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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Week 10 Recap and the Field Goal Calculator

With one game left this weekend, I thought it was about time to report on the initial results from the Matrix's first weekend. All in all, things have gone well. The Matrix correctly picked the winner in 38 of 53 games and was 27-21 against the line.

And it could have been better. If you look back at the picks (table) from last week, you might notice that Oregon is listed as the road team against Arizona State. Unless Arizona State has decided to start playing its home games thousands of miles from home, this is a typo. The Matrix gives teams a bonus if they are playing at home, and, in this case, gave Oregon's "at-home" credit to Arizona State. This mistake shifted the prediction, in this case, by about nine points. In other words, if the Matrix would have been fed accurate data, it would have been correct.

Then there is Rice and Texas. After ragging on these two teams last week, they put up a combined 52 points in the 4th quarter to win and cover the spread. Cincinnati put up 31 in the 1st quarter to do the same. And then the Demon Deacons felt the Cavalier curse and missed what would have been the winning field goal in the last seconds.

But I found a more worrying issue when I looked more closely at the results from the Matrix. Against the line, the Matrix was 0-2 when it gave one team an 80% chance or greater of covering. One, which I mentioned before, was Rice and their 20 point comeback. The other was Iowa State, who seems to actually be a much better team these days. The Matrix was most accurate when it gave one team only a small advantage.

The game of the week, in my opinion, lived up to its billing (that I gave it). Navy wins in triple overtime on a failed two point conversion attempt. Historic. I'm a bit biased towards the midshipmen - I love to watch their offense - but how could anyone that isn't a Catholic not jump on the Navy bandwagon after that game.

The Field Goal Calculator

The field goal calculator is my initial attempt to create an adjustable system that can estimate the number of points that a team will get on average if they kick a field goal or go for it on 4th down. The calculations come from an earlier blog and are not, by any means, perfect, but I think it is a good starting point.

Here, I have provided an excel spreadsheet so users can play with it themselves. The spreadsheet has 4 entries and a graph. You can adjust it for the leg strength of the kicker (average = 0), the accuracy of the kicker (average = 0), the average yards per play for that team, and the number of yards the team needs to get a first down. The graph shows how many points that team could expect to get if they went for it or if they kicked the field goal from various points on the field.

Download Field Goal Calculator.xls

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