Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Playoff Implications - Week 5

Here is your week 5 guide to playoff implications. The purpose of this feature is to highlight games that have a significant impact on the playoff picture (see this post for background).

The playoff implications below are derived from the same simulation I run to calculate playoff seed probabilities for my daily NFL rankings. I can group the simulation runs by the outcome of each game and then see how a team's playoff chances vary between the two groups. The interactive table at the bottom of the post will allow you to see corresponding results for any game or team.

Ranking Week 5 Games by Leverage

The table below ranks the week 5 games by total leverage. Leverage in this context is a measure of both how uncertain a game's outcome is (games between evenly matched teams have higher leverage) and how much the playoff picture swings as a result of that outcome.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Playoff Implications - Week 4

Here is your week 4 guide to playoff implications. The purpose of this feature is to highlight games that have a significant impact on the playoff picture (see this post for background).

The playoff implications below are derived from the same simulation I run to calculate playoff seed probabilities for my daily NFL rankings. I can group the simulation runs by the outcome of each game and then see how a team's playoff chances vary between the two groups. The interactive table at the bottom of the post will allow you to see corresponding results for any game or team.

Ranking Week 4 Games by Leverage

The table below ranks the week 4 games by total leverage. Leverage in this context is a measure of both how uncertain a game's outcome is (games between evenly matched teams have higher leverage) and how much the playoff picture swings as a result of that outcome.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

College Football Rankings Now Available

Betting market rankings for college football are now available (and will update daily). As I did with my NFL rankings, I have moved these to a new home which will hopefully be more stable. Here is the link: College Football Betting Market Rankings.

All of the features outlined in this post are back: Generic Points Favored (total, offense, defense), projected wins, and strength of schedule rankings (both past and future). Some observations:

  • Oregon currently tops the week 5 rankings, but not by much. The top six teams are all within a couple points of each other (Oregon, Alabama, Baylor, Auburn, Florida State, and Oklahoma)
  • I have Marshall at a 50/50 shot of going undefeated in the regular season (not counting the Conference USA championship game).
  • SEC teams occupy ten of the top 24 spots in these rankings.

For those doing their own research/handicapping, there is also a link to a Google Docs version of the rankings (includes all teams, not just the top 50).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Playoff Implications - Week 3

After a one week hiatus, playoff implications are back for week 3. The purpose of this feature is to highlight games that have a significant impact on the playoff picture (see this post for background).

The playoff implications below are derived from the same simulation I run to calculate playoff seed probabilities for my daily NFL rankings. I can group the simulation runs by the outcome of each game and then see how a team's playoff chances vary between the two groups. The interactive table at the bottom of the post will allow you to see corresponding results for any game or team.

Ranking Week 3 Games by Leverage

The table below ranks the week 3 games by total leverage. Leverage in this context is a measure of both how uncertain a game's outcome is (games between evenly matched teams have higher leverage) and how much the playoff picture swings as a result of that outcome.

Friday, September 5, 2014

NFL Rankings

Just a heads up that, due to circumstances beyond my control, my NFL rankings may only be updated intermittently over the next week or so. In addition, the rankings may look a bit odd from time to time until we get at least three weeks of "real" point spreads. Opening lines for week 3 are usually set sometime in between weeks 1 and 2.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Playoff Implications - Week 1

Too soon? Or not soon enough? The purpose of this feature is to highlight games that have a significant impact on the playoff picture (see this post for background). It may seem premature to start talking playoffs already, but with a sixteen game schedule, even week one results can create meaningful shifts in the postseason outlook.

The playoff implications below are derived from the same simulation I run to calculate playoff seed probabilities for my daily NFL rankings. I can group the simulation runs by the outcome of each game and then see how a team's playoff chances vary between the two groups.

For example, the Bengals' chances of making the playoffs can swing by 24%, depending on the outcome of their season opener against the Ravens. If the Bengals win, their expected playoff probability is 63%. They lose and it's significantly lower at 38%. The interactive table at the bottom of the post will allow you to see corresponding results for any game or team.

Ranking Week 1 Games by Leverage

The table below ranks the week 1 games by total leverage. Leverage in this context is a measure of both how uncertain a game's outcome is (games between evenly matched teams have higher leverage) and how much the playoff picture swings as a result of that outcome.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Daily NFL Rankings - With Playoff Seed Projections

My betting market rankings for the NFL are now up and running (see here for the first look). To improve access to the table, which had been spotty, I had to move the rankings to a new location. Here is the new URL: NFL Betting Market Rankings. The old url should redirect automatically to the new one, but it's probably a good idea to update bookmarks.

All of the old features are back: sparklines, playoff seed projections, and strength of schedule.

Playoff Seeds

There is a series of odd looking bar graphs under the "Projected Seed" column. Each bar in the graph represents the probability of a team achieving a particular playoff seed. The bars run left to right from seed 16 to seed 1. The top six seeds make the playoffs and are colored blue on the graph. The probabilities are based on a 5,000 round monte carlo simulation of the regular season. These will be updated daily with the latest game results and point spreads.

Here is a look at Seattle's seed probabilities:



The most likely outcome for Seattle is a #1 seed (26% probability). The second most likely outcome is a 5th seed (18% probability). This is due to Seattle being in the same division as the #3 ranked team, the 49ers (the top 4 seeds are reserved for the division winners). Here is San Francisco's corresponding seed probabilities:



To the left of each bar graph is a percentage, which represents a team's probability of making the playoffs. To open the season, the Broncos have the highest playoff probability at ~90%. They are ranked below the Seahawks, but have better playoffs odds due to a weaker schedule.

Strength of Schedule

There are two columns to the far right of the table: pSOS and fSOS. These columns are the average GPF (Generic Points Favored) of a team's past and future opponents, respectively (home field advantage is factored into the averages).

The team with the toughest schedule this season is the Arizona Cardinals, who get to face the Seahawks and 49ers twice, as well as matchups against top tier teams like the Broncos and Eagles.

The team with the easiest schedule is the Houston Texans, due to the extremely soft AFC South and their prior season finish as the last place team.

The Rankings

Eyeballing the latest version of the table, we can break down teams into a few broad categories:
  • The Elite: Seahawks, Broncos, 49ers, Packers, Patriots, and Saints
  • The Above Average: Panthers, Eagles, Bengals, Bears, Lions, Colts, Steelers, Chiefs, Falcons, Cardinals
  • The Mediocre: Chargers, Giants, Dolphins, Texans, Rams, Redskins, Buccaneers, Jets, Bills, Browns, Titans, Vikings
  • The Raiders and the Jaguars