Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Jan 2014

Aaron Schatz on B.S. Report

It's my long-awaited return to the B.S. Report, to discuss this year's NFL playoffs. Things get a little rushed because I had to go parent, but we do get in some discussion of the Divisional round as well as the recent history of upsets in the playoffs. Note that in the podcast, I said our Premium picks were 1-3 vs. the spread this weekend, 2-2 if you use the original KC-IND line. Actually, they were 2-2 vs. the spread (SD and SF), 3-1 with the original KC-IND line.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 06 Jan 2014

16 comments, Last at 10 Jan 2014, 8:42pm by Matthias Galvin


by Richie :: Mon, 01/06/2014 - 4:20pm

About time.

by Whiskey (not verified) :: Mon, 01/06/2014 - 4:41pm

Do you project money lines? Spreads, especially football spreads, are highly influenced by random effects, whereas many of the random effects, like pace, do not carry over to the probability of one team beating another in quite the same way.

by RoninX (not verified) :: Mon, 01/06/2014 - 8:00pm

Not Aaron fault of course, but the BS report could use a little more Aaron and less Cousin Sal.

by Chappy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/07/2014 - 11:21am

I thought the same thing, but I must also say that Simmons rambles about his irrelevant superstitions too long as well. They basically didn't even talk about the 49ers vs. Panthers game. Schatz has lots of match-up insights, but the discussion was basically that the past game result doesn't guarantee future performance.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 01/07/2014 - 1:37pm

Not saying I disagree, but you have to take the spreadguessing for what it is: It's Simmons and his good friend sitting on the couch cursing their gambling luck and trying to arrive at sometimes forced jokes.

That is exactly what my conversations with my friends about football sounds like, and I enjoy getting a dose of it every monday. Not because it educates me, but because it entertains me.

In general: If I take Simmons as entertainment, I can easily forgive his homerism and irrationality... I actually find it refreshing that he's open about his homerism, and that he doesn't give a crap if Lakers or Yankees fans gets mad if he calls up his dad and talks Boston sports for 30 minutes. He likes Boston - sue him.

by Malene, copenhagen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/07/2014 - 5:31pm

True. But it's still pretty awkward to hear Aaron desperately try to avoid saying "Uhm... that's... actually a pretty dumb theory, Bill", whenever Simmons tries to talk actual football.
For someone who clearly loves FO, it always baffles me how little Simmons truly gets FO methods. It's like someone who bought an expensive car but doesn't have a drivers license.
Case in point - "I know you didn't do your numbers yet Aaron, but I REALLY crunched ALL the numbers for my friday column", meaning ridiculous non sequitur factoids. There's SO MUCH PARITY NOW! Uhm, no Bill, it's... BUT ANDY REID MISMANAGED THE CLOCK! well actually it was more Brandon Flowers who.. BUT!
Kinda funny.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 01/07/2014 - 6:20pm

Yeah.. Same thing when Zach Lowe is on. Zach is great, but it often ends up being Simmons dumping theories on him which Lowe then does what he can to pick apart without calling his employer ignorant. Anyway maybe thats why Simmons work well with Sal - no akwardness, just two guys making jokes while trying but not really to win in gambling.

by RoninX (not verified) :: Wed, 01/08/2014 - 6:52pm

I understand all that. And the BS report is fine as entertainment. I listen weekly. But usually guests (and in the past Aaron has) gotten a little more chance to provide their insight and viewpoints.

by Matthias Galvin (not verified) :: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 8:42pm

Hey, I dunno, as far as guests go, I would say that Cousin Sal is the best war movie since Saving Private Ryan.

by theslothook :: Tue, 01/07/2014 - 11:40pm

What's crazy is bill purports to have deep understanding about basketball. I just can't imagine a guy who spouts these incoherent pseudo-psychological explanations for why results happen can ever be taken seriously about anything. You notice how often aaron will make a statement and bill will try to veer it into the direction of psychology, with aaron carefully trying to steer it back.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Wed, 01/08/2014 - 12:13pm

He knows some elements of basketball, but is basically an old guard anti-stats person despite his statements (and beliefs) to the contrary. If you listen to his basketball analysis he is constantly surprised when people/teams with pretty box score numbers but bad defense and other more subtle metrics do poorly, and surprised when the reverse happens.

