NFL Week 7 Previews: Bears-Bucs, Packers-Vikings, Colts-Saints

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This week's edition of The Weekly League features

1. Largely superficial previews of the Chicago-Tampa Bay, Green Bay-Minnesota, and Indianapolis-New Orleans pro football games.

2. A table of pythagorean records using Expected Points Added, by which measure the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are exposed!!!1!


3. Armchair Psychology, Armchair Statistics, and Armchair Other Sciences.

Chicago at Tampa Bay | Sunday, October 23 | 1:00pm ET
Four Factors

• This seems like an appropriate time to do a Jay Cutler Sack Attack update.
• Doing so, we find that Cutler has been sacked 19 times in six games this season -- but that only five of those sacks have come over the last three games.
• Question: Is that an (a) trend or (b) product of arbitrary endpoints?
• Answer: We don't know.
• Or, rather: I, personally, don't know. There's maybe someone who does.

Green Bay at Minnesota | Sunday, October 23 | 4:15pm ET
Four Factors

• To the extent that the people of the Upper Midwest can harbor contempt for any one or thing, the fans of the Vikings and Packers appear to harbor contempt for each other.
• To the extent that the quality of one's football team represents the virtue of the people from said team's city and region, the people of Green Bay and Environs are -- currently, at least -- more virtuous than their Twin Cities counterparts.
• Surely, as the table towards the bottom of this post reveals, the Vikings are probably unlucky not to have two or three wins right now, and the Packers are lucky to have six -- as opposed to, say, four or five.
• Still, the Packer passing game is the best in the league right now, both in terms of EPA per play (0.42) and net yards per attempt (8.8).
• And it's a testament to quarterback Aaron Rodgers (and the Packer O-line) that wide receivers Jordy Nelson and James Jones -- i.e. not the most physically impressive and/or talented receivers in the NFL -- rank second and third, respectively, in terms of yards per target.

Indianapolis at New Orleans | Sunday, October 23 | 8:20pm ET
Four Factors

• Here's a curious thing: Indianapolis quarterback Curtis Painter, who entered last week averaging the highest rate of deep (i.e. greater than 15-yard) pass attempts -- albeit, yes, in a small sample -- made the second-fewest deep pass attempts by volume (5.9%) last week against Cincinnati.
• It's likely for this reason that he finished the game with a mere 3.8 adjusted yards per attempt (AYPA).
• Despite the mediocre performance, Painter is still fourth in the league by AYPA, at 6.6.
• That's better, for example, than very talented Saints QB Drew Brees (6.2 AYPA).
• All of which is to say, I recommend watching Curtis Painter play football.

Table: Pythagorean Record by Expected Points Added
The table below represents an attempt to express each team's pythagorean record using Expected Points Added. To do so, I began by putting EPA (both for and against) on the same scale as points for and against. For each team, I've added their EPA to the product of league average points per team (per game) multiplied by a constant (in this case, 0.849). PTS/g and OPTS/g are points and opponents points per game. EPTS/g and OEPTS/g are EPA points and opponent EPA points per game. Luck is the difference between points and EPA points, where red represetns bad luck; green, good luck. EPW, EPL, and EWIN% are the team's pythagorean wins, losses, and win percentage (with 2.37 as the exponent) using EPTS and OEPTS. WLUCK is the difference between actual wins and EPW, where red represetns bad luck; green, good luck. The Panthers, for example, have likely been the greatest victims of randomness so far; the Bucs, the greatest beneficiaries of it.

The Four Factors you see for each game represent each team's performance in four important categories (offensive pass efficiency and run success rate and also opponent pass efficiency and defensive run success rate) relative to league average (where 100 is league average and anything above is good).

Along with the Four Factors, you'll see two other headings: Generic Win Probability (GWP) and Game Probability (PROB). The GWP is the probability a team would beat the league average team at a neutral site. The most recent GWPs for all teams here. The PROB is each respective team's chance of winning this particular contest. Your host, Brian Burke, provides PROBs to the New York Times each week starting in Week Four. This week's numbers (along with methodology) can be found here.

The above games have been chosen as they'll be available to the greatest portion of the network-watching audience, per the NFL maps at

Finally, a glossary of all unfamiliar terms can be found here.