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(K)onstantly not good enough by Chris Peterson SM '13

baby's first sabremetrics

November 7, 2011

As some of you may know I am a big Patriots fan. Yesterday the Patriots lost to the Giants. It was pretty painful. But the midst of it all – and in between flashbacks to the Superbowl-That-Didn’t-Happen – I started thinking. Mostly to distract myself from the pain as I did this over and over and over again:


See, the weird thing about the Patriots this year (and the last few years) is that the team has been consistently inconsistent on both sides of the ball. Earlier this season, when the Patriots offense was setting records for scoring, the defense was setting records for being scored on; the Patriots barely squeaked out with shootouts in games they should have won handily.

Then, last night, the defense stepped up and held off the Giants for a scoreless first half…but the Pats offense itself was held scoreless as well. Through the second half, the Patriots would make a stop, and then have to punt; then, they would score, and immediately give up a score themselves.

That’s when I realized that the 2011 New England Patriots could be roughly modeled using the following equation:

k = (o)(d) +/- (r)(s)

where:

  • k = a constant value of the team’s actualized potential to be good
  • o = the offense
  • d = the defense
  • r = a coefficient of random chance
  • s = special teams

Thus, how good the Patriots are is distributed proportionally across the offense and the defense, plus or minus the dice roll of Julian Edelman doing something awesome or horrific on any given play (it’s a loaded die) (and it’s loaded on “horrific”).

There are obviously a few more complexities here. For example, the degree to which other teams match up against any given manifestation of k depends on the opponent and the game. And this model, like any model, is a simplification: it doesn’t truly describe the ability of, say, Kyle Arrington to make a terrific pick on one set of downs before failing miserably on the next, though of course such variations are themselves merely another iteration of k.

Readers of this blog – MIT applicants and students – may be able to help me further refine this model to account for additional complexities, such as the chance of Vince Wilfork catching an interception because he sees the football and reflexively thinks it is a Christmas ham, or the chance that Tom Brady sees his own reflection in the shine of an oncoming linebacker’s helmet and gets so distracted by how handsome he is that he forgets to dodge the sack.

However, one thing is true:

The constant value of k, no matter how it is composed at any given period of time, is almost certainly insufficient to beat a good team in the National Football League.

Ugh.


12 responses to “(K)onstantly not good enough”

  1. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    In related news, I found this on the Internet. Apologies to Lady Gaga.

    *********

    Gah-gah-gah-gah-Gawd!
    Oh-mah-Oh-mah-Gawd!
    Gahgah-oo-la-la!
    Hate your bad defence

    Gah-gah-gah-gah-Gawd!
    Oh-mah-Oh-mah-Gawd!
    Gahgah-oo-la-la!
    Hate your bad defence

    I hate your corners
    I hate your safeties
    I hate your linebackers
    No pass rush I can see
    I hate your D
    hate-hate-hate
    I hate your D

    I hate your drama
    Interference calls
    I want Sergio Brown strung up by his balls
    I hate your D
    hate-hate-hate
    I hate your D

    You know that I hate you
    And you know that I need you
    I hate it bad
    Bad defense

    You know I hate you
    I don’t have to pretend
    Billy B you have a bad defense
    I hate your coverage
    Receivers always open
    Billy B you’ve got a bad defense

    Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh!
    Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh!
    Sucking with a bad defense

    Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh!
    Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh!
    Sucking with a bad defense

    Gah-gah-gah-gah-Gawd!
    Oh-mah-Oh-mah-Gawd!
    Gahgah-oo-la-la!
    Hate your bad defence

    Gah-gah-gah-gah-Gawd!
    Oh-mah-Oh-mah-Gawd!
    Gahgah-oo-la-la!
    Hate your bad defence

    I hate your horror
    I hate your design
    There is just no pass rush
    That I can divine
    I hate your D
    hate-hate-hate
    I hate your D

    I hate your psycho
    Your vertical schticks
    Your man-to-man schemes
    They make me sick
    I hate your D
    hate-hate-hate
    I hate your D

    You know that I hate you
    And you know that I need you
    I hate it bad
    Bad defense

    You know I hate you
    I don’t have to pretend
    Billy B you have a bad defense
    I hate your coverage
    Receivers always open
    Billy B you’ve got a bad defense

    Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh!
    Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh!
    Sucking with a bad defense

    Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh!
    Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh!
    Loathing your bad defense

