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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Upset Special of Week 4

The web site is updated with the lineal title changes and the Week 3 SuperPower Rankings, which reveals teams that really divide the rankings, with some having them at #9 while others have them in the 20s. The Panthers are 7th on CBS and 21st in Cole's Yahoo rankings; the Bucs are 19th in ESPN and Robinson's Yahoo rankings but 9th in NBC; the Eagles are 9th in Cole and 21st in NBC.

The Colts merged the NFL lineal titles this week and play a Broncos team next that I think is overrated. The loss to Jacksonville should have exposed them - they should not have been anywhere near the top after such close wins over two teams everyone thinks are awful - but they're still no lower than 12th in any list. People are thinking it says more about the Jags, who move up 10 spots to 8th in the SuperPower Rankings. Jacksonville has a bye this week, but I just might pick the Chiefs against them. Which brings me to my picks, where I'm 3-0 on upset specials. I thought this one was fairly obvious - just about any team could have upset the Broncs the way they were playing. Evidently not everyone agreed.

This week I'm picking the #20 Lions over the #11 Bears. The Bears are facing problems beyond the QB position. If the offense can't get going, even with Griese, the Lions offense could overpower the vaunted Bears defense. All my other picks are here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Delay in Regular Update

Because I'm a bit under the weather with a cold, the release of the Week 3 Consensus Power Rankings and my Week 4 picks are delayed until tomorrow morning.

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 3

NBC's Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For the last seven weeks of the season, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.

Last year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. CBS and Fox were able to protect one game every week each but had to leave one week each unprotected and had to submit their protections after only four weeks.

Now, NBC lists the game it "tentatively" schedules for each night, and by all appearances, CBS and Fox can't protect anything. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.

Here are the rules from the NFL web site:

  • Begins Sunday of Week 11
  • In effect during Weeks 11-17
  • Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
  • The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
  • The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
  • The NBC Sunday night time slot in "flex" weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
  • NFL schedules all games.
  • Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.
Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:

Week 11 (November 18):
  • Tentative game: Chicago @ Seattle
  • Prospects: Cloudy, but looking promising. Seattle is off to a decent start but Chicago could start stinking up the joint.
  • Other possible games: Redskins @ Cowboys; Panthers @ Packers. That the NFL's biggest rivalry did not merit a preliminary pick on Sunday night does not bode well; however, either could prove a very, very significant matchup.

Week 12 (November 25):

  • Tentative game: Philadelphia @ New England
  • Prospects: Potentially appealing. It all depends on whether the Eagles continue in the mold of their recent win or their first two losses.
  • Other possible games: All the other teams in's top five in the power rankings have other commitments on Thanksgiving or Monday night. Ravens-Chargers, Broncos-Bears, and the dark horse in Bucs-Redskins could all be spoilers, but look for this to stay a McNabb-Brady matchup.

Week 13 (December 2):

  • Tentative game: Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
  • Prospects: Downright mixed. The Steelers have started promisingly, but the Bengals have struggled enough coming out of the gate that this could look very lopsided.
  • Other possible games: Jaguars-Colts, Seahawks-Eagles, and a true dark horse: Texans-Titans.

Week 14 (December 9):

  • Tentative game: Indianapolis @ Baltimore
  • Prospects: Very good, with both teams out to hot starts. However, the Ravens aren't quite Super Bowl contenders, so Steelers-Patriots could well pull the upset.

Week 15 (December 16):

  • Tentative game: Washington @ NY Giants
  • Prospects: Bad. The Giants need to pick up quickly to avoid being flexed out.
  • Other possible games: Jaguars-Steelers and Seahawks-Panthers are dark horses, but look for Eagles-Cowboys to be flexed into this spot.

Week 16 (December 23):

  • Tentative game: Tampa Bay @ San Francisco
  • Prospects: Could be better than might have been thought before the season. However, it is a 9-vs.-16 matchup in the NBC Sports Power Rankings.
  • Other possible games: Texans-Colts, Packers-Bears, Ravens-Seahawks - with Jets-Titans a potential dark horse.

Week 17 (December 30):

  • Tentative game: Kansas City @ NY Jets
  • Prospects: Horrid. Two 1-2 teams? They need to get better fast.
  • Other possible games: Steelers-Ravens, Titans-Colts, Cowboys-Redskins, Panthers-Bucs, with Packers-Lions a dark horse. Playoff positioning watch begins after Week 9.

