2004 Beatpath Graphs

You asked for it. Read on for a discussion of beatpath graphs, rankings, and beatpath loops for the 2004 NFL season.

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We’ll start with the end of the regular season. First, just for giggles, here’s what the graph looks like before I get rid of beatpath loops and redundant lines:

2004-17-Snarl

I don’t actually have a version big enough where you can read the team names.

But after you remove beatpath loops and redundant lines, it looks much clearer. But first, I should caution that there may be some bugs having to do with a team beating another team multiple times. I think I just squashed the last one, but then again, you always think that.

2004-17-Clean-1

Here are the 2004 final standings. If you go division by division, you’ll see that in most cases, the standings line up with the beatpaths. The exception is St. Louis having a beatpath over Seattle. Evidently St. Louis played crappy last year except for when they were beating Seattle.

There were predictably many beatpath loops. There were 20 1-1 splits, 33 three-team loops, seven four-team loops, and four five-team loops. Here’s a smaller list of the loops that involved playoff teams:

  • Two Teams: SEA/ARI, STL/ARI, TB/ATL, NO/ATL, PIT/BAL, NYJ/BUF, GB/CHI, MIN/CHI, KC/DEN, SD/DEN, OAK/DEN, JAC/IND, NE/MIA
  • NO=>STL=>SEA=>NO
  • NO=>DAL=>SEA=>NO
  • MIA=>STL=>SEA=>MIA
  • MIA=>STL=>NYJ=>MIA
  • NYG=>GB=>DET=>NYG
  • NYG=>MIN=>DET=>NYG
  • STL=>SEA=>CAR=>STL
  • ATL=>STL=>SEA=>ATL
  • STL=>PHI=>CAR=>STL
  • STL=>PHI=>GB=>STL
  • ATL=>CAR=>KC=>ATL
  • SD=>HOU=>TEN=>SD
  • SD=>OAK=>TEN=>SD
  • ATL=>SD=>KC=>ATL
  • SD=>KC=>IND=>SD
  • SD=>KC=>TEN=>SD
  • DEN=>HOU=>JAC=>DEN
  • DEN=>TEN=>CIN=>DEN
  • WAS=>MIN=>DAL=>WAS
  • DAL=>SEA=>MIN=>DAL
  • HOU=>KC=>IND=>HOU
  • HOU=>TEN=>GB=>HOU
  • HOU=>JAC=>GB=>HOU
  • JAC=>GB=>MIN=>JAC
  • BAL=>BUF=>CIN=>PHI=>BAL
  • BAL=>NYJ=>CIN=>PHI=>BAL
  • KC=>BAL=>NYJ=>SD=>KC
  • IND=>DET=>ATL=>DEN=>IND

Here’s the graph after wildcard weekend. St. Louis beat Seattle (again) in Seattle 27-20. The Jets hosted San Diego and won, 20-17. Denver went to Indy and got pasted, 49-24. Minnesota won at Green Bay, 31-17.

2004-18-Clean-1

STL=>SEA resulted in no change to the graph. The Jet’s line to Arizona points to San Diego instead. Denver was in an ATL=>DEN=>IND beatpath that their loss to Indy obliterated, so they’re now ranked below Atlanta. And Minnesota ended up 1-2 against Green Bay for the year, but since they also were in a beatpath loop with Green Bay and Jacksonville, it broke the beatpath relationship between GB and MIN.

Beatpath loops for the remaining contestants:

  • Two Teams: STL/ARI, TB/ATL, NO/ATL, PIT/BAL, NYJ/BUF, MIN/CHI, IND/DEN, MIN/GB, IND/JAC, NE/MIA
  • NO=>STL=>SEA=>NO
  • MIA=>STL=>SEA=>MIA
  • MIA=>STL=>NYJ=>MIA
  • NYG=>MIN=>DET=>NYG
  • STL=>SEA=>CAR=>STL
  • ATL=>STL=>SEA=>ATL
  • STL=>PHI=>CAR=>STL
  • STL=>PHI=>GB=>STL
  • ATL=>CAR=>KC=>ATL
  • ATL=>SD=>KC=>ATL
  • SD=>KC=>IND=>SD
  • WAS=>MIN=>DAL=>WAS
  • DAL=>SEA=>MIN=>DAL
  • HOU=>KC=>IND=>HOU
  • JAC=>GB=>MIN=>JAC
  • BAL=>BUF=>CIN=>PHI=>BAL
  • BAL=>NYJ=>CIN=>PHI=>BAL
  • KC=>BAL=>NYJ=>SD=>KC
  • DET=>ATL=>NYG=>CLE=>WAS=>DET
  • DET=>ATL=>NYG=>DAL=>WAS=>DET

Here’s the graph after the divisional playoffs. The home teams all won. Pittsburgh beat the Jets 20-17, Atlanta beat St. Louis 47-17, Philly beat Minnesota 27-14, and New England beat Indy 20-3.

