Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Sep 2005

The Pats will be Deposed Somehow

To paraphrase Richard Hayden:

"Skip Bayless columns are like fish in a barrel, my friend. Bayless is the fish, FO readers are the barrel. Fish in a barrel."

OK, not the perfect analogy, but you get the point. In his latest installment, Bayless makes maybe the least convincing argument ever for why the Patriots won't make it back to the Super Bowl.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 09 Sep 2005

62 comments, Last at 12 Sep 2005, 1:46am by deadteddy8

Comments

1
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 9:38am

The sad thing is, even if the Pats are the clear favorites at, say, 25% chance to win it, there's still a 75% chance that he'll be 'right' and be able to point at this pile of crap as a great accomplishment and brilliant foresight. Of course, I won't read that column anyway, so more power to him I guess.

2
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 9:42am

"Just because."

Now, if he weren't Skip Bayless, he might say something to the effect of: the Patriots have weathered injuries pretty well the past couple of seasons, but they're due for that queasy-inducing hit which has Flutie quickly warming up on the sidelines, or Kevin Faulk toting the rock for 3-6 weeks, or for that unexplained rash of injuries which has them scrambling to re-sign Kevin Kaspar as their #1 WR.

That sounds better (I hope!), but boils down to the same argument: no one has done it (3 in a row, 4 ou of 5) before, so there's no reaon to believe it can be done. Except that we know that it can be done -- it's just really, really hard to do.

The Patriots right now have a better chance than any other team to win that third in a row, simply because they have a head start. :-) Doesn't mean that they will, but saying that they can't is just silly.

Then again, Skip Bayless is often silly, even for a sports columnist.

3
by Harris (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 9:50am

Looks like Skippy is well on his way to hating the Bay Area's newest top-flight receiver.

Peter King made much the same argument (such as it is) when saying the Eagles wouldn't win the NFC. But really, -- and God help me, I'm about to defend the two sports writers I hate the most -- isn't every prediction a "Just Because"? Sure, Skippy is an idiot (Cincinnati has a great defense?) but in this case, and possibly only this case, he's no more of an idiot than anybody making a preseason prediction.

4
by Bad Doctor (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 10:12am

I really don't think this is that bad from Skip. The bottom line is, what's a columnist/knowledgeable fan to do? Picking the Patriots is unimaginative and too easy, and even if you're right you don't get to look smart. :) Tom Jackson made the Patriots and Eagles his Super Bowl picks last night ... which is based on terrific analysis, but at the same time, I mean ... come on! You feel a little cheated watching him make that pick.

What's disappointing (not for Skip, I don't expect much from him) is that the media doesn't use more analysis when talking about why teams don't threepeat, why it's tough to stay on top, etc., and instead just says, "Well, nobody threepeats, so I can't pick the Patriots." (Contrast to this site's analysis of the NFC Super Bowl participant "curse" ... that was excellent and informative.) Bayless (Patriots) and King (Eagles) keep saying something has to go wrong eventually. So patching holes in your secondary with WRs and LBs wasn't something going wrong? Having your best offensive playmakers badly hurt (McNabb in 2002) or out (Westbrook in 2003, Owens in 2004) throughout the NFC playoffs isn't something going wrong?

If anything, you'd expect the Pats' and Eagles' luck to be a little better one of these years.

5
by Bad Doctor (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 10:22am

Oh, and not to rehash the Corey Simon thread, but I'm an Eagles fan, and somebody has to remind me when it was that Simon became this run-stuffing force. I guess it was during this last offseason.

Hey, he's been a strong pass-rushing tackle, no doubt, though not what he once was. But I thought it was common football knowledge that stopping the rush has been the Eagles' Achilles' heal during this run of theirs (20th, 20th, and 29th in rush defense DVOA the last three years). And they only started to improve it during the second half of last year by using more Rayburn and Thomas (and of course Trotter at LB).

6
by fyo (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 10:24am

Of course, one of the main reasons in todays game that teams don't "threepeat" is that they are unable to hold on to their talent, be that coaches, players or other personel. The Pats have been remarkably able to do so, until this year. We'll see just how well they weather those losses over the next several months.

