Name Home Field Adv Playoff Experience SOS Total Score
1 Carolina Panthers 0.406 0.434 -1.35 -0.51
2 Arizona Cardinals 0.406 0.434 0.456 1.296
3 Minnesota Vikings 0.406 0.0 0.654 1.06
4 Washington Redskins 0.406 0.0 -0.866 -0.46
5 Green Bay Packers 0.0 0.434 0.863 1.297
6 Seattle Seahawks 0.0 0.434 0.769 1.203
AFC
1 Denver Broncos 0.406 0.434 0.727 1.567
2 NE Patriots 0.406 0.434 -0.839 0.001
3 Cinncinnati Bengals 0.406 0.434 0.661 1.501
4 Houston Texans 0.406 0.0 -0.828 -0.422
5 Kansas City Chiefs 0.0 0.0 0.564 0.564
6 Pittsburgh Steelers 0.0 0.434 0.696 1.130

 

The total score of a particular team is used as a base. Subtract the score of the opponent and the result is the logit of the win probability for that game. You can use the inverse logit (see Wolfram Alpha to do this easily) to get the probability, and you can multiply the logit of the win probability by 7.4 to get the estimated point spread.

 

For the first week of the 2014 playoffs, I’ve done all this for you, in the table below. Odds are presented from the home team’s point of view:

First Round Playoff Odds
Home Team Visiting Team Score Diff Win Prob Est. Point Spread
Minnesota Vikings Seattle Seahawks -0.143 0.464 -1.05
Washington Redskins Green Bay Packers -1.757 0.147 -13.0
Cinncinnati Bengals Pittsburgh Steelers 0.371 0.591 2.75
Houston Texans Kansas City Chiefs -0.986 0.271 -7.30

 

So the system suggests that Minnesota – Seattle should be close, perhaps unbettable. Cinncinnati-Pittsburgh is an even match, with Cinncinnati’s factors amounting to a typical home field advantage. Houston-Kansas City and Washington-GB are predicted to be easy wins for the visiting team.

Back in the day there was a board game named “NFL Strategy”, created by Tudor Games. The game was available in 1970, and my brother and I played it hard core. Because it had a spring based probability generator, we pushed the edges of creative spring twinking as much as possible. But the game had a lot more depth  than most games of the period, in terms of play calling.

To bring back a blast from the past,  I present Pass 24 B Fly.

Pass 24 B Fly.  A great way to get your fast running back out of the backfield

Pass 24 B Fly. A great way to get your fast running back out of the backfield

In far too many ways this play reminds me of the game ender in the 4th week contest, Cowboys and Saints. So, did Sean Payton dig into  the playbook  of a 45 year old game to spring a surprise on the ‘Boys? I guess we’ll never really know.

To start, a summary of the 2014 regular season data:

2014-regular-season-stats

This gives us the basis to generate playoff values based on my playoff formula. Playoff Odds are calculated according to this model:

logit P = 0.668 + 0.348*(delta SOS) + 0.434*(delta Playoff Experience)

and the results are:

2014 NFL Playoff Teams, C&F Playoff Model Worksheet.
NFC
Rank Name Home Field Advantage Prev. Playoff Experience Strength of Schedule Total Score
1 Seattle Seahawks 0.406 0.434 0.275 1.115
2 Green Bay Packers 0.406 0.434 -0.118 0.722
3 Dallas Cowboys 0.406 0.0 -0.630 -0.224
4 Carolina Panthers 0.406 0.434 -0.292 0.548
5 Arizona Cardinals 0.0 0.0 0.449 0.449
6 Detroit Lions 0.0 0.0 -0.132 -0.132
AFC
1 NE Patriots 0.406 0.434 0.438 1.278
2 Denver Broncos 0.406 0.434 0.550 1.390
3 Pittsburgh Steelers 0.406 0.0 -0.703 -0.297
4 Indianapolis Colts 0.406 0.434 -0.393 0.447
5 Cinncinnati Bengals 0.0 0.434 -0.202 -0.602
6 Baltimore Ravens 0.0 0.0 -0.724 -0.724

 

The total score of a particular team is used as a base. Subtract the score of the opponent and the result is the logit of the win probability for that game. You can use the inverse logit (see Wolfram Alpha to do this easily) to get the probability, and you can multiply the logit of the win probability by 7.4 to get the estimated point spread.

For the second week of the 2014 playoffs, I’ve done all this for you, in the table below. Odds are presented from the home team’s point of view.

