Oct 112013

Well, that is that, I suppose. There’s no point in playing the rest of the season. The Kansas City Chiefs are your Super Bowl XLVIII champions. (Disappointing, I know, but at least it’s better than a Packer victory.)

Or, maybe not. I’m sure you can provide a litany of reasons why the Chiefs aren’t as good as their 5-0 start. Go ahead; make the case for the Saints. Or the Broncos. Or even the Indianapolis Colts. Nevertheless, at this insanely early point in the season, the numbers say the Chiefs will be standing on the podium come February 2, 2014.

In this case, “the numbers” refers to a system I’m trying out this season, tentatively called “Pythagorean Five”. The results are based on two equations, both developed by Bill James for use in baseball analysis, but which have been applied to football with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

The first is the “Pythagorean Expectation”. The idea is to determine the expected winning percentage based on a team’s points scored and points allowed:

Win% = (Points Scored)^2.37 / ((Points Scored)^2.37 + (Points Allowed)^2.37)

For example, the Detroit Lions have scored 131 points and allowed 123 points. Their Pythagorean Expectation is 53.7%.

The second is “Log5″. This formula gives the probability that Team A will win a game against Team B:

Log5 = (Win%(A) - (Win%(A) * Win%(B)) / (Win%(A) + Win%(B) - (2 * Win%(A) * Win%(B))

For example, Detroit (53.7%) is playing Cleveland (54.2%) on Sunday. Detroit’s Log5 value for this game is 49.5%.

The methodology is simple: compute each team’s Pythagorean Expectation, then determine its Log5 against each remaining opponent. The sum of these values is the number of wins the team should have at the end of the season. For the playoffs, the probability of each outcome for all potential matchups are then determined to estimate the chance of each playoff team winning its conference championship and the Super Bowl.

How accurate is it? Only time will tell, but at the moment, 27 of 32 teams are within one win of where they “should” be based on the Pythagorean Five system, while the average error in winning percentage is approximately 12%.

American Football Conference
North South East West
Cleveland Browns 9.1 (+1.4)
Cincinnati Bengals 9.04 (+1.3)
Baltimore Ravens 9.02 (+0.5)
Pittsburgh Steelers 2.8 (-0.2)
Indianapolis Colts 12.4 (+0.3)
Tennessee Titans 9.5 (-0.8)
Houston Texans 5.5 (-1.6)
Jacksonville Jaguars 0.7 (+0.2)
New England Patriots 11.1 (-1.1)
Miami Dolphins 8.7 (-0.3)
New York Jets 7.2 (+1.1)
Buffalo Bills 7.0 (-1.0)
Kansas City Chiefs 14.1 (+0.1)
Denver Broncos 12.5 (-0.1)
Oakland Raiders 6.9 (+1.6)
San Diego Chargers 6.7 (-1.0)


National Football Conference
North South East West
Green Bay Packers 9.8 (+1.2)
Detroit Lions 9.5 (-1.5)
Chicago Bears 9.4 (+0.3)
Minnesota Vikings 6.3 (+0.1)
New Orleans Saints 13.5 (+0.5)
Carolina Panthers 8.5 (-2.9)
Atlanta Falcons 5.7 (-0.3)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2.8 (-0.1)
Dallas Cowboys 8.5 (-0.9)
Philadelphia Eagles 7.0 (+1.0)
Washington Redskins 5.8 (-0.1)
New York Giants 1.6 (+0.1)
Seattle Seahawks 12.7 (-1.7)
San Francisco 49ers 9.5 (+2.1)
Arizona Cardinals 8.1 (+1.7)
St. Louis Rams 4.9 (+1.2)


Playoff Chances
AFC Championship NFC Championship Super Bowl XLVIII
Kansas City Chiefs 50%
Indianapolis Colts 27%
Denver Broncos 13%
New England Patriots 6%
Tennessee Titans 3%
Cleveland Browns 1%
New Orleans Saints 46%
Seattle Seahawks 36%
Green Bay Packers 6%
San Francisco 49ers 5%
Dallas Cowboys 4%
Detroit Lions 3%
Kansas City Chiefs (4) 33%
New Orleans Saints (2) 22%
Seattle Seahawks (3) 16%
Indianapolis Colts (5) 15%
Denver Broncos (1) 7%
Green Bay (11), New England (6) 2%
Dallas (13), Detroit (12), San Francisco (7), Tennessee (14) 1%
Cleveland Browns (20) 0%


Teams are ranked by expected number of wins. The value in parentheses is the change in expected win total since last week. Under “Super Bowl”, the number in parentheses is the current Gridiron Rats Power Ranking.

Danny Boy

Hi. I'm Dan. I like football, baseball, and cheese. Also beer. I live in Colorado, where we have good beer and great football. Baseball and cheese? Not so much.

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