Sunday, January 8, 2012

Should we have seen the Denver upset over Pittsburgh coming?

So Denver just beat Pittsburgh 29-23 in overtime.  Should we have seen it coming?

First, let me be clear, my computer did not pick the upset.  It did pick Denver plus the points, but it bases its picks on the entire season of games and based on that it said Pittsburgh should win by 3.5.  However, the point of the computer isn't to just blindly take the picks as gospel, but to use it as an important source of data along with other factors.

So, what are the other factors?  A key one I always include in the previews is a performance chart.  As a reminder, here was Denver's.

We can see a tale of different Denver teams.  Early, with Orton, they weren't that good.  They were better with Tebow, a different team, particularly in the 6 game streak, but did have 4 poor games.

One can easily make the case that the first 5 games with Orton shouldn't be included as they aren't reflective of the current Denver team.  Looking at their average over the last 11 games, it increases to 80.9, about a point and a half ratings increase.

Then, not to ignore the 4 bad games with Tebow, but the chart shows their results are either up, or down, not usually something in between.  So if you assume you are going to get the good Denver/Tebow, one could look at just those 7 games.  The average in those is an astounding 87.4.

Now, let's take a look at Pittsburgh.

They too had some up and down results, although they didn't have a major change like Denver did with their quarterback and offensive system change.  So it is harder to argue that any games should be dropped.  Further, they finished down a bit due to Rothlisberger's injury and that was probably reflective of the team that played today.  So, sticking with their 86.1 rating probably makes sense.

So, if you expected the "good" Denver to show up, Denver was the better team, 87.4 to 86.1.  Add in home field advantage and they were nearly a 4 point pick.

So, perhaps we should have seen the upset coming.  Certainly the computer's analysis and charts could help get there.

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