Injuries are, of course, another major aspect and again the Pats have been fairly fortunate. One could argue "extremely fortunate", but the fact that other players have stepped up when an apparently important player went down also speaks to the style of play and organization that the team employs. We'll see just how well they weather the loss of Bruschi over the next several months.

Oh, and winning 3 Super Bowls by 3 points each.... damn, that's lucky.

7
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 10:28am

There's nothing wrong with not picking the Pats, but poor Mr Bayless can't come up with a convincing argument for any other team, so his prediciton is one of 31 other teams will win the superbowl this year. That's even worse than TMQ's prediction that "A team who doesn't appear on Monday Night Football this year will be kinda good."

8
by Zac (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 10:29am

quoth SB: The Raiders' potentially explosive offense will look 49ers-like, making you say, "Belichick's system is so good that he could have replaced Bruschi and Johnson with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and kept Moss out of the end zone."

Well, Skip, you were wrong about that one too.

9
by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 10:49am

"But defenses win championships, and even with the late, great addition of the run-stopping rock that is Corey Simon"

Run stopping rock!?!?!?!

"Chad Johnson has turned into the NFL's second-best receiver, behind Moss"

Better than Harrison or Owens?

"The defense is loaded, and Marvin Lewis is another head coach who can flat-out coach defense."

The same defense that ended up on the wrong side of a 27-3 score against the Eagles first team in Week 3 of Pre-Season?

10
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 10:51am

"“Belichick’s system is so good that he could have replaced Bruschi and Johnson with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and kept Moss out of the end zone.�
"

That catch by Moss should really stop anyone from being concerned about his off season drug proclivities. A self tip and an ole for Harrison. Not a Raiders fan, but you have to love a play like that.

Bayless is under the misapprehension that it's the system, not the talent. As has been pointed out on this site and in PFP good teams make the most of a given player's talents by using that player appropriately. The Patriots are the gold standard for this. With Bruschi and Johnson not available to play, and Mssrs. Jagger and Richards currently on tour, was it any surprise to see the Patriots come out in a 4-3 after they had little success stopping the run initially?? With Wilfork and Seymour at tackles they don't have to plug two new guys into a system that gives them more responsibilities.
For the opposite case cf. Oakland's experiment with the 3-4.

11
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 11:03am

The same defense that ended up on the wrong side of a 27-3 score against the Eagles first team in Week 3 of Pre-Season?

I know! I'm hoping that the Bengals make it to the Super Bowl. In the past 4 years, essentially no team which has been beaten by 20+ points in the preseason has beaten that team in the regular or postseason.

But even ignoring that: the Bengals looked clueless. They had zone coverage on Owens, and let him blow right by them for that opening score. Later, they had Westbrook covered by a defensive end. This is not a team that's making the Super Bowl on the backs of its defense.

12
by Mike (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 11:17am

The thing I get annoyed about sportswriters picking against the Pats is when they say that they do so because "no one has ever won three in a row before". I probably don't need to point this out to most readers on this site, but there's a concept in probability called a "Memoryless trial", meaning that the history of events that has already happened does not affect the probability of that event happening in the future. For example, if you flip a coin 50 times, and it comes up heads every time, then some people might argue "well, we're due for a tails, so I think it won't come up heads again, because no one ever flips 51 heads in a row". But in actuality, the flipping of a coin is memoryless--the coin doesn't care that it's already come up heads a bunch. The probability of heads or tails is still 0.5.

Now, I'm not necessarily arguing that a team winning the superbowl is a memoryless event--there are some reasons why a past superbowl victory migth make a repeat harder (the one that springs to mind is talent being recognized as talent and leaving as it is recognized or as it gets too pricey--i.e. Weiss, Crennell, David Patten, Joe Andruzzi). (Another is the two games per year picked by last year's rankings). BUT if this is the case, the sportswriters should discuss these reasons WHY the superbowl is not memoryless, not just say "They won't do it because no one ever has". Furthermore, if a team manages the cap well and has a well built organization, I would expect these effects to become small and for the superbowl winner to be a NEARLY memoryless event.