Second Round Playoff Odds
Home Team Visiting Team Score Diff Win Prob Est. Point Spread
Seattle Seahawks Carolina Panthers 0.567 0.638 4.2
Green Bay Packers Dallas Cowboys 1.352 0.795 10.0
New England Patriots Baltimore Ravens 2.002 0.881 14.8
Denver Broncos Indianapolis Colts 1.349 0.794 10.0

 

Baltimore is not given much of a chance by these techniques, but an interesting analysis by Benjamin Morris of Skeptical Sports (featured now on fivethirtyeight.com) is worth paying attention to. Though the divisional round is hard on teams without a bye, those that survive appear to have a superior chance to go forward in the playoffs. Benjamin has always struck me as an incisive analyst, so he’s absolutely worth paying attention to.

The competitors are Denver and Seattle, and as stated previously, my model favors Seattle substantially.

Super Bowl
NFC Champion AFC Champion Score Diff Win Prob Est. Point Spread
Seattle Seahawks Denver Broncos 1.041 0.739 7.7

 

Of course by this point my model has been reduced to a single factor, as there is no home field advantage in the Super Bowl and both teams are playoff experienced. Since every season 8 of the 11 games are before the Conference chanpionships and Super Bowl, the model works best for those first eight games. Still, it’s always interesting to see what the model calculates.

At least as interesting is the Peyton Manning factor, a player having the second best season of his career (as measured by adjusted yards per attempt). I thought it would be interesting to try and figure out how much of the value above average of the potent Denver Broncos attack that Peyton Manning was responsible for. We’ll start by looking at the simple ranking of the team, divided into the offensive and defensive components. Simple rankings help adapt for the quality of opposition, which for Denver was below league average.

Denver Broncos Simple Ranking Stats
Margin of Victory Strength of Schedule Simple Ranking Defensive Simple Ranking Offensive Simple Ranking
12.47 -1.12 11.35 -3.31 14.65

 

Narrowed down to the essentials, how much of the 14.65 points of Denver offense (above average) was Peyton Manning’s doing? With some pretty simple stats, we can come up with some decent estimates of the Manning contribution to Denver’s value above average.

We’ll start by calculating Peyton’s adjusted yards per attempt, and do so for the league as a whole. We’ll use the Pro Football Reference formula. Later, we’ll use the known conversion factors for AYA to turn that contribution to points, and the subtract the league average from that contribution.

Passing Stats, 2013
Player(s) Completions Attempts Yards Touchdowns Interceptions AYA
Peyton Manning 450 659 5477 55 10 9.3
All NFL passing 11102 18136 120626 804 502 6.3

 

The difference between Peyton Manning’s AYA and the league average is 3 points. Peyton Manning threw 659 times, averaging about 41.2 passes per game. This compares to the average team passing about 35.4 times a game. To convert an AYA into points per 40 passes, the conversion factor is 3.0. This is math people can do in their head. 3 times 3 equals 9 points. In a game situation, in 2013, where Peyton Manning throws 40 passes, he’ll generate 9 points more offense than the average NFL quarterback. So, of the 14.65 points above average that the Denver Broncos generated, Peyton Manning is at least responsible for 61% of that.

Notes:

There is a 0.5 point difference between the AYA reported by Pro Football Reference and the one I calculated for all NFL teams. I suspect PFR came to theirs by taking an average of the AYA of all 32 teams as opposed to calculating the number for all teams. To be sure, we’ll grind the number out step by step.

The yards term: 120626
The TD term: 20 x 804 = 16080
The Int term: 45 x 502 = 22590

120626 + 16080 – 22590 = 114116

Numerator over denominator is:

114116 / 18136 = 6.29223… to two significant digits is 6.3.

My system went 3-0-1 last weekend (Or 3-1 if you consider my prediction in the Bengals – Chargers game a loss, as opposed to “too close to pick”), so time to present playoff odds for the second round of the playoffs.

Divisional Round Playoff Odds
Home Team Visiting Team Score Diff Win Prob Est. Point Spread
Seattle Seahawks New Orleans Saints 0.676 0.663 5.0
Carolina Panthers SF 49ers -0.157 0.461 -1.2
Denver Broncos San Diego Chargers 0.411 0.601 3.0
New England Patriots Indianapolis Colts -0.060 0.485 -0.4

 

Odds that differ by less than a point in estimated point spread are probably not significant, and from my POV, a suggestion that you don’t bet that particular game.