Week 4 College Football Rankings

Only one sport could inspire ESPN to run a 25-hour pregame show leading up to their first game of the new season: college football! After four wild and wacky weeks, we’re ready for the new C Ratings. In a last minute change, I decided that OT games ould be considered to have an MoV of 0. That means they only affect the winning percentage component of A Rating while averaging a 0, which translates to a .5, on the score ratio component. They also give B Points similar to a I-AA game: only the home field modifier regardless of outcome. As exciting as college football OT is, it’s a joke and has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual play of the game. It’s more of a skills competition, akin to penalty kicks in soccer. If drives occurred the way they do in actual play, as opposed to starting within field goal range, I might give it more weight.

As always, the first few weeks are still rather volatile, but still instructive. Impressively, LSU led the C Ratings after a masterful Week 1 performance over Mississippi State and have never looked back, up by nearly 5000. Florida, bolstered by my decision to include Western Kentucky as a I-A team despite a mostly I-AA schedule, is making the coming 1-2 showdown a can’t miss bout. USC looked like a preseason favorite after demolishing Michigan in the Rose Bowl and adding perhaps the best recruiting class in the nation, but they might not be the best team in their own conference. Oregon has looked unstoppable thus far. To think the ESPN family won’t have any Pac-10 action on October 27th, when these two square off on FSN. Oklahoma and Ohio State might also be contenders to go to New Orleans. It looks like it’ll be a long season in South Bend: the Golden Domers are in dead last and could stay there the rest of the way.

How the C Ratings are tabulated: First, A Ratings are tabulated by multiplying the total score ratio, which is expressed by (points-opponents’ points)/points, by the winning percentage. Score ratio minimizes the effect of running up the score. Next, B Points for each game are tabulated by (margin of victory)/(opponent’s A rating)+/-1 for wins, and -(margin of loss)/(1-opponent’s A Rating)+/-1 for losses. The “+/-” is + for road games and - for home ones. The total number of B Points is multiplied by the A Rating to get the B Rating. Conference Ratings are tabulated by averaging the B Ratings of all teams in the conference. (Independents are counted separately, and Army and Navy are counted as one conference.) Finally, the C Rating is tabulated by taking the difference between the team’s B Rating and his conference’s rating, taking a fraction of that equal to the fraction of Division I-A the conference makes up, and taking the result off the B Rating. The three ratings go A, B, C across.

1.LSU (4-0)
SEC Leader
2004 Auburn Title

With 7 teams in positive B Points in the SEC, if LSU can run the table, they better be No. 1 in the polls as well.

2.Florida (4-0)
Princeton Title

The LSU-Florida game in two weeks could be the game of the year.

3.Oklahoma (4-0)
Big 12 Leader

If USC falters, look for the Sooners to take advantage and run for the National Championship.

Pac-10 Leader

Huh? What are the Ducks doing here? They’ve never scored less than 30, only this week gave up more than 30, and never won by less than 20. If they stay unbeaten until USC at home and win there...

5.Ohio State (4-0)
Big 10 Leader
2007 Boise State Title

The Buckeyes might be able to run the table if the Big 10 is as down a conference as people have started to think.

6.USC (3-0).8016307.5295757.221

USC’s problem is twofold: two of its games were against mediocre opposition at best and they let Nebraska get garbage time scores. But more to the point? One fewer game than everyone else.

7.Kentucky (4-0).7384274.0084091.191

WTF? Never scored less than 40, never given up more than 35, and delivered a solid defeat to a decent Arkansas team. But the meat of the SEC is still to come.

8.West Virginia (4-0)
Big East Leader

After a strong year, the Big East appears to once again be out of the top four BCS conferences. That just means a dominant-looking West Virginia could be unstoppable.

9.Cincinnati (4-0).9124187.5253830.794

Huh? Scored less than 40 only once, never given up more than 14, beat a decent Oregon State team. They don’t want to just be spoilers this year.

10.Connecticut (4-0).8133682.7753359.694

What on earth is UConn doing at 4-0? Crushing a still-good Pitt team by 20 shows they’re for real. They might not drop for a while with Cincy and WV not on the schedule until November.

11.Hawaii (4-0)
Non-BCS Leader

With the early favorites to be BCS busters struggling early, it looks like Hawaii is the major hope to crash the party—even if they did have to squeeze a victory over Louisiana Tech.