In fact, one could make an argument that the fact the Pats have won three out of the last four superbowls implies that they have tailored their organization to eliminate as much as possible of the negative effect previous wins have on the probability of winning in the future. This is why the sportswriters probably don't discuss the concept of a memoryless versus a nonmemoryless event--because the arguments become very weak when looking at the Pats.

13
by Dan Riley (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 11:32am

Bayless is running wonderful interfernce for Steve Young here who last night said the Pats can't win because eventually the breaks are going to even out against them. (Geeze, Aaron, when do we get your analysis of breaks evening out?) It was a stupifyingly dumb comment from a pretty bright guy which makes it far more absurd than anything the reliably dumb Bayless might say.

14
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 11:37am

I think B (in #7) has it right.

Anyone can make a Super Bowl pick, and if you don't think the Patriots will win it, then you don't think the Patriots will win it. No harm in that, you pick someone else. You're making a best guess. TMQ every year after the season points out that most Super Bowl projections are wrong, and does it lightheartedly, pointing out that the season is so chaotic that even the experts are going to have a tough time.

But Bayless is taking the cheap (I'd use stronger language there, but I'll be polite in mixed company) way out - he's simply saying "The Super Bowl winner will be !(the New England Patriots)" and not picking who he thinks it WILL be. He gives lots of reasons why they can't win and no reasons why anyone else will step up and do so. Well anyone can say that.

Other brilliant, on-the-fly, balls-to-the-wall, risky predictions he probably meant to put in that column but left out due to lack of space:

"This year's Division 1-A 'national champion' will be someone other than USC."
"This year's World Series champion will not be the Kansas City Royals."
"The pope will not convert from Catholicism to Taoism this year."
"The winner of the US presidential election in 2008 will not be Saddam Hussein."
"Gravity will not shift from being an attractive to a repulsive force within the next decade."

T.

15
by zip (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 11:47am

GAMBLER'S FALLACY!!!

Everything else I was going to say has already been said more eloquently.

16
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 11:52am

probably don’t need to point this out to most readers on this site, but there’s a concept in probability called a “Memoryless trial",

Indeed. One could say that the hardest part of winning three Super Bowls in a row is winning two Super Bowls in a row to begin with.

17
by Israel (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 11:57am

The late great Bob Prince believed in a principle called "hidden vigorish" which holds that the longer a team wins, the closer it comes to losing. (And vice versa, of course, but that's not for this discussion.)

18
by SLB1 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 11:57am

I think that the Bayless article was meant in a more light-hearted tone than is being represented here. I think that Bayless was just saying what everyone has to accept as true. It is hard to win a single Super Bowl. REAL hard to win two. Almost impossible to win three, although the Pats this year look as good as ever. It only takes one injury to Brady, Seymour, an O lineman (where the Pats are not too deep), Dillon, etc. to potentially derail the season.

Also, I thought that Randy Moss was just a "really tall possession receiver" when he played on grass? Since when do possession receivers catch 75 yard bombs? Even if you take out the 75 yarder, Moss still almost averaged 15 yards a catch on grass last night against a pretty good secondary.

19
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 11:57am

I would just like to point out that those who have bought into New England being unstoppable have transferred their "someone who's been winning has to lose" to Philly. Stop the hate, man, stop the hate.

20
by Chris Smith (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 12:20pm

On Bengals & preseason --

Quote:
I know! I’m hoping that the Bengals make it to the Super Bowl. In the past 4 years, essentially no team which has been beaten by 20+ points in the preseason has beaten that team in the regular or postseason.

Umm...The Bengals beat the Patriots 35-3 or something last year in Preseason.. .and the Pats played their #1 players for 3 quarters. But they won in the regular season.

Since the Bengals beat Indy 38-0 this year I guess the November game is hopeless. I guess Indy will forfeit.

