NFL Previews: Colts-Bengals, Panthers-Falcons, Cowboys-Patriots - Opposing Views

NFL Previews: Colts-Bengals, Panthers-Falcons, Cowboys-Patriots

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This week's edition of The Weekly League features

1. Handcrafted previews of the Indianapolis-Cincinnati, Carolina-Atlanta, and Dallas-New England football games.

2. A table of pythagorean records using Expected Points Added, by which measure Minnesota and Carolina show some promise.


3. Lies and other lies.

Indianapolis at Cincinnati | Sunday, October 16 | 1:00pm ET
Four Factors

• If you're curious about which quarterback recorded the highest Adjusted Yards per Attempt (AYPA) last week -- or even if you're really not curious, turns out -- either way, the answer is "Curtis Painter," at 10.3.
• "Curtis Painter" is also the answer to the questions "Which quarterback is third overall (in a limited sample) in terms of Net Yards per Attempt (NY/A, which includes sack yardage but not interceptions)?" and "Which quarterback has been considerably more efficient than Kerry Collins this season, despite playing in the same offense?"
• In terms of questions to which "Curtis Painter" is not the answer, one of them is "Who's the author of the book Cop Kisser?"
• Because the author of that book is Steve Zultanksi, is why.
• Steve Zultanksi, who writes a poem (in that book, Cop Kisser) called "A Poem for Dick Butkus," a stanza from which is "I'm Dick Butkus. / I'm a little / butt."

Carolina at Atlanta | Sunday, October 16 | 1:00pm ET
Four Factors

• Were I being honest, I'd admit that my main interest in this game is how I was able to pick up Harry Douglas off the waiver wire in my fantasy league this week.
• Owing to the absence of Julio Jones (hamstring) and the ineffectiveness of the Carolina pass defense, Douglas is likely to have a good game -- or, good for a waiver-wire pick-up.
• I'm not being honest, though -- for which reason, I'll make the point that the Panthers, who finished last season with the NFL's worst offense (per GWP) currently sport the league's fourth-best offense.
• The chief difference, as you might expect, has been passing efficiency.
• Panthers, 2010: 4.3 NY/A, 69 OPASS+ (32nd). Panthers, 2011: 7.9 NY/A, 114 OPASS+ (6th).

Dallas at New England | Sunday, October 16 | 4:15pm ET
Four Factors

• Owing to each team's respective numbers to date, this game is likely something close to a 50-50 proposition.
• However, owing to the teams' respective records (2-2 for Dallas, 4-1 for New England) -- and reputations, generally -- a Dallas win would likely be hailed as a surprise.
• "We gritted it out, and got the W," all of Dallas will say.
• "Everything is falling apart" will be the cry heard round Boston.
• Or, I should say, that'll continue to be the cry heard around Boston.

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, 0.86). 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 Vikings, for example, have likely been the greatest victims of randomness so far; the Packers, the greatest beneficiaries of it.

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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 Five. 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 the506.com.

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


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