Hello everyone and welcome back to Beatpaths! We’re getting the first post in, just in the nick of time. We also have an upgraded wordpress installation, we’re on a new server, and I’ll be able to generate the rankings and graphs on the actual server now, rather than on my local system – all of this will remove some minor obstacles that made last season a little extra annoying.
The other thing that made last season annoying, I’ve decided, was Brett Favre. You’ll remember that the NY Jets were atop the beatpaths graph (if not the rankings) at the end of last season. The Jets looked rather powerful early in the season, with some quality wins, but as the offseason wore on, it became clear that Favre had been playing injured and had effectively driven the season into the ground in the closing weeks. It was also clear to any human that the Jets were far worse at the end of the season than the totality of their season would have indicated – after all, if their wins and losses had occurred in a different order, they would have looked stronger at the end. This is one of the flaws of looking at only wins and losses, and not the order in which they occur.
It’s not the only flaw, of course. We had quite a bit of discussion last season about alternative algorithms, and I’m hoping to be able to code in support for some of these algorithms in time for Week 4, when things get interesting. I’m also curious to look at full-season projections from early on – as always, there are a lot of ways to look at data limited to wins and losses.
And so without further ado, here are the picks for Week 1. For Week 1, as we did last season, we’re basing the picks off of the previous season’s final rankings.
Tennessee at Pittsburgh: According to last season, this is a close game, and quite likely one of the top games of the entire season, if you go by their rankings heading into the game. Tennessee is ranked #3, and Pittsburgh is ranked #4.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis: Indianapolis was ranked the top team in the league at the end of the season last season, so this is a clear pick.
Detroit at New Orleans: Another easy pick, given the spread in rankings.
Philadelphia at Carolina: I imagine this pick splits a lot of prognosticators. Carolina was ranked comfortably ahead of Philadelphia at the end of last season.
Dallas at Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay was ranked in the bottom half of the league at the end of last season; Dallas in the top half.
NY Jets at Houston: I’ll stick with this pick, just in honor of it being a new season – if it’s way off, the Jets’ ranking will correct itself soon enough.
Kansas City at Baltimore: Another very wide spread in rankings, another easy pick.
Denver at Cincinnati: Worse offensive personnel, an offensive system with better potential, and a better defense… that’s my sense of Denver. My gut says Cincinnati will win and Denver will have a long year, but Denver ended last season #12.
Minnesota at Cleveland: Cleveland was very low last season, this is another wide spread in rankings.
Miami at Atlanta: Miami had some high quality wins last year and finished the season in the top ten. Atlanta isn’t too far behind, though – this is a relatively close pick.
Washington at NY Giants: Washington ended last season far down in the lower half of the league, an easy pick for the Giants.
San Francisco at Arizona: Arizona did finally manage to break the top ten from their postseason run, but it wasn’t a great regular season for them. This is a moderately straightforward pick over San Francisco, although the preseason would indicate Arizona might be in trouble.
St Louis at Seattle: According to last season, this is #32 at #30.
Chicago at Green Bay: Green Bay ended the season ranked very low. I’m not sure what has changed for Green Bay that has people so optimistic.
Buffalo at New England: A clear pick in the NFC East – plus it seems Buffalo has been self-destructing in the preseason.
San Diego at Oakland: San Diego was ranked #23 at the end of last season, but the media sure has their love affair with them again. They like their bright shiny baubles. I don’t get it. They’ve been more talent than team for years, kind of like Philadelphia.