Home > NFL > August 23 – What’s it worth?, NFL Re-Previews (Part 3 of 8)

August 23 – What’s it worth?, NFL Re-Previews (Part 3 of 8)

So, let’s say you were in my shoes, trying to predict outcomes – Here’s an open-ended question: How many points is a turnover worth? It took me a while to come up with an algorithm to address the question, so I will take you through the beginning of my thought process.

In essence, what is a turnover? Well, in its simplest terms, it’s a change of possession. So, maybe a turnover should be the value of a possession. The league average value of a possession was just short of 2 points (so – lets say the Eagles were an average team – then if they had the ball 10 times a game they would score about 20 points). So – a turnover should be worth just short of 2 points. However, this seemed to me to be undervalued. Turnovers have much more variance of where you start with the ball. In fact, many times, the turnover itself results in a touchdown. So can a turnover be really compared to a regular possession, where more often than not the drive starts around the possessing team’s 35 yard line? Probably not.

So maybe we should say that when one is the beneficiary of a turnover, it’s equally likely they score a touchdown, kick a field goal, or don’t score at all. If that’s the case, a turnover would be worth 3.333 points. That’s more points than the average possession idea above, but still brings up more questions: Does every team take such advantage of a turnover at that ratio? If both the 2010 Saints and the 2010 Rams turned over their opponents and got the ball on their opponent’s 30 yard line, would they both be as likely to score a TD, FG or zippo at the same rate?

I’ll stop there for now – give you guys some food for thought. Let me know what you think – start up a conversation below. I will leave you with one fact though: Of all the stats I use in my model (yards, rush yards, pass yards, scoring percentages, play calls, etc. etc. etc.), the one stat that most correlates to wins/losses? You guessed it – turnovers.

On to the NFC South :

Atlanta Falcons :

Atlanta was hurt by injuries last year. Both Michael Turner and Matt Ryan spent time on the shelf. 2008, proved, however, that a healthy Falcon team is a good Falcon team. Not surprisingly, the Atlanta offense was up and down. Offensive showings ranged from 45 on the road in SF to 7 at home against the Eagles (and Mike Vick). What was surprising was the inconsistency on defense. It’s probably why the Falcons used their first 2 draft picks on D. The model went 5-10-0, and 8-7 on over/unders. 2010 Outlook :  I look for 2010 to resemble 2008 than 2009. Will they catch the Saints? I doubt it. But the NFC East has a tougher schedule this year, and it would not surprise me at all to see the Falcons as a Wild Card. I’ll go out on a limb and give them 11 wins.

Carolina Panthers:

The Jake Delhomme era ended with a thud in Carolina in 2009. With a couple of small surprises, the Panthers were bad until the very end, when Matt Moore led them to nice wins against Minnesota and the Giants. My model took well to consistently bad performances from a team that most, including the oddsmakers, thought would be better. I went 11-4 with the Panthers, and 8-7 in over/unders. 2010 Outlook :  Carolina took the “out with the old, in with the new” philosophy this off-season. Out are Julius Peppers, Delhomme, and Muhsin Muhammad. In is Jimmy Claussen – how long before he is starting for Moore? It’s a rebuilding year, and I think it may be a painful one. I’ll give the Panthers 4 wins – maybe 5.

New Orleans Saints:

My model caught on pretty well to the juggernaut that became the World Champs. They also gave a nice look into the Vegas line ebb and flow : The Saints covered the first 6 weeks, didn’t the next 3, then did for 2, and did not the last 4, when they started to lose (or get bored). The model went 9-6 with the Saints, and went 10-5 on over/unders. 2010 Outlook :  The Saints had almost no turnover from the Super Bowl team. One could argue their schedule is actually easier this year – they play the NFC West this year (last year it was the NFC East).  I’ll give them 12 wins, with losses @ATL, @BAL, @CIN, and @DAL. That Dallas game on Turkey Day should be fun.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

The Bucs were consistently awful – but hey, if there’s one thing a mathematical model likes – it’s consistency. On the positive side, Josh Freeman gave the team a spark in the second half, and Cadillac returned to his pre-injury form. This Viking fan will not forget the win over the Pack in the old Creamsicle unis. Now THAT was fun to watch. I went 9-6 in Buc games, and 8-7 in over/unders.  2010 Outlook :  Some prognosticators give Tampa 7 or 8 wins this year in a big jump from last year. I’m not one of them. They did have a nice draft, and are building a solid defensive core, but I think they are still 2 years away. On offense, they’ll grow as Freeman does. I see five wins, and a battle with Carolina for 3rd in the division.

Let me know what you think about the turnover discussion or the NFC South!

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