    Gah-gah-gah-gah-Gawd!
    Oh-mah-Oh-mah-Gawd!
    Gahgah-oo-la-la!
    Angry at your bad defence

    Gah-gah-gah-gah-Gawd!
    Oh-mah-Oh-mah-Gawd!
    Gahgah-oo-la-la!
    Hate your bad defence

    Walk-walk 1st Down baby
    Work it
    move those sticks c-crazy
    walk-walk yards baby
    Work it
    let them score crazy
    walk-walk game baby
    Work it
    Lose yet again baby

    I hate your D
    And I want it fixed
    I don’t care how
    I just wanna good blitz

    Je hais ton D
    et j’veux qu’il fixe
    Je ne sens concerne
    Je desire un blitz

    Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh!
    Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh!
    Sucking with a bad defense

    Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh!
    Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh!
    Sucking with a bad defense

    You know I hate you
    I don’t have to pretend
    Billy B you have a bad defense
    I hate your coverage
    Receivers always open
    Billy B you’ve got a bad defense

    Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh!
    Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh!
    Sucking with a bad defense

    Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh!
    Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh!
    Sucking with a bad defense

    Gah-gah-gah-gah-Gawd!
    Oh-mah-Oh-mah-Gawd!
    Gahgah-oo-la-la!
    Hate your bad defence

  2. MattOC says:

    If it was for the Lions, you’d have to add (N), where N is Ndamukong Suh’s anger level on a scale from 1 to 10. Let 10 be angry enough to eat the opposing quarterback and his offensive line and 1 be just angry enough to give the quarterback a concussion and/or broken bone.

  3. V says:

    I have no interest in sports, but am extremely pleased with your use of the best Star Trek captain (sorry, Patrick, Bill and Kate).

  4. Brandon J. says:

    Hmm. Are you the one that does the FB page, by any chance? This looks awfully familiar!

    Btw, P = Y + k, where P = how good the Packers are, Y = how good the opponent is, and k is a positive constant. The result of this is that the Packers are good enough to beat any enemy team by a fair margin, but not landsliding except in extreme circumstances.

    Evidence is that 6 of their 8 wins are by 7 to 11 points, with the exceptions against the Rams and the Broncos.

    (I posted this on the FB page, too)

  5. Yohan says:

    The “O” should be a function of Ochocinco’s ability to work with Tom Brady (or the lack thereof) and the number of dropped clutch, “perfect, right-on-the-numbers” passes by Rob Gronkowski and the rest of the receiving corps. Should also be a function of Tom Brady and Wes Welker’s anger and motivation to perform in the week following a loss.

    The “D” should be a function of the probability of Jerod Mayo playing, Albert Haneysworth and Vince Wilfork’s ability to make holes in the offensive line, and the inability of our “linebackers” to make sacks. D should also be a function of Bill Belichick’s anger which improves the overall Defense in the week following a loss.

  6. Darrell Evans says:

    @ V You are out of your mind. Picard would so dominate Sisko as he was stuck on one little space station.

  7. Ramsey Natour says:

    @ Darrell Evans
    Q: You hit me! Picard never hit me!
    Sisko: I’m not Picard.

    I never thought anyone would be better than Picard, but the more I watch of Deep Space 9 the more appealing Sisko becomes.

    He must look really different in the later seasons though because I didn’t even recognize him from the picture.

  8. Johnny English says:

    Hello Sir,
    Is the TOEFL score a criteria for classifying an applicant above the other for international applicant (non native English speakers)?
    I mean, could a person scoring 100 in TOEFL be preferred over a person scoring 95 for admission in MIT ?

  9. Mason Williams says:

    Benjamin Sisko!!!!!!

  10. V says:

    @Darrel Evans and Ramsey Natour:

    I’m sorry, but it’s very clearly: Sisko > Picard > Kirk > Janeway.

    DS9 is an incredible show… it ran alongside Voyager, TNG and the likes of Babylon 5, which I think hampered it quite a bit – but it was really really good ultimately. Sisko as a character is much more complex and conflicted, and in the end is much better for it, I think.

    And yeah, he changes a lot through the seasons (a LOT changes through the seasons in DS9, if you’re not on season four or so you ain’t seen nothing yet).

  11. Christina says:

    If I did not understand the equation..should I probably not apply to MIT? :'(

  12. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Well, that should probably not be the reason, because this is something I just randomly came up with now that isn’t a real thing