September 25, 2011

Congrats To W17L's Choice For PGA Tour Champion:

Luke Donald!

     Donald would have won the FedEx Cup based on the system I created a month ago, with a handicap-added score of -5.  I seriously question the actual system when the 25th ranked player can surpass the 4th ranked player despite finishing only one shot ahead of him.  Your math is ridiculous, PGA Tour.

     So congratulations to you, Luke Donald, if you ever read this.  I hope you will enjoy this victory, even if you only enjoy it a little bit.

Some Thoughts On The Worst Officiating I Have Ever Seen: Syracuse/Toledo

     Just when I thought I had seen every kind of horrible call in a game, the referees at today's Syracuse/Toledo football matchup proved me wrong.  For those who haven't heard:

     Syracuse had just scored a touchdown to go up 29-27 with 2:07 left in the 4th quarter.  Their kicker then went on to miss the extra point, but the referees ruled that it was good.  The play was then reviewed via instant replay, and despite the fact that even the TV footage showed the ball crossing in front of the goalpost rather than behind it, the officials ruled it a successful extra point.  Toledo was able to kick a game-tying field goal, but ended up losing in overtime, 33-30.

     The first issue that comes up is whether or not the refs cost Toledo the game.  My opinion is that no matter how bad the officials call a game, within reason, a team should be able to overcome it.  For every play in which a referee hurts a team, there are five or ten plays in which that team hurts itself.  Toledo had 1st and goal at Syracuse's 4-yard line in the first quarter.  They failed to score three times and had to kick a field goal.  That's 4 points they cost themselves right there.  Toledo also threw an interception in the end zone and missed a 4th down conversion.  Had they performed better on any one of those plays, Toledo could have won the game.

     The next thing people bring up is whether or not the NCAA should change the official score of the game to a 30-29 Toledo victory.  The Big East head of officiating has issued an apology for the incorrect ruling, so there's no dispute that the game should have gone differently.  While it's easy to get behind the idea of "correcting" the outcome of the game, there's not really a good way to do so.  Just subtracting a point from Syracuse's regulation total is an awful fix, because the play in question happened with two minutes remaining, and that single point completely changed the way those two minutes were played.  A Syracuse defense that can't afford to give up a field goal is going to play a lot differently than a Syracuse defense that can.  They're going to be more aggressive, and maybe they get a key sack by blitzing a couple more guys, maybe they give up a touchdown, maybe they force a turnover.  We'll never know.  If it was the last play of the game that was in question, I could understand a simple changing of the score.  But doing it here is just not right.

     Finally, let me end with a rant.  I feel this is necessary.

     Seriously, how do you blow this call?  This is the simplest thing ever.  Is the ball crossing on the correct side of the goalpost?  Yes or no.  This is not a Calvin Johnson kind of judgement call.  Just watch the broadcast angle.  It got to our homes in 5 seconds!  How did you not get this video, guys?!??!  It was so clear!!!

     Okay, I feel better now.  Thanks.

September 24, 2011

FedEx Cup 3rd Round Update

After the third round, my system for the FedEx Cup and the actual one give these results:

     Hunter Mahan, who started the week in 21st, is now in the lead in projected FedEx Cup points by way of his tie for first at 9-under.  The other player at -9, Aaron Baddeley, started in 27th and is now in 3rd.  Webb Simpson, who started the week in 1st, can win the FedEx Cup if Aaron Baddeley wins the Tour Championship, even though Simpson is 8 shots behind the lead in that event.

     If I ran the FedEx Cup, Luke Donald would still be in the lead, with a handicap-added score of -4.  Second place would go to Jason Day at -2, and Simpson and K.J. Choi would be right behind at -1.  Each of those players began the week in the top 13 of the standings.  Mahan would have a score of +1, and Baddeley would have a score of +4.

If I Ran The FedEx Cup...

...Luke Donald would be winning right now.

     About a month ago, I posted my solution to the boring/confusing nature of the FedEx Cup, the playoff-style finish to the PGA Tour season.  It involved a handicap system for the final tournament, the Tour Championship, so that the Cup winner would be determined by strokes instead of abstract point totals.  Since the Tour Championship is happening right now, I decided to track how my system and the real system work this year.