12.Arizona State (4-0).8003178.1502888.623

The Sun Devils, constantly on the verge of becoming a Pac-10 power, have looked impressive early on. But the real test comes October 27, when Cal comes to town.

13.Michigan State (4-0).7312975.8472764.890

The yearly heartbreak hasn’t started yet, and the weak Irish didn’t do anything to change that. But Wisconsin this week is the strongest team yet.

14.Boston College (4-0)
ACC Leader

Their next three look to continue the Eagles’ winning ways, but their hopes at the ACC Title Game will be decided when they return to ACC play against V-Tech, FSU, Clemson, and Miami.

15.California (4-0).7002683.7872435.457

Weak opposition largely to blame for the low rating. But they have a shot to establish their bona fides this week against Oregon.

16.Missouri (4-0).6982360.8062148.470

They've faced nothing but weak opposition so far, but right now they look like the power team in the Big 12 North.

17.Texas (4-0).7302318.4742110.372

The tight win over UCF is really hurting their ranking, but it looks like it’s going to be a nice year for Colt McCoy and the Longhorns.

18.Purdue (4-0).7812254.1272109.328

Only cupcakes so far, but never scored less than 45. Look for the run to end October 6 against Ohio State.

19.Wisconsin (4-0).6752210.0442069.285

The Badgers might be a paper tiger, but unbeaten is unbeaten. We'll see how strong they really are against Michigan State this week.

20.Rutgers (3-0).8892273.4832044.354

Demolished their first three opponents quite handily to pick up where they left off last year. Of course, Navy was the only decent team of the bunch, and one was I-AA; Maryland and Cincy should bulk up the resume.

21.Illinois (3-1).5481891.8641780.272

Huh? Lost to a good Missouri team by only 6; then turned around and crushed a decent Indiana team. They can prove their worth to the nation this week against Penn State.

22.Texas Tech (3-1).5291476.3981352.503

Keep in mind, the tight loss to Oklahoma State<>

23.Alabama (3-1).5191153.6941282.909

OT loss to Georgia aside, the Crimson Tide looked dominant to start the season. Like Texas Tech, they’ll probably fall off, but they could be spoilers to LSU on November 3rd.

24.Kansas (4-0).9401143.4371052.838

Huh? Weak opposition inflates their A Rating—Toledo was the only team to score double digits against them, while KU has never scored less than 45. Could they be Big 12 North contenders?

25.Clemson (4-0).7481288.7871032.361

Except FSU, Clemson has faced only weak opposition, deflating their rating. But the meat of the ACC is still to come.

37 teams total with positive C rating (none with negative B rating)

2004 Utah Title: #72 UNLV (2-2), .265, -2895.404, -2909.816

Watch List: #26 Auburn, #27 South Florida (UB), #28 Georgia, #29 South Carolina, #30 TCU, #31 Florida State

Other Positive B Ratings: #32 Mississippi State, #33 Miami, #34 Nebraska, #35 Iowa, #36 Virginia Tech, #37 Wyoming, #38 Central Florida, #39 New Mexico, #41 BYU, #42 Ball State (UB=Unbeaten not on top 25)

Bottom 10: #111 Louisiana-Lafayette, #112 Miami (OH), #113 Louisiana-Monroe, #114 SMU, #115 Rice, #116 San Jose State, #117 Florida International, #118 Temple, #119 Syracuse, #120 Notre Dame

Conference Rating: #1 SEC (2445.843), #2 Big 10 (674.497), #3 Big 12 (237.446), #4 Pac-10 (-296.172), #5 Big East (-1163.446), #6 ACC (-1275.477), #7 Mountain West (-3087.562, leader #30 TCU), #8 WAC (-6775.428), #9 MAC (-7014.195, leader #42 Ball State), #10 C-USA (-7132.373, leader #51 Houston), #11 Sun Belt (-11418.525, leader #90 Troy)

Complete list of teams still to come!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Enter NBC Sports, Exit Yahoo Sports? finally joined the power ranking party, so I will be kicking out the MSNBC/ rankings when I release the new SuperPower Rankings tomorrow.

I'm tempted to kick out the Yahoo rankings as well... on the one hand, they're a duo of rankings, and I have a policy of always having an odd number of rankings, to minimize ties. Their duplicity was the sole reason I included the MSNBC rankings in the first place; the addition of rankings renders them downright superfluous. