by A.J. Coltrane
Over time I’ve decided that NFL outcomes are more random than I prefer to be involved with (read: gamble on). There are too few possessions per team, and too few scores — if the NFL awarded one point for a touchdown instead of seven a “normal” result would be something like 4 points to 2. Turnovers have a huge impact on the end result. Fumbles happen at random times. Which team recovers the fumble is basically a coin flip… as of today I think there’s too much granularity all around to try to predict outcomes with any accuracy.
With that in mind, Bill Barnwell’s playoff preview included this little gem:
Since 1990, teams that have won the turnover battle in a given game during the regular season have won that game 79.1 percent of the time. In the playoffs, that figure climbs to 84.2 percent. Of course, everybody knows that winning the turnover battle is important; it’s figuring out how to win the turnover battle that’s the hard part.
So there’s that. Yikes.
Maybe my current feeling about predictably predicting NFL results is party based around having seen so much unpredictability. When I was (much) younger the randomness issue didn’t concern me that much. Probably because it was difficult to quantify much of anything from a 1980’s box score. (And that includes baseball — in the 80’s there was no walk info, or ball-strike, or total pitches..) Even back then I couldn’t find a reason for 8-10% of the NFL results.
Maybe I’m older and wiser.
But at least I know to avoid the NFL.