Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Nov 2005

8-0, Not Halfway to 16-0

King Kaufman makes the very sensible point that, although some pundits will label the 8-0 Colts as halfway to an undefeated season, they're really not. Many teams have started 8-0, but no team has finished 16-0. The '72 Dolphins can't break out the champagne just yet, but they shouldn't sweat, either.

Kaufman also writes about two timekeeping problems from Sunday: the Philadelphia Eagles lost time because of a mistake by the officials, and there's no way Larry Johnson's game-winning touchdown for the Kansas City Chiefs took five seconds. The official NFL play-by-play account lists the play like this: (:05) L.Johnson up the middle for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN. It just doesn't take five seconds for a running back to go up the middle for one yard.

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Posted by: Michael David Smith on 08 Nov 2005

30 comments, Last at 10 Nov 2005, 11:19pm by Kurt


by pawnking (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 3:29pm

Funny, I don't remember a lot of the pundits saying before the game that if Indy wins, it's no big deal. Yet, article after article, that's what I read after the Colts slammed the Pats.

I wonder why?

by bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 3:37pm

I DO like his point that when they're 14-0, then they'll be about halfway to 16-0. I don't entirely agree, but he's more or less on target. (I mean, come on, the last game is Arizona! But before that is Seattle, and there's Jax, Pit, Cin, SD.... it's no cakewalk.) Frankly, if you recall the last two 15-1 teams, neither of which made the SB but lost at home in the championship games, I'd feel better about 14-2. As everyone knows, it's not your in-season record (except that it helps the playoff path to be easier), it's how well you're playing at the end.
It was funny that at one point early Al Michaels made a disparaging commments about how "the media" will start crowing about 16-0 if the Colts win, and about five minutes later, he brought it up himself, as if it was a perfectly legit topic of discussion, five minutes after it was silly. I think Madden's senility has rubbed off.

by Bockman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 3:43pm

But sports writers were equally insane by contending that the Colts' season hinged on beating the Pats.
Say Indy lost, then won out the rest of the year, got home field advantage, never played the Pats in the playoffs and won the Superbowl? Would people minimize their championship because way back in Week 9 they lost to the Pats?

by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 3:43pm

Are you the same Michael Smith who wrote this bunch of crap? If so, you're an idiot. If not, please disregard the previous sentence.

All the Manning-haters will never admit that he won a big game until the Colts win the Super Bowl. And if that happens, they will immediately change the criteria & say that one title means nothing & that Manning needs to win 3 Super Bowls.

Some quotes from this article:
Games played this time of year simply do not qualify as "big." For Manning, Dungy, and the team they lead, the 2005 regular season is a mere prelude to possibility -- the possibility that they finally might win the game that truly matters. Let's be real about something: Not to come across as a hater, but a 40-21 win over the Patriots -- these depleted Patriots, who these days are simply having difficulty defending their end zone, let alone their back-to-back championships -- pretty much is the equivalent if standing up to your elementary school bully 25 years later...
Anyway, this matchup, quite frankly, was not the fairest of fights.

This guy is the definition of "a hater".

by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 3:49pm

Uh, no, I'm not the same Michael Smith. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm not an idiot, though.

by Rob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 3:49pm

It is not the same "Michael Smith" and he has said so I think a few times. I think that's why he purposely puts the 'David' in "Michael David Smith" to distinguish himself from the other Michael Smith.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 3:52pm

why he purposely puts the ‘David’ in “Michael David Smith� to distinguish himself from the other Michael Smith.

the latter being officially known as Michael The Idiot Smith

by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 4:12pm

Good to know! I like this site & respect the insight of The Outsiders, such as MDS. After seeing that Michael "The Idiot" Smith article on ESPN.com, I was afraid that I had been duped by another East Coast-biased website falsely claiming to be impartial.

My apologies for Michael David Smith for the incorrect accusation. My condolences to you for having to share a name with that jackanapes who works for ESPN.com.

by Kurt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 4:32pm

King Kaufman makes the very sensible point that, although some pundits will label the 8-0 Colts as halfway to an undefeated season, they’re really not. Many teams have started 8-0, but no team has finished 16-0.

This makes no sense. Whether something has a 50% chance of happening has no bearing on whether you're halfway there. With lots of training I might conceivably be able to run 13.whatever miles. I would be halfway to the finish line of a marathon, even if I were completely wiped out and had no chance to finish it. 8 is half of 16. The Colts are halfway to 16-0.

by josh (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 5:14pm

So what, Kurt.

by Joey (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 5:26pm

So, 8 isn't half of 16? Obviously his math teachers never called him "King."

by Drew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 5:29pm

Re 10,

Actually, Kurt makes a valid point.

I also don't think the Colts will go 16-0. But that doesn't change the fact that they are, literally, halfway to 16-0.

I'm actually a little worried about the Houston game coming up. If ever there was a setup for a letdown, this is it. It's like the perfect storm of setups for a letdown, coupled with the "trap game" potential with Cincy and Pittsburgh coming up. Don't get me wrong, though; I still think the Colts will win.

by Nuk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 5:34pm

So, if the colts are 15-0 going into the Arizona game, will they play the starters? Dungy hasn't shown any propensity to play his starters for games that don't affect playoff standing before, but this might be different.
As a Colts fan, I really want them to go for the whole 19-0. Winning a superbowl is no big deal - someone does it every year. But no one has ever gone 19-0. If they did that, I could be happy through a lot more 3-13 years.

by George W (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 5:46pm

8 half of 16?!? (chuckle, chuckle) Well you must be using some of that fuzzy math.