2004-19-Clean

PIT=>NYJ, PHI=>MIN, and NE=>IND resulted in no change to the graph. Atlanta sucked St. Louis into its beatpath. This was honestly a pretty uneventful week of the playoffs – three of the victors had already proven their dominance over their opponents.

Beatpath loops for remaining teams:

  • Two Teams: TB/ATL, NO/ATL, PIT/BAL, NE/MIA
  • ATL=>STL=>SEA=>ATL
  • STL=>PHI=>CAR=>STL
  • STL=>PHI=>GB=>STL
  • ATL=>CAR=>KC=>ATL
  • ATL=>SD=>KC=>ATL
  • BAL=>BUF=>CIN=>PHI=>BAL
  • BAL=>NYJ=>CIN=>PHI=>BAL
  • DET=>ATL=>NYG=>CLE=>WAS=>DET
  • DET=>ATL=>NYG=>DAL=>WAS=>DET

Here’s the graph after the conference championships. Philly hosted Atlanta and won, 27-10. New England won at Pittsburgh, 41-27.

2004-20-Clean

This one’s pretty interesting. PHI=>ATL led to no change in the graph because it created a beatpath loop with STL. But as for why STL didn’t already have credit for beating PHI, and ATL didn’t already have credit for beating STL, it’s because they were already in their own beatpath loops (look at the list just above this graph). Basically, the two teams had performed so inconsistently throughout the year that the system felt it would need two Philadelphia victories to prove it was really better than Atlanta. They got one. (If Atlanta had won, they would have had a beatpath over Philly, I believe.)

Meanwhile, New England split their season series with Pittsburgh and removed Pittsburgh’s beatpath over them.

Remaining beatpath loops for NE and PHI:

  • Two Teams: NE/PIT, NE/MIA
  • STL=>PHI=>CAR=>STL
  • STL=>PHI=>GB=>STL
  • ATL=>STL=>PHI=>ATL
  • BAL=>BUF=>CIN=>PHI=>BAL
  • BAL=>NYJ=>CIN=>PHI=>BAL

You get the feeling that St. Louis screwed things up for a lot of teams last year.

And now, the graph after the Super Bowl. New England won “at” Philadelphia, 24-21.

2004-21-Clean

Pretty straightforward; New England added Philly to their beatpath.

And there you have it. That’s the 2004 season. It’ll be interesting to see how 2005 shapes up and whether its graph will be similar to 2004’s.

5 Responses to 2004 Beatpath Graphs

  1. MDS says:

    Fascinating. I would have expected the playoffs to simplify things a little bit more. I wonder if there are some years when the Super Bowl winner still isn’t atop the chart. I’m guessing so; there’s no reason a team couldn’t have an unambiguous win over the Super Bowl champion.

  2. DavidH says:

    So, using the Net UWins formula from my earlier post, the rankings:

    ne 28
    pit 25
    ind 18
    atl 13
    nyj 13
    phi 12
    den 9
    gb 8
    sd 8
    bal 7
    cin 7
    buf 6
    min 4
    jac 1
    stl 1
    sea -2
    car -3
    det -3
    hou -3
    was -3
    dal -6
    nyg -6
    no -7
    mia -9
    ari -10
    cle -10
    kc -10
    oak -12
    tb -13
    chi -18
    sf -21
    ten -21

  3. DavidH says:

    that was for the graph after the super bowl

  4. Becephalus says:

    Cool work. I notice that NE has a beatpath to everyone but PIT and ATL. PIT on the other hand is missing IND, NE, and ATL. I am envisioning a new playoff structure where the teams with the fewest temas not in a beatpath play each other 🙂

  5. tt says:

    Yeah, that’s an interesting thing about this method. I find that when I review the week’s upcoming games, I’m routinely disappointed at how many of the games would actually have a clarifying effect on the graph.

    DavidH, interesting. That probably helps explain why PHI didn’t get a beatpath to ATL even after beating them. ATL just had a much stronger place in the graph. But anyway, it’s clear that the Super Bowl wasn’t the best matchup.

    It’d be interesting to compare each teams UNet strength to their final record or whether they made the plaoyffs.

    As for the ranking system I’m developing, I’m thinking that I might have to put an extra rule in – if the system is trying to determine whether to rank one team ahead of the other, and the beatpath graph doesn’t say anything, I should probably look to see if they played a game the previous week and rank the winner ahead.

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