This week's edition of The Weekly League features
1. Yet another in a series of paeans to the San Diego Chargers.
2. Some very brief, largely unhelpful notes about three NFL games.
3. The courage of a lion.
The Four Factors you see for each game represent each team's raw performance thus far in four important categories (pass and rush efficiency, pass and rush efficiency against) relative to league average (where 100 is league average and anything above is good).
Along with the Four Factors, you'll see two other numbers: 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. It can be found 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, and those numbers (along with methodology) can be found here.
Finally, a glossary of all unfamiliar terms can be found here.
New England at Dan Diego | Sunday, October 24 | 4:15pm ET
For the footballing enthusiast, this is really the game of the week. For two reasons. For one, it'll be broadcast on network television into nearly every home east of the Mississippi (and many west of it, too). For two, it features a Charger team that is quickly becoming a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside of a -- well, you know.
The Old Luck-Skill Conundrum
In last week's episode of The Weekly League, I submitted a table for the reader's consideration that included the actual win-loss records and GWP records for each NFL team, and then the difference between each team's actual and generic wins. Essentially, the goal with such an exercise is to separate, as best we can, a team's "true talent" from the effects of random variation.
Here's that same table, through Week Six, sorted by unluckiest (green) to luckiest (red) teams:
You'll notice, this week, that not only is San Diego towards the top of the list, but that they are the top. The Patriots, meanwhile, are playing like a .500 team.
In re the Charger Receiving Situation
Owing to injury, neither Malcolm Floyd nor Legedu Naanee will play versus New England this week. Those two players account for about 30% of all targets for the Chargers this season. Antonio Gates, who himself has accounted for another 20% of targets, is a game-time decision with a toe injury.
This creates an odd situation for the Chargers, as they'll essentially be starting an entirely different receiving corps than the one they've deployed through the season's first six weeks.
So who'll be starting? Very likely the No. 1 receiving option will become Patrick Crayton. For his career (2004-09), Crayton has averaged 0.43 EPA/P and 8.9 YPT -- both above-average numbers (albeit on a generally above-average passing team). Of course, he's also basically never been a No. 1 option, either.
On the other side of the line, we'll very likely find Craig "Buster" Davis. Davis has actually been targeted 15 times over the past two weeks -- to Crayton's 11. That's not a huge sample, no, but that number -- combined with the relatively lower share of deep targets (27.6%, compared to Crayton's 56.3%) -- probably reveals the sort of role he'll take. In other words, we can probably expect him to run shorter routes while Crayton "stretches the field."
In the event that you missed it, Owner-Operator Brian Burke wrote an analysis of this game for some alternative, and totally underground, newspaper.
Minnesota at Green Bay | Sunday, October 24 | 8:20pm ET
Aaron Rodgers is a dreamboat! Brett Favre is a disgusting old man! Discuss!
New York Giants at Dallas | Monday, October 25 | 8:30pm ET
Dallas is probably actually good. But if they lose tonight, the general consensus will be that they're a giant failure.