I have had quite the crisis of confidence this week with the beatpath graph and the algorithm, all because of the freaking NY Jets.
There’s no way the NY Jets should be ranked #1, I thought. There’s no way they should be at the top of the beatpath graph, with a beatpath to almost everyone else in the graph.
The Jets lost to Denver. To San Diego. To Seattle. To Oakland. And they’re kept from those losses, all because of Miami. And it’s got to be a fluke that Tennessee hasn’t beatlooped them away yet – Tennessee and Indianapolis – they’re powerful!
But here’s the thing. I did some digging.
The NY Jets being so high isn’t entirely because they’re especially good. If you look at the results for the week, you’ll see that the AFC had three very key victories over the NFC this week, and all of them were damaging in the beatpath graph. So the shape of the graph is more about the NFC East and South collapsing than it is about the AFC South and North rising to prominence and making the NY Jets look amazing. If you look at the actual quality of victories of these top teams, it’s not really a picture of dominance. Houston beat Tennessee. All these teams are beatable.
And finally, the NY Jets play Miami this week, and Miami has a chance to avenge their loss and finally cancel out that horrible snarl of a beatloop that is keeping the NY Jets from all those beatlosses. But what happens to the NY Jets if Miami wins?
Answer: Nothing. They still retain their beatwin over Tennessee, and it’s because all those teams that beat the Jets, that Miami beat? Well, Buffalo beat four of the five, and the Jets beat them. Twice. The other one is beatlooped through Arizona. So it turns out this NYJ=>MIA problem might really just be a big distraction, because they’re all redundant beatloops. It’s true that Miami can help itself quite a bit with a win, regaining beatwins over all these teams, but the teams aren’t great and it wouldn’t improve Miami’s ranking very much. It might very well be that the NY Jets have just had a few flukey losses this season that are making them look worse than they really are.
Overall, I’m fascinating about what will happen in the final week and in the playoffs. This might actually prove to be a case where Beatpaths is telling us something that we just are having trouble accepting – it doesn’t mean we’re right, though!