21
by Jake (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 12:33pm

Of course, one of the main reasons in todays game that teams don’t “threepeat� is that they are unable to hold on to their talent, be that coaches, players or other personel. The Pats have been remarkably able to do so, until this year. We’ll see just how well they weather those losses over the next several months.
Check the reports from before 04 or 03. You'll see the same talk about talent loss then (paging Ted Washington, Damien Woody and Lawyer Milloy).

Injuries are, of course, another major aspect and again the Pats have been fairly fortunate. One could argue “extremely fortunate", but the fact that other players have stepped up when an apparently important player went down also speaks to the style of play and organization that the team employs. We’ll see just how well they weather the loss of Bruschi over the next several months.
The Patriots have started 44 and 40 starters over the last 2 years. Those are the most ever for a division or SB winner. The Pats have had injuries, but have overcome them.

Oh, and winning 3 Super Bowls by 3 points each…. damn, that’s lucky.
Or maybe they're just that good?

22
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 12:52pm

Umm…The Bengals beat

Reread the comment. "Essentially". You've correctly managed to find one of the two outliers over the past 4 years - the other is the San Diego/San Francisco matchup from 2001 (I think) where SF beat SD by 21 points in the preseason first half, and lost by 3 in the regular season.

Sports statisticians prefer "perfect" stats. My favorite new one is "Brett Favre is undefeated when playing at home under 34 degrees when not playing an African American quarterback wearing #7." But of course, that's silly. Lambeau has a strong home field advantage, but it's not perfect.

Likewise, beating the crap out of Cincinnati in the preseason doesn't guarantee a victory. But it does give a strong hint that Cincinnati may have a problem with Philadelphia meeting them in the regular or postseason.

And I'm not sure regarding the Week 4 pummeling of Indianapolis. There haven't been enough Week 4 rematches during the season for me to figure out whether or not those are meaningless. They "seem" a little iffy, but there's too small of a sample size.

If you want the "statistically correct" answer: if you beat a team by more than 7 points in the preseason, on average, you beat them by about 5 points in the regular season. 66% of teams that won by more than 7 points in the preseason won their rematch.

23
by carl s (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 1:48pm

RE: Moss
It's not like he's a cripple on grass; FP ranks as the #3 fantasy reciever right with Holt and TO. Also, with the sample size of 1 game against a secondary that is actually not particularly amazing, a little caution is probably necessary in calculating that he will have 1800 recieving yards or whatever.

24
by MarkB (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 1:51pm

#12 above hit the nail on the head. The Patriots don't have to win three in a row, they only have to win one - and they will then have won three in a row. The odds are certainly against then, but that is true of every team every year. The 'can't win three in a row' crowd are the same people who play the lottery every week.

Lottery; a tax on the mathematically ignorant.

25
by SLB1 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 2:10pm

RE: 23

I am not saying that Moss will have 1800+ yards (although playing in the AFC West I think he probably will!) but of all the things contained in FP, the statement that Randy Moss is just a "tall possession receiver on grass" struck me as absurd. I think last night showed why. Something broke down on the 75 yard play because there was only one guy on Moss, but the fact remains that he is something more than a "tall possession receiver" when he is on grass (no pun intended.)

26
by JonL (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 3:37pm

Someone made the point earlier that every preseason pick is the same, because they're all random guesses. This is true on some level, but there's also a difference between a random guess (Skip Bayless?) and an educated guess (Tom Jackson?)

It seems like saying all stock picks are the same, because everyone's guessing.

27
by sippican (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 3:49pm

Forget all that.

Vince Wilfork is leading the league in interceptions!

Using statistics, he'll finish the season with sixteen in the regular season, plus three in the playoffs. (C'mon, you know they'll get a bye with the nose tackle/ tackle leading the league in INTs)

As mike so ably pointed out, that's the same sort of statistical analysis that says:
"Winning three super bowls in a row hasn't been done, so it won't be done. It's like hard and stuff, so like, I think they won't, because it's hard and stuff."

28
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 3:58pm

Hmmm, I've always heard a slightly harsher definition.

Lottery: an idiot tax.