Where I come from, you're only halfway when you can see the see the saddle sores on the frog of the one that brung ya'. Or something. Um...wanna buy some wood?

by Kurt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 6:15pm

Is the site broken? Comments are taking forever to show up, and there's no TMQ link yet.

by Stiller Fan in Cle (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 6:30pm

Did anybody else see the end of the KC game? I swear they deliberately ran the last 3 seconds off of the clock. I was yelling at the TV, apparantly everyone else was oblivious...the Raiders should have at least gotten a shot at a kickoff...

by Ben Roethlisberger (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:46pm

The Colts are going to go 15-1 with their one loss to Pittsburgh, unless of course my right leg falls off before the Indianapolis game.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:28pm

They definitely let the clock run in the KC game. I was thinking the same thing. They might as well make it a rule that after a go-ahead score at the end of a game there is an automatic clock run-off of three seconds, it happens so often anyway. In the Pats-Rams Super Bowl, it kept going even after the ball hit the net.

by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:54pm

I think the weirdest thing about the end of the KC game was that they kicked the PAT. If the time had actually all run off, there should not have been a kick, so the referees put it in an odd limbo by kicking the PAT but not the ensuing kickoff.

by Björn (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:09am

Yeah, and the spread was 4.5, not 4, so it did me no freakin good anyway!

by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:10am

Alex, there's always a PAT after every touchdown. The time on the clock has nothing to do with it.

by Sergio (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:07am

Except, of course, on overtime...

by Pat on the Back (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 10:39am

They are halfway in that they have to repeat everything they have done: namely, go 8-0 again. However, I think both King Kauffman and some of the commentors on this page are both a bit off track. Yes, numerically, they are half way, but the probability (and the ability) of running off 8 straight wins has little if anything to do with the season up to this point, and 8 straight wins are hard to accomplish, even if they remain blessedly free from injury. As to King Kauffman, he is trying to argue that 16 straight wins is statistically a minute possibility, but is forgetting that, even if a coin comes up tails 8 times in a row, it still has a 50% chance of being heads the next time (though the next 8 times is a bit different). He seems to discount the fact that the Colts have already gone 8-0 a bit too much. This is just like two years ago when the Pats finished with 12 straight wins, people were saying "can they win 15 in a row?" well, all that mattered at that point was 3 in a row, not 15.

I actually was writing a guest column about what it would take to go undefeated, including a few survivor models and things of the like, and I wish I had gotten it to work for just such an occasion. Unfortunately, It's on my computer back in the States.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 11:25am


Yes Kurt, you're halfway to the end of a marathon, but you're nowhere near halfway towards being able to run a marathon.

You can go out and run 10K with no training. That doesnt mean you're a quarter of the way to being able to run a marathon.

This is the same thing with the pats and that streak last year. When you get down into the end of the season, and the colts are playing real teams, everyone will be gunning for them, and they will fall.

by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:37pm

I'm going to make a bold statement & Manning-haters will probably disagree (because that's what haters do)-- Out of all 32 teams, the Colts have the best chance to go undefeated this year.

So much of the focus has been on the Colts easy schedule. I agree-- it has been easy but it's going to get difficult.

In the Indy Star, they listed the other 10 teams since 1970 who started out at least 8-0 but failed to go unbeaten. It is interesting to note who they lost to-- most of those teams had average records.
98 Den - NYG 5-8
85 Chi - Mia 8-4
91 Wash - Dal 6-5
84 Mia - SD 5-6
90 SF - LA 3-7
90 NYG - Phil 6-4
75 Minn - Wash 6-4
03 KC - Cin 4-5
73 Minn - Atl 6-3
77 Dal - SL 5-3

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:25pm

The other problem, of course, is that the Colts get injured just like everyone else. I'd imagine Dungy cares a bit more about the Super Bowl than he does about going undefeated through the regular season.

by Ryan Carney (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:54pm

There are so many variables in trying to say that the Colts are half way there. The marathon example is infinitely flawed, and objectifies something that is entirely subjective and can have mnay variables. For instance, the schedule, the first half was pretty easy, with the banged up Patriots the big tester. The second half, however, sees Pittsburgh, Cincinatti, and Seattle, and a Jacksonville team who, while I don't believe in trends, ALWAYS shows up for the Colts. Can they go undefeated? yeah, is the second half going to be as easy as the first half? no. In order to go 16-0 a team has to show up and be sharp every week, I don't see this from the Colts (offense against the niners, 13-6 win over Cleveland, being tied with Houston at half) There is good reason to see why the odds are against a 16-0 season.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 2:11am

Is it really so hard to grasp that accomplishing 50% of something is different from having a 50% chance of accomplishing something?

The Colts are halfway to a perfect season. It's a fact.

As far as their chance of going 16-0, I put them at 9% and I would agree that only after they go 14-0 does their chance rise to 50%.

I posted this elsewhere but it's fun so I'll try it again: Go through the rest of the Colts schedule. Assign a percentage chance to them winning each game. Then multiply those eight percentages together to see what you really think their chance of going unbeaten is. In fact, post it here if you don't mind. I came up with 9% and I'd be curious to see what some other people come up with.

by Kurt (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 11:17pm

For instance, the schedule, the first half was pretty easy, with the banged up Patriots the big tester. The second half, however, sees Pittsburgh, Cincinatti, and Seattle, and a Jacksonville team who, while I don’t believe in trends, ALWAYS shows up for the Colts. Can they go undefeated? yeah, is the second half going to be as easy as the first half?

Okay, this argument I can live with. If Kaufman had argued anything remotely like this, I wouldn't have said a word. Mikey is right, though. Accomplishing 50% of something is completely different from having a 50% chance of accomplishing something?

by Kurt (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 11:19pm

It's not hard to imagine the Colts dismantling Pittsburgh and then hearing a loud chorus of well, the Steelers were never that good, and so on. At least if there's a Pittsburgh version of Bill Simmons.