If you were to have asked me before this weekend at least what newspaper I would go to if I want the best available football analysis I might have said the Daily News or New York Post-mainstream papers that is not a specialty paper like the Sporting News, etc.-of all the NY papers at least the Wall Street Journal would have been my last choice and I suspect this would be the consensus pick. The Wall Street Journal is a great paper for certain types of news, arguably it is the best for most "hard news", really anything but sports news.
However a little piece on pg. A26 of Friday's Journal (9/23/11) was very interesting in a section called Take a Number: NFL Week 3: The Massey-Peabody Power Rankings. This ranking system is the brainchild of Cade Massey, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Management, and Rufus Peabody, a Las Vegas sports analyst which projects a team's future performance based on its predicted point differential against an average team on a neutral field.
Comparing Massey-Peabody against the Vegas line, it did pretty well this week. As the article had pointed out on Friday, while Vegas had the Raiders a 3 and 1/2 point underdog to the Jets M-P had the Raiders as 5.5 favorites based on their respective power rankings-the Raiders going in had a ranking of 7 out of 32 teams with a 2.42-again this suggests that on a neutral field facing an average team you would expect the Raiders to win by about 2.42 points. The highest ranking coming in to yesterday's games was the Packers with a 3.21, the lowest was Kansas City (-4.36)-while the Jets were ranked 15 with a 0.38. Yesterday's strong showing by the Raiders in their 34-24 upset was clearly a good call by P-M.
What's interesting is that the Jets coming in to yesterday had a P-M ranking of only 15 with a 0.38. This is a team that is fairly highly regarded by conventional opinion, played in the last 2 AFC championship games and was 2-0 over the first 2 weeks with a point differential of 59-27 while their Raider opponent was only 1-1 with a break even in points scored-points allowed (58-58). A major virtue of this system is it based exclusively on 2011 performance. Most of us for example had a harder time in believing in teams like the Lions and Bills until we really see them follow through with early promise. This power ranking system doesn't blush in rating the Detroit Lions highly. Which is a virtue as the Lions came back from a 20-0 deficit to win again yesterday for a 3-0 mark.
Indeed there were a few very impressive calls for P-M on Sunday. In addition to the Raiders over the Jets they called the Bills earth-shattering 34-31 OT win over the Patriots-Vegas line had Pats as 9 point favorites-and while the Eagles were favored by 8 points over the Giants, Peabody-Massey suggested a close game with the Eagles only a slight favorite due to home field advantage as the rankings had the Giants actually slightly ahead of the Eagles 11th to 12trh respectively(1.24 to 1.00).
Perhaps then, those of you who like to bet on the NFL should give their system a second look I myself can be a betting man though usually not on football as since I'm a fan I worry betting on the games would ruin it for me-when I want to bet I prefer poker or the stock market. However I must admit that P-M has me intrigued and I will follow it this week again.