29
by Skip Bayless (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 4:12pm

Hey guys, sorry I'm such a freakin' moron!

30
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 4:40pm

I don't know where everyone is getting all this national media information about the Pats not winning because "it's never been done." Most of the people I've read and heard keep saying "it's really hard to three-peat but I can't go against the Pats, they are almost perfect in every way and every time I say they're not good they prove me wrong." I haven't heard too many people use that argument with the Eagles either and since they were clearly head and shoulders better than the rest of the NFC last year it doesn't seem like an easy argument to make.

31
by bonbon (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 4:57pm

omg skip bayless posts here??!! omg skip i love your column!

32
by Jeremy (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 5:21pm

Given the demographic of this site's users and the team that it's discussing here, I'm shocked that no one has yet made the best possible argument against the "it's never been done before" canard.

0-3. Baseball.

33
by Fast Eddy (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 6:56pm

Pretty hard to beat the Pats professionalism last night. They were ready for a grueling game, the Raiders obviously tired in the 2nd half and took a ton of penalties. That always happens when a team tires. So clearly, the Pats have a better offseason conditioning program. Is there anything they don't do well?

At least The Edge's software picked them to win on The Writers, where Football Outsiders also picked them. Neither of us picked them as favorites however. Oh ye of little faith! (Which includes NFL Edge.) But the software didn't pick them to beat the 7 1/2 point spread.

There are a couple of reasons for this, I think. First, the Raiders were doing ok, stopping the Pats several times, including on 4th down once. But they got smoked by 2 of the best punts ever seen in the league, each of which was downed on the 3. Plus I think that Collins and the coaches got flummoxed by the NE D in the 2nd half (what else is new?) And as I said, the Raiders just flat got tired.

These are hard things to factor into software.

But there's definitely hope for the Raiders this year. They weren't all that bad against the class of the league.

34
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 7:22pm

Fast Eddie (#33 )--

Loved this comment from nfl-edge.com's postgame analysis on OAK@NE:
All in all the Pats showed again why they deserved the Super Bowl last year, and that they won't just give up the Lombardi this year. It will have to be ripped from their cold dead hands.
Of course, there's a long list of the teams and players who would be all too thrilled to do the ripping, not to mention the cold-ing and dead-ing.

35
by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 7:35pm

exactly when did corey simon become this run stopping monster?
did i miss something?

36
by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 7:37pm

sorry, missed post 5

37
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 7:38pm

The "best" thing about the "it's never been done before" argument is that you can use it almost in perpetuity; you just modify it a little bit ...

"No team has ever won three straight Super Bowls." - repeat until 2006, if the Pats win, or much later, if they don't ...

"Only one team has ever won three straight Super Bowls." - repeat until the next occurrence ...

The down-0-3-come-back-to-win works the same way. (Thanks for not mentioning the '42 Red Wings, the only team to blow a 3-0 lead in the finals of its sport.) "Since 1905, only one team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit ..." Just watch. You'll see it. No mention of why the team in question can't come back, just that they can't.

38
by gabe (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 8:01pm

re: 11

Check your facts!!!!!!!
last year pre season: bengals - pats 31-3. Regular season, Pats beat the bengals...

39
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 9:03pm

gabe:

Read comment #22. I said "essentially". You've managed to find one of two outliers.

Also as a point of note, I should've said I only use the first half point differential. The second doesn't seem to have any correlation.

40
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 9:06pm

And as I said, the Raiders just flat got tired.

To be specific, the defensive line got tired. Amazing, that, considering 3 out of 4 are in their mid-30s. Never would've guessed that people age.

The secondary always looked bad. The difference in the second half was that the Patriots could run again because Sapp and co were sucking wind.

41
by Fast Eddy (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 9:39pm

Starshatterer, thanks for at least looking at that comment. I liked it my own self.

Yeah, sure, absolutely. Everybody wants to rip it from their cold dead hands. But there is the minor problem of actually doing it. Not that I'm all that hyped by the Pats. But my oh my, did Belichick ever look cool and comfy with no clipboard or anything in his hands. His subordinates had the clipboards and he just hung out, being the Master Strategist.