"Oh look the Timberwolves are going to be great because they are going to score a million points!" No analysis of defense considered. A couple weeks later the team is doing slightly worse then expected mostly due to bad luck and due to the defense being predictably terrible and it is all "Oh my god how are the Timeberwolves not winning more games? Ricky Rubio is a terrible shooter. How can you lose games when Love is scoring 40 pts and getting 20 rebounds!?!"

It analysis on the level of "run to win", or maybe a tiny bit better than that, but not much. He certainly is smart enough to understand that the stat people understand what is going on an he doesn't, but then for some reason steadfastly clings to his insane narratives little better than Joe Morganisms.

Maybe it is all an act? Or maybe he feels like since he has all these stats people he likes he needs to balance his street cred with lots of mindless narrative spewing. I really don't understand it. He seems aware he is wrong, and just sticks his fingers in his ears and insists he is right, which is much more confusing than the people who do the same but are not aware they are wrong.

by PatsFan :: Wed, 01/08/2014 - 1:54pm

Which is why it's been so annoying to see Simmons featured at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

(Of course,
(1) I feel the same way about Harry Potter exhibits at science museums, and
(2) The SSAC is really two conferences in one these days -- a small analytics conference and a big sports networking conference that pays some lip service to analytics.)

by tuluse :: Wed, 01/08/2014 - 6:58pm

Simmons likes to construct story lines from sports. That's what he is and what he does. There's nothing wrong with this, unless the narrative is built off faulty information.

He obviously doesn't have a deep knowledge of advanced stats, but he does understand they have value.

I think he is a reasonable basketball scout, but probably just doesn't watch many Timberwolves games. Now, why he feels qualified to comment when he clearly isn't informed is anyone's guess.

by Dan L (not verified) :: Wed, 01/08/2014 - 11:54pm

Ok, so I may be just adding to the armchair psychoanalysis here, but for me Simmons has always been someone who understands the value of statistics when thinking soberly, but who rejects them when emotionally invested. Homerism is often brought up, but it is not just his favorite team that gets him in an emotional state. I think he (like many people) has some serious cognitive dissonance about the better team losing a playoff game. Simmons combats this by deciding that a seemingly superior team that loses in the playoffs must not be "for real". From there he extrapolates that if a quarterback or coach is part of more than one if these "not for real" teams in their career, then that coach or quarterback must not be "for real" in general. It is the reaction to this cognitive dissonance which is wrong, but that does not preclude him from being very intelligent otherwise. A lot of people are generally intelligent but can form very silly beliefs due to biases in this way.

by theslothook :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 1:53am

I will concede that it's entirely possible that this all just his act to get readers and listeners. Just like I think Skip is 100 percent doing this for ratings.

That said, I suppose I should cut bill some slack. He's not the only one who does this(in fact, its quite the opposite) and there's so many others who actually should know better but still spout nonsense.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 01/08/2014 - 9:45pm

Its staggering that Simmons still doesn't realize that the times for each host in Divisional Weekend is determined before the matchup is known.

The NFL didn't pick Colts @ Pats in primetime. Whoever went to New England was 8PM.

Also, as someone who worked in TV, it's weird he didn't know that Sunday at 4:30 is a far better TV window than Saturday at 8.

Finally, in my last TV-related criticism, CBS, who 'hates the Patriots', is not having Jim Nantz call a Patriots playoff game for the first time ever. Every divisional round Pats game since 2004 (when Nantz took over the CBS A-Team) has been called by Nantz and Simms.