Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Jan 2011

ESPN AGS: Seahawks over Saints

AGS analyzes how rare the Seahawks' upset was and how likely it is to happen again.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 12 Jan 2011

7 comments, Last at 19 Jan 2011, 1:26pm by spenczar


by KnowsHow2RamIt :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:37pm

I don't have ESPN Insider, but my guess is:
1. Very rare.
2. Not very likely.

by B :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 7:43pm

I don't think it's that rare at all. At least once or twice a season a playoff* team loses to a team that's ranked in the bottom of DVOA (the 25-32 range). The only difference is the lower ranked team was also a playoff team and it happened in the playoffs.
*Defined as a team that made/will make the playoffs that year.

by spenczar :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 10:02pm

But the reasons people put forward for those losses - the weaker team was overlooked by the better one, the better team was resting its starters, and so on - don't apply in the playoffs, so the analogy to the regular season isn't necessarily very strong.

Those regular season losses are still at least uncommon, also, so I'm not sure you've justified your dismissal that its "not that rare at all."

by ammek :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 5:34am

I haven't read the article either, but B's criteria would match not one or two, but six 2010 regular-season 'upsets':

Skins over Bears
Skins over Eagles
Skins over Packers
Hawks over Bears
Cards over Saints
Vikes over Eagles

And that's without including Seattle as a playoff team: it had two losses to bottom-quartile opponents (Denver, St Louis). My list also excludes results that DVOA perceives to be equally shocking to the Sea-NO playoff: Browns over Pats, Bengals over Ravens, Seahawks over Chargers, etc.

Perhaps the reasons that people use to explain those losses aren't the right ones.

by Insancipitory :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 5:45am

I would point out in the denver loss not only were the broncos playing much better, but that week it was 60 F in Seattle and 120 F on the field in denver.

by spenczar :: Wed, 01/19/2011 - 1:26pm

That's some sweet cherry picking, man.

Here's each team's record vs playoff teams in the regular season (I include Seattle as a playoff team):
25. MIN 1-7
26. DEN 1-5
27. WAS 3-2
28. BUF 0-9
29. STL 1-3
30. SEA 1-3
31. CAR 0-7
32. ARI 1-4

Total: 8-40
Winning percentage: 0.167

I'd say that a win by a bottom 8 team over a playoff team counts as unexpected, yeah.

by nat :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 10:53am

Upsets are way more common than people think.

Just looking at divisional games, and ONLY counting splits as one upset and assuming all other games are not upsets, you still conclude that more than 27% of NFL games are upsets. (I only looked at this year's AFC, but this is similar to numbers I've found when I've done this before.) If you consider beatloops of more than two games, the guaranteed percentage of upsets is probably more than 30%.

Given the DVOA gap, I would have put this one at less than that 30% chance but more than a 10% chance. Given the weighted DVOAs, I would have put it closer to 10%.

But shit happens.