Go ahead. Beat us.

As I've said, the Raiders looked pretty good until they lost steam in the 2nd half. But if they hadn't, is there any doubt that Belichick would have found some way for the team to play *even better* and pull out a win somehow? Man the guy is good.

And the team is pretty amazing. Brady was just firing. If you look at replays he threw some amazing passes, across the field, whatever. Bullets, over and over. And I've got to admit, the ABC thing of looking at his feet a couple of times was pretty good. Absolute minimum of motion, no "happy feet" or anything.

Not a big Pats fan (Pats winning every year is boring to me) but these guys be good.

42
by sippican (not verified) :: Fri, 09/09/2005 - 11:01pm

Joe Theisman was on the radio the other day. He picked against the Pats to win it all this year based on his thinking that because the Pats have played 3-4 additional games each year for three of the four last seasons, it amounts to an additional, intense, high pressure season compared to the teams that lose early and watch it on TV. His view was that the physical wear and tear and mental strain are bound to tire a team.

It's not an insane analysis on the face of it.

But of course the Pats say bye bye to players about to take the slide at the end of their careers, reload, and start all over again by waxing the Raiders.

The camera panned the stadium, fireworks going off, lasers flashing, and there's Belichick, sitting on the bench, completely bored by the pregame banner celebration, impervious to either pressure or flattery, waiting patiently to feed poor Norv Turner his own kidneys.

I got the feeling that Norv had started game planning for the opener 10 months ago, and it worked for about 10 minutes. Norv had that: !@#$, I'm gonna be a coordinator again! look on his face by the third quarter.

Did you see Logan Mankins pick up Deion Branch after the TD like a little kid, and hold him there, at arm's length, over his head? The Pats don't look tired. The Pats don't look satisfied. The Pats don't look flustered by coordinators leaving.

They look better than last year. And they were plenty good enough then.

43
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 12:18am

re: #37,

I think he was referring to the Yankees/Red Sox series last year...

I didn't get to see the game but I heard it on the radio....what would you guys rate the Pats and Raider's performance, on a scale of 1-10?

44
by Josh (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 10:37am

pats:7
raiders:4

45
by Josh (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 10:47am

and not to beat a dead colt..er..horse, vic carruci has decided that the colts will win the super bowl thanks to the addition of corey simon, who should keep opposing running backs in check, making it a point to mention that they will keep corey dillon in check. just another writer speaking out of the a$$

46
by Pats on the Potomac (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 11:11am

Moss- Amazing player. Still a jerk, but I was watching him before every Raider snap. Just scary good. The thing about the 75-yard TD that stood out to me was that Samuel (I think) had pretty good coverage. He was right with Moss, got himself turned around, and ending up flopping into Moss as he played the ball. Moss still had the concentration to make the catch in stride and put a decent move on Harrison to get into the end zone. I love Deion Branch, but he doesn't make that catch or get the yards after contact if he does.
Pats repeating- They are the best team in the NFL right now. The best team doesn't always win.

47
by sippican (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 12:18pm

POTP said:
"They are the best team in the NFL right now. The best team doesn’t always win."

That bears repeating. I humbly submit an addendum:
To predict an outcome ignoring probability is to guess.

The Skips of the world that say that the Patriots are the best team but then pick any other team, are guessing. And picking one of 31 teams against one isn't exactly going out on a limb.

Preseason picks are interesting when the writer expains his thinking on how teams are being assessed.

Anyone picking MVP, or fer chrissakes, rookies of the year, before the season even starts, are either insane or pulling your leg or both.

48
by Fast Eddy (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 1:30pm

I have a motto which has stood me in good stead: "Actors gotta act." Which means that you can't get them into a movie or whatever and expect them to just hang out, they gotta have lines and stuff. Even if the lines are inappropriate or stupid.

Same with writers, or NFL writers. They gotta write something even if they're pulling it out of their a$$. Can't take them seriously, ever.

Except the writers on this site. Really guys, you're great!!!

49
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 1:44pm

LnGrrrR (#43 )--

To elaborate on Josh's grades in #44--

Patriots: 7 (3 of 4 offense, 3 of 4 defense, 1 of 2 special teams).
They looked sloppy at times, sharp at other times. The running game looked awful in the first half, decent in the second half. Brady was quite sharp, but missed a few passes on the rare occasions that the Raiders got some pressure on him. Their two-minute drill to end the half was fairly ineffective.
Defense let the Raiders drive the opening kick all the way for a TD and gave up the bomb to Moss, but then clamped down pretty well. They let the Raiders punch it in after the punt block, helping out with a couple penalties. Asante Samuel played Moss very well on the 2-point try, and that effectively doomed the Raiders.
Special teams looked okay (one good return, a couple mediocre ones, some penalties, 2 very good punts by Miller) until Vinatieri kicked the PAT low and got it blocked. Then the punting team let about 5 Raiders through to block the last punt in the fourth. The onside-kick "hands" team let the ball bounce -- it was heading out of bounds, but do you really want to bet on the direction a football bounces?

Raiders: 4 (2 of 4 offense, 1 of 4 defense, 1 of 2 special teams.)
Not surprisingly, the Raiders' performance mirrored the Patriots'. The offense came out smokin', taking the 7-0 lead, then retaking it 14-10. You'll hear a lot about how fabulous Moss looked catching the deep ball, and he looked great on those two deep catches. But he let himself get outmuscled by smaller guys on short patterns, especially one third-down play the Raiders really needed while it was still close, and on the 2-point try. Jordan ran well enough that the Pats swtiched to a 4-3 front, then he struggled a bit. After the game, he admitted that he tried to freelance too much, looking to break a big run rather than take 3-4 yards where the play was designed. They took advantage of the Patriots double-teaming Moss by throwing to TE Courtney Anderson for 2 red-zone TDs. Kerry Collins struggled whenever the Patriots got pressure on him, which was quite often during the third quarter.
The 1 point the Raiders' defense got was for stopping the run in the first half. Washington and Sapp crashed the run-blocking schemes inside, and those 280-lb OLBs looked surprisingly quick when Dillon bounced outside. But their pass coverage was weak, and when the Patriots went 5-wide, the Raiders had no answer other than blitz and hope. That forced them into nickel and dime coverage, which Brady still picked apart, and Dillon got rolling for more than 50 yards and 2 TDs in the second half when the big guys on the D-line ran out of steam.
The Raiders special teams were up-and-down. Lechler hit some very good punts, but Janikowski missed a FG they really could have used, and kicked the onside try out of bounds. The punt block was awesome, but too little, too late.

50
by TomC (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 2:33pm

re #17: The late great Bob Prince believed in a principle called “hidden vigorish� which holds that the longer a team wins, the closer it comes to losing.

He also believed in the magical powers of a hot dog painted green, so I'm not sure his analytical skills are quite up to FO standards.

51
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 4:00pm

Re: (#17, #50 )--
the longer a team wins, the closer it comes to losing.
This falls into the realm of probably true (unless the team in question is going to win every game it ever plays), but not useful when trying to decide if a team is going to win its next game. Or the next Superbowl.

Consider: there is a loss in team X's future, but we don't know when. They've won 10 games in a row, so we feel the loss to be close, and bet against them. However, it turns out that the team was barely started on a hundred-game winning streak, meaning we'll be losing our next 90 bets based on "hidden vigourish."

"Hidden vigorish" is just another way to express the Monte Carlo fallacy.

52
by Rich (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 5:31pm

Re: #46

Agree and disagree. Branch does turtle as he's about to get tackled, but he gets plenty of YAC.

Though I wonder if he's been ordered to turtle. He's a short, slightly-built guy. And the Pats intentionally kept him out of every preseason game this year. So maybe they told him to not take the hit unless it's absolutely necessary?

53
by Pat on the Back (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 7:59pm

Check out my roommate's take on Skip Bayless' opinion. See link.

54
by B (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 8:40pm

PotB, I think your blog should have a weekly "translating Skip Bayless" post. It really helped me understand him.

