Saturday, January 05, 2008

NFL Teams 2007 compared with referees in their games

What if we pretend that the main "opponent" that a team faces in a game is the referee and whether that referee tends to favor the home or visiting team?

In that imaginary situation, we can check whether a particular team had a ref that favored visiting teams when it was the visiting team and whether it had a ref that favored the home teams in its home games.

We can then add it up across the season and see which teams had the easiest or hardest referee schedule (assuming that referees consistently tend to favor either the home or visiting teams) and we can see how much better each team did against the projected wins!

Let's start with the teams with the easiest and hardest "referee schedule":

Easiest schedules:
Seattle: 9.21 projected wins, 10 actual wins
Indianapolis: 9.17 projected wins, 13 actual wins
Tennessee: 8.89 projected, 10 actual
Minnesota: 8.72 projected, 8 actual
Detroit: 8.72 projected, 7 actual
Dallas: 8.60 projected, 13 actual

Hardest schedules:
St Louis: 6.64 projected, 3 actual
Chicago: 7.04 projected, 7 actual
Atlanta: 7.15 projected, 4 actual
New Orleans: 7.30 projected, 7 actual
San Diego: 7.33 projected, 11 actual (wow, San Diego had a hard schedule yet still made the playoffs)

Here's the list of the teams that did the best over the projected wins, relying only on the referee schedule (which of course is an artifical scenario):
New England: 7.82 (16-8.18)
Green Bay: 5.02 (13-7.98)
Dallas: 4.40 (13-8.60)
Indianapolis: 3.83 (13-9.17)
San Diego: 3.67 (11-7.33)
Jacksonville: 3.20 (11-7.80)
Cleveland: 1.89 (10-8.11)
New York Giants: 1.87 (10-8.13)

at the bottom:
Miami: -6.65 (1-7.65)
Kansas City: -4.01 (4-8.01)
Oakland: -3.85 (4-7.85)
St Louis: -3.64 (3-6.64)
New York Jets: -3.42 (4-7.42)
Atlanta: -3.15 (4-7.15)

Let's use these limited statistics to check out Washington at Seattle in the wild card game:
Washington: 0.46 adjusted wins (9-8.54) versus Seattle: 0.79 adjusted wins (10-9.21)
If perhaps Walt Coleman is the referee (47% home win rate), then you tack in the adjusted wins, that would mean Seattle would have a 49% chance of winning, ignoring such critical factors as how good their players are and how tough their opponents are.

Clearly, there are tons of limitations to this analysis!


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