     In the real system, Adam Scott has gone from 19th to 1st in projected Cup points by gaining a one-stroke lead in the Tour Championship.  Second place belongs to Webb Simpson, who led at the beginning of the current event but is 7 shots back at 1-under.

     In the handicap system, Luke Donald would be leading right now at -4, which is the -6 he's posted in the actual tournament plus two strokes for starting it ranked fourth.  There would be a 4-way tie for second place, with Simpson, K.J. Choi, Matt Kuchar, and Jason Day all tied at -1.  Scott would be sitting in 7th place at 1 over par.

     Liking the handicap system?  Feeling good with the Cup the way it is?  Sound off in the comments below.

September 16, 2011

Readers, I Need Your Help

      I want to have an awesome banner on the top of my page, featuring pictures of NFL players who inspired the name of this blog.  Players who were unknown but played great in the last week of the season and altered the playoff picture.  So far all I have is Erik Walden and Nate Poole.  And since the players I'm looking for are, by definition, unknown, I would love some input from fans of other teams.  Who are the random heroes in your team's history?

September 13, 2011

NFL Coaches And Their Boring Play Calls

     Remember when Cam Newton was in the Jon Gruden QB camp, being belittled because most of the plays he called at Auburn were two-digit numbers?
     I was reminded of that not when Cam was putting up big numbers against Arizona, but the day after, on Monday Night Football.  The commentators were describing the Dolphins' new "left lane" offense, which revolved around more passing and a faster, or even nonexistent, huddle.

     Look around the league, and you'll see tons of examples of fast-paced offense.  A few years ago, Miami began running a lot of plays in the "Wildcat" formation, which put a running back under center in place of a quarterback.  Now somewhere around half of teams use a variation of it.  The Atlanta Falcons experimented with a no-huddle offense this past Sunday.  How about when the positioning of the referees changed, and Peyton Manning got mad because his team was calling plays and lining up faster than the refs could get in their spots?

     NFL coaches always seem to emphasize speed and efficiency, yet they're stuck on the traditional methods of play-calling.  When is one of them going to figure out that they can find exactly what they're looking for in the college game?  Why couldn't "36" replace the standard nine-word play call?  As Newton said, "Simple equals fast."  And when you call a play quickly, the defense is forced to come up with a play just as quickly, they get tired, and they can't make the substitutions they want to.  None of that changes from college to the pros.  That's why NFL coaches always flirt with the idea.  Maybe someday you'll see Jim Harbaugh holding up cards with ESPN personalities' faces and random words on them, just like he's seen from Oregon.  It'll probably work, too.

September 5, 2011

Gut Vs. Gears (And Peter King Too): NFL Picks

     There are a lot experts that try to forecast the NFL season using a variety of methods.  But how do they compare to the average hunch-following fan?  We're about to find out, as I'm challenging WhatIfSports, a statistical analysis/prediction website, and Sports Illustrated's Peter King in the Predict The Season Challenge.

Let's see how the three entries stack up:

WhatIfSports's prediction was the closest to last season's standings.  The average difference between a team's 2010 win total and its projected 2011 win total was 1.4 wins.  Peter King came in at 1.6, and W17L came in at 2.1.

The largest deviation for WIS was 3 wins, most notably the Browns going from 5-11 to 8-8.  King had one pick that changed by 4 wins from last year, the Detroit Lions (6 wins to 10).  W17L had one 5-win deviation, the Chiefs' free-fall from 10-6 to 5-11.

Key team for each entry:

WIS:  Miami (9 projected wins, compared with 5 and 6 for W17L and King)
King:  Buffalo (7 projected wins, compared with 4 on the other two entries)
W17L:  Minnesota (10 projected wins, compared with 7 and 6 for WIS and King)

Enjoy the season, and Go Vikings!  (Oh yeah, I root for the Packers.  This is going to be weird.)

September 1, 2011

Peter King Stole My Super Bowl Pick!

     Even the losing team!  I'm not sure if I should feel really smart or if he should feel really dumb.  Probably the second one.