55
by DavidH (not verified) :: Sat, 09/10/2005 - 9:09pm

PotB:

Tell your roommate he's a funny guy. Favorite part was the NFL's Most Dosappointing Player comment.

56
by Daniel (not verified) :: Sun, 09/11/2005 - 3:02am

Reading Skip Bayless columns makes my frontal lobes go numb. I don't think the Patriots will repeat because other teams are catching up to them. While I agree that Corey Simon is not the greatest DT in the game he is definitely better than any of the stiffs the Colts have rolled out in recent years. Picking the Bengals is asinine. They are an up and coming team, but they haven't won a significant game in over a decade. I didn't think the Pats looked very good last Thursday. It wasn't just mental mistakes or bad bounces. They had some guys get flat out beat. Luckily Norv Turner decided not to have anyone block Richard Seymour. And Kerry Collins reverted to form and threw some horrible passes and the receivers helped him out by dropping a few.

57
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sun, 09/11/2005 - 10:03am

Daniel (#56 )--
I didn’t think the Pats looked very good last Thursday.
It's not unusual for the Patriots to come out flat in their opener. Consider the previous four:

2001: lose to the (then) doormat Bengals, at home, 23-17. Go on to win Superbowl.
2002: the exception. Open Gillette Stadium by blowing the doors off Pittsburgh, 30-14. Go on to miss the playoffs.
2003: go to Buffalo, get crushed 31-0. Go on to win the Superbowl.
2004: eke out a 27-24 home win over Indianapolis, aided by 3 red-zone turnovers and a rare sack of Peyton Manning, followed by a rare miss by Mike Vanderjagt. The closeness of that game and the sheer number of Colts gaffes, are factors in many prognosticators' picking the Colts to win in the playoffs. Patriots go on to win the Superbowl.

I'm not saying that looking sloppy in winning the home opener means that the Patriots will win the Superbowl. But it's no indicator that they won't, either.

58
by Jake (not verified) :: Sun, 09/11/2005 - 2:08pm

The funny thing is that despite many people saying "I can't pick against the Pats" most people are. Vegas odds have the Colts at 1/4 and the Pats at 1/5. ESPN expert picks have the 5 Colts picks, 3 Eagles picks, 2 Pats, 1 Steelers and 1 Rams. Dr Z picked the Panthers over the Colts. Overall 2 CNNSI experts pick the Pats, one the Colts and 2 the Panthers. At CBS sportsline, Prisco picked the Raiders and Judge picked the Eagles over the Colts. FoxSports has 1 Pats pick, 3 Colts picks, 2 Eagles picks, a Falcons, a Rams, a Panthers and Vikings pick. Going by these picks you'd have to put the Pats behind the Colts, Eagles and Panthers.

59
by Rodney Harrison (not verified) :: Sun, 09/11/2005 - 7:45pm

I told you so.

60
by MarkB (not verified) :: Sun, 09/11/2005 - 7:49pm

But seriously, there is a moron brigade who will keep picking the Colts until either they win or the Colts go bankrupt paying Herman Munster.

61
by Adam (not verified) :: Sun, 09/11/2005 - 10:10pm

All I have to say is...he wrote a column about why one paticular team would not win the Super Bowl. If I came into this baseball season saying that Red Sox would not win the World Series again, theres' a good chance I would be right. This does not make me an analyst, much less EARN ME A SALARY.

62
by deadteddy8 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 1:46am

I'm still upset Bayless lost the final to The Road From Bristol. I didn't realize so many people despised Stu Scott. Anyway... I've re-read the article, and I wonder if this wasn't an attempt to be subtle gone awry. In other words, he is actually trying to make an argument for picking the Pats; it's just that we're so used to his inanity and staggering lack of logic that we thought he was incapable of rhetorical subtlety. True, the specific facts and logic are lacking, and he falls into his usual trap of believing that because he is on ESPN the first person assertion carries weight, but it could be read as a pick for New England by showing that there is no good way to pick against them... Oh, hell. He probably is just an idiot.