Breaking Beatloops With Beatflukes

Under what circumstances should a beatloop be broken?

When beatloops are removed, it means that data about team relationships are being taken out of the graph.

So far, beatloops have only been broken if smaller beatloops with common teams were removed first. This means the system is fairly liberal about removing beatloops.

But I’ve started experimenting with another reason to break beatloops: when a beatpath contradicts a portion of a beatloop.

Here’s an example. Denver has been in a beatloop with NE and MIA: DEN=>NE=>MIA=>DEN . As a result, Denver hasn’t been given credit for its win over New England.

New England has an alternate beatpath to Miami, but that doesn’t mean much. It just confirms something that was already in the beatloop. Reinforcing a portion of the beatloop doesn’t help us.

But, what’s more interesting is that Denver has an alternate beatpath to Miami. That contradicts part of the beatloop. Since Denver has managed to develop an alternate beatpath to a team that it had earlier lost to, it essentially means that it has exposed that earlier loss as a fluke. If you break the beatloop at that portion, you have a beatpath segment to add back into the graph: DEN=>NE=>MIA .

By breaking contradicted beatloops to account for fluke losses, we end up with slightly more beatpath data, and slightly taller graphs. We’ll also end up with slightly more dynamic power rankings, as losses that seemed flukey a week earlier end up seeming not so flukey anymore.

Here’s the post-Thanksgiving beatpath graph with “beatflukes” removed:

2005-12-Lbust-Nfl-Thk-Clean

The main differences between this graph and the other post-thanksgiving graph?

  • Denver sheds its fluke loss to the Giants, regaining its victories over San Diego and Dallas
  • Denver sheds its fluke loss to Miami, regaining its victories over New England, the Jets, and KC
  • Tampa Bay sheds its fluke loss to SF, regaining its victory over Washington
  • Tampa Bay sheds its fluke loss to the Jets, regaining its victories over Buffalo and Atlanta
  • Carolina sheds its fluke loss to New Orleans, regaining its victories over MIN and GB
  • Jacksonville sheds its fluke loss to St. Louis, regaining its victory over Seattle.

I’m still deciding whether to switch to this beatpath graph style, but it looks pretty good so far. Tampa Bay really climbs up the rankings with this graph, and Seattle gets hurt.

8 Responses to Breaking Beatloops With Beatflukes

  1. Gerry says:

    I said this elsewhere, but any system will be imperfect.

    This system has only 6 teams ‘lower’ than the Giants.

    That hardly seems right, but then any system will get a few teams badly wrong.

  2. Gerry says:

    7 teams, my bad.

  3. ThunderThumbs says:

    The Giants *are* higher up than this in the power rankings – again, the graph doesn’t perfectly suggest placement in the rankings. What the graph suggests is the strength of who they’ve beaten and lost to. In the rankings, the Giants are ranked ahead of most of the teams it is on the same level as. It seems weird that they’re ranked behind the Vikings, but at this point in the season, the graph is pretty stable – there are lots of ways to shed a beatloss, but so far the Giants haven’t even been able to enter into a loop with with the Vikings or anyone above the Vikings. That’s just reality. So far, the Giants really have not played to the level that most people assume they’re at.

  4. Gerry says:

    “So far, the Giants really have not played to the level that most people assume they’re at.”

    According to your system, this is true. At the same time, their games against Dallas (OT loss), Seattle (OT loss) and Denver (last second win) suggest that this is the company they are in, and not the GBs, Dets, Mias, Phis, and so forth of the world.

  5. Gerry says:

    In any case, I see on another thread that we are really in accord– that this is a valuable and interesting (and cool-looking system) that adds info but is not the be-all and end-all in and of itself. That’s not meant as a criticism– I think it is outstanding that you thought outside of the box and came up with something that actually is new and does add insight. Kudos!

  6. ThunderThumbs says:

    re #4 – yeah, that information gets ignored by the “win is a win” and “loss is a loss” thinking. The Giants are hurt more by their loss to Minnesota than anything else. But what’s interesting is noting that Minnesota has by and large only lost to very good teams. I’d be hard-pressed to comfortably pick the Giants beating Chicago, for instance. It’s possible we might see MIN rise up more in the rankings, and the Giants rise up with them. I’m not sure there’s a scenario where the Giants can shed their beatloss to MIN unless something complicated happens with multiple other teams.

  7. ThunderThumbs says:

    It is interesting to think about what beatwins seem more “unlikely”, though – I think MIN=>NYG is right at the top of the list. I think JAC=>PIT looks pretty odd, too, which is having a huge effect on keeping Denver high in the rankings. The last was WAS=>SEA but that’s finally made up for after week 12.

  8. Gerry says:

    The more the season goes on, the more I am thinking that something was very wrong with Culpepper, and the Vikes are actually pretty good. Their losses were to good teams, but they were bad losses, not close. But since Johnson stopped the turnover bleeding, they have been a solid team. I think the last game of the season for them against the Bears is going to be very interesting.

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