Nate Silver Picks Seahawks a Week After Breitbart Sports Headline

Nate Silver Picks Seahawks a Week After Breitbart Sports Headline

Last week I put myself on the line prior to the Redskins playoff game by stating bluntly that the Seattle Seahawks were the best team in the NFL the second half of the year. After the Seahawks backed up that statement by being the only road team to win their playoff game, Nate Silver followed our lead.  Just two months after Silver picked the Seahawks to lose at home to the lowly New York Jets, he went on ESPN today to pick them to go to the Superbowl. Here are the analytics that indicate he may be overemphasizing the Seahawks 58-0 win against the Cardinals over more impressive late season wins by the Falcons and Packers:

The problem with most analytics is that every point is just as valuable in a calculation. This can only be solved by our system of using the square root of victory margins to rank teams. For example, the Cardinals combined margin of victory against the Dolphins and Cardinals two weeks apart was 55 points.

However, that gives equal weight to the final touchdown the Seahawks scored to make it 58-0 against the Cardinals and the touchdown they did NOT score in the 21-24 loss to the Dolphins. In our system, the final touchdown against the Cardinals barely changed the Seahawks rating, improving the square root of their margin of victory only 0.48 (7.14 was the square root of a 51-point win while 7.62 was the square root of their actual 58-point win. However, if they had instead scored that extra touchdown against the Dolphins it would have been worth more than 10 times as much as the final. score verses the Dolphins, changing them from a -1.56 (3 point loss) to a 2.39 (4-point win) for an improvement of 4.95.

When you run the numbers for every game played by the eight remaining playoff teams, the 58-0 win over the Cardinals is only the 40th best performance of the year:

1. Green Bay’s 42-24 win at Houston in Week 6 (7.55 Total)

2. San Francisco’s 41-34 win at New England in Week 15 (7.40)

3. Seattle’s 42-13 win at home against San Francisco in Week 16 (7.17)

4. Atlanta’s 34-0 win at home against the NY Giants in Week 15 (7.14)

5. Denver’s 34-17 in at Baltimore in week 15 (6.96) You can look at how well each team performed every week of the year below.

In addition to the overall Total average performance for the year, we list their “streak” just to the left of that total. This gives a weighted score multiplying their last meaningful game (we skipped games in which starters didn’t play in Week 17) multiplied by 5, then the next to last game by 4, etc. Here is how the match-ups look for the this weekend:

1. Denver has a clear edge over Baltimore. Whether going by the Season Total (2.55 to 1.13 in favor of Denver) or the Weighted Streak total (3.81 to 2.71) Denver is more than 1 rating point higher even before adding the 1.00 for home advantage, so a clear favorite. Once you square the margin back for the total it’s Denver by 5.85 based on the season or 4.41 based on the hotter team – but the formula doesn’t know Ray Lewis missed a lot of those game! If both home teams win in the AFC, it would be Denver by 2.28 over the Patriots or 3.84 if based on the hotter team.

2. By the same math, San Francisco is only 1.46 better than the Packers for the season by the Packers are a full 4.79 points better based on who is hottest. The Packers would be a very slight favorite over the Seahawks in Green Bay, but the Seahawks would be have the edge as the hotter team over San Francisco after blowing them out late in the season.

3. The Falcons would be a 0.55 point favorite vs. Seattle, but based on who is hottest the Seahawks would be a 3.61 point favorite.

4. New England would be the surest best this weekend, at 4.37 better than Houston for the season and 6.15 based on who is hottest. Below is the table for the ratings of every game played by every playoff team this year:

WK Atlanta season Pts Opp Margin sqrt margin Home Opp Rating Total
1 Kansas City 40 24 16 4.00 1.00 -3.66 1.34
2 Denver 27 21 6 2.45 -1.00 3.46 4.91
3 San Diego 27 3 24 4.90 1.00 0.00 5.90
4 Carolina 30 28 2 1.41 -1.00 -0.61 -0.20
5 Washington 24 17 7 2.65 1.00 1.73 5.38
6 Oakland 23 20 3 1.73 -1.00 -3.09 -2.36
8 Philadelphia 30 17 13 3.61 1.00 -3.20 1.40
9 Dallas 19 13 6 2.45 -1.00 -1.22 0.22
10 New Orleans 27 31 -4 -2.00 1.00 0.66 -0.34
11 Arizona 23 19 4 2.00 -1.00 -2.59 -1.59
12 Tampa Bay 24 23 1 1.00 1.00 -0.56 1.44
13 New Orleans 23 13 10 3.16 -1.00 0.66 2.82
14 Carolina 20 30 -10 -3.16 1.00 -0.61 -2.77
15 NY Giants 34 0 34 5.83 -1.00 2.30 7.14
16 Detroit 31 18 13 3.61 1.00 -2.02 2.59
17 Tampa Bay 17 22 -5 -2.24 -1.00 -0.56 -3.80
  Tot Atlanta           streak 3.43 1.38
WK Baltimore Season Pts Opp Margin sqrt margin Home Opp Rating Total
1 Cincinnati 44 13 31 5.57 -1.00 2.11 6.67
2 Philadelphia 23 24 -1 -1.00 1.00 -3.20 -3.20
3 New England 31 30 1 1.00 -1.00 3.76 3.76
4 Cleveland 23 16 7 2.65 -1.00 -2.03 -0.39
5 Kansas City 9 6 3 1.73 1.00 -3.66 -0.93
6 Dallas 31 29 2 1.41 -1.00 -1.22 -0.81
7 Houston 13 43 -30 -5.48 1.00 2.30 -2.17
9 Cleveland 25 15 10 3.16 1.00 -2.03 2.13
10 Oakland 55 20 35 5.92 -1.00 -3.09 1.82
11 Pittsburgh 13 10 3 1.73 1.00 1.17 3.90
12 San Diego (OT) 16 13 3 1.00 1.00 0.00 2.00
13 Pittsburgh 20 23 -3 -1.73 -1.00 1.17 -1.56
14 Washington (OT) 28 31 -3 -1.00 1.00 1.73 1.73
15 Denver 17 34 -17 -4.12 -1.00 3.46 -1.66
16 New York 33 14 19 4.36 -1.00 2.30 5.66
17 Cincinnati 17 23 -6 -2.45 1.00 2.11 0.66
18 Indianapolis 24 9 15 3.87 -1.00 -1.37 1.50
  Tot Baltimore           streak 2.71 1.13
WK Denver Season Pts Opp Margin sqrt margin Home Opp Rating Total
1 Pittsburgh 31 19 12 3.46 -1.00 1.17 3.64
2 Atlanta 21 27 -6 -2.45 1.00 2.74 1.29
3 Houston 25 31 -6 -2.45 -1.00 2.30 -1.14
4 Oakland 37 6 31 5.57 -1.00 -3.09 1.48
5 New England 21 31 -10 -3.16 1.00 3.76 1.60
6 San Diego 35 24 11 3.32 1.00 0.00 4.32
8 New Orleans 34 14 20 4.47 -1.00 0.66 4.13
9 Cincinnati 31 23 8 2.83 1.00 2.11 5.93
10 Carolina 36 14 22 4.69 1.00 -0.61 5.08
11 San Diego 30 23 7 2.65 -1.00 0.00 1.65
12 Kansas City 17 9 8 2.83 1.00 -3.66 0.17
13 Tampa Bay 31 23 8 2.83 -1.00 -0.56 1.27
14 Oakland 26 13 13 3.61 1.00 -3.09 1.51
15 Baltimore 34 17 17 4.12 1.00 1.84 6.96
16 Cleveland 34 12 22 4.69 -1.00 -2.03 1.66
17 Kansas City 38 3 35 5.92 -1.00 -3.66 1.26
  Tot Denver           streak 3.81 2.55
WK Green Bay Season Pts Opp Margin sqrt margin Home Opp Rating Total
1 San Francisco 22 30 -8 -2.83 -1.00 2.78 -1.04
2 Chicago 23 10 13 3.61 -1.00 2.47 5.08
3 Seattle 12 14 -2 -1.41 1.00 3.23 2.82
4 New Orleans 28 27 1 1.00 -1.00 0.66 0.66
5 Indianapolis 27 30 -3 -1.73 1.00 -1.37 -2.10
6 Houston 42 24 18 4.24 1.00 2.30 7.55
7 St. Louis 30 20 10 3.16 1.00 -1.75 2.41
8 Jacksonville 24 15 9 3.00 -1.00 -3.44 -1.44
9 Arizona 31 17 14 3.74 -1.00 -2.59 0.16
11 Detroit 24 20 4 2.00 1.00 -2.02 0.98
12 NY Giants 10 38 -28 -5.29 1.00 2.30 -1.99
13 Minnesota 23 14 9 3.00 -1.00 1.39 3.39
14 Detroit 27 20 7 2.65 -1.00 -2.02 -0.37
15 Chicago 21 13 8 2.83 1.00 2.47 6.30
16 Tennessee 55 7 48 6.93 -1.00 -2.97 2.96
17 Minnesota 34 37 -3 -1.73 1.00 1.39 0.66
18 Minnesota 24 10 14 3.74 -1.00 1.39 4.13
  Tot Green Bay           average 5.41 1.77
WK Houston Season Pts Opp Margin sqrt margin Home Opp Rating Total
1 Miami 30 10 20 4.47 -1.00 -1.35 2.13
2 Jacksonville 27 7 20 4.47 1.00 -3.44 2.04
3 Denver 31 25 6 2.45 1.00 3.46 6.91
4 Tennessee 38 14 24 4.90 -1.00 -2.97 0.93
5 NY Jets 23 17 6 2.45 1.00 -2.42 1.03
6 Green Bay 24 42 -18 -4.24 -1.00 2.46 -2.78
7 Baltimore 43 13 30 5.48 -1.00 1.84 6.31
9 Buffalo 21 9 12 3.46 -1.00 -2.38 0.08
10 Chicago 13 6 7 2.65 1.00 2.47 6.12
11 Jacksonville (OT) 43 37 6 1.00 -1.00 -3.44 -3.44
12 Detroit (OT) 34 31 3 1.00 1.00 -2.02 -0.02
13 Tennessee 24 10 14 3.74 1.00 -2.97 1.77
14 New England 14 42 -28 -5.29 1.00 3.76 -0.53
15 Indianapolis 29 17 12 3.46 -1.00 -1.37 1.09
16 Minnesota 6 23 -17 -4.12 -1.00 1.39 -3.73
17 Indianapolis 16 28 -12 -3.46 1.00 -1.37 -3.83
18 Cincinnati 19 13 6 1.00 -1.00 2.10 2.10
  Tot Houston           streak -1.44 0.95
WK NE Season Pts Opp Margin sqrt margin Home Opp Rating Total
1 Tennessee 34 13 21 4.58 1.00 -2.97 2.61
2 Arizona 18 20 -2 -1.41 -1.00 -2.59 -5.00
3 Baltimore 30 31 -1 -1.00 1.00 1.84 1.84
4 Buffalo 52 28 24 4.90 1.00 -2.38 3.51
5 Denver 31 21 10 3.16 -1.00 3.46 5.63
6 Seattle 23 24 -1 -1.00 1.00 3.23 3.23
7 NY Jets (OT) 29 26 3 1.00 -1.00 -2.42 -2.42
8 St. Louis 45 7 38 6.16 1.00 -1.75 5.41
10 Buffalo 37 31 6 2.45 -1.00 -2.38 -0.94
11 Indianapolis 59 24 35 5.92 -1.00 -1.37 3.55
12 NY Jets 49 19 30 5.48 1.00 -2.42 4.05
13 Miami 23 16 7 2.65 1.00 -1.35 2.30
14 Houston 42 14 28 5.29 -1.00 2.30 6.60
15 San Francisco 34 41 -7 -2.65 -1.00 2.78 -0.86
16 Jacksonville 23 16 7 2.65 1.00 -3.44 0.21
17 Miami 28 0 28 5.29 -1.00 -1.35 2.95
  Tot NE           streak 2.85 2.04
WK SF Season Pts Opp Margin sqrt margin Home Opp Rating Total
1 Green Bay 30 22 8 2.83 1.00 2.46 6.29
2 Detroit 27 19 8 2.83 -1.00 -2.02 -0.19
3 Minnesota 13 24 -11 -3.32 1.00 1.39 -0.92
4 NY Jets 34 0 34 5.83 1.00 -2.42 4.41
5 Buffalo 45 3 42 6.48 -1.00 -2.38 3.10
6 NY Giants 3 26 -23 -4.80 -1.00 2.30 -3.49
7 Seattle 13 6 7 2.65 -1.00 3.23 4.88
8 Arizona 24 3 21 4.58 1.00 -2.59 3.00
10 St. Louis (OT) 24 24 0 0.00 -1.00 -1.75 -2.75
11 Chicago 32 7 25 5.00 -1.00 2.47 6.47
12 New Orleans 31 21 10 3.16 1.00 0.66 4.82
13 St. Louis (OT) 13 16 -3 -1.00 1.00 -1.75 -1.75
14 Miami 27 13 14 3.74 -1.00 -1.35 1.40
15 New England 41 34 7 2.65 1.00 3.76 7.40
16 Seattle 13 42 -29 -5.39 1.00 3.23 -1.15
17 Arizona 27 13 14 3.74 -1.00 -2.59 0.16
  Tot SF           streak 1.94 1.98
WK Seattle season Pts Opp Margin sqrt margin Home Opp Rating Total
1 Arizona 16 20 -4 -2.00 1.00 -2.59 -3.59
2 Dallas 27 7 20 4.47 -1.00 -1.22 2.25
3 Green Bay 14 12 2 1.41 -1.00 2.46 2.88
4 St. Louis 13 19 -6 -2.45 1.00 -1.75 -3.20
5 Carolina 16 12 4 2.00 1.00 -0.61 2.39
6 New England 24 23 1 1.00 -1.00 3.76 3.76
7 San Francisco 6 13 -7 -2.65 1.00 2.78 1.14
8 Detroit 24 28 -4 -2.00 1.00 -2.02 -3.02
9 Minnesota 30 20 10 3.16 -1.00 1.39 3.55
10 NY Jets 28 7 21 4.58 -1.00 -2.42 1.16
12 Miami 21 24 -3 -1.73 1.00 -1.35 -2.08
13 Chicago (OT) 23 17 6 1.00 1.00 2.47 4.47
14 Arizona 58 0 58 7.62 -1.00 -2.59 4.03
15 Buffalo 50 17 33 5.74 1.00 -2.38 4.36
16 San Francisco 42 13 29 5.39 -1.00 2.78 7.17
17 St. Louis 20 13 7 2.65 -1.00 -1.75 -0.10
18 Washington 24 14 10 3.16 1.00 1.73 5.89
  Tot Seattle           streak 6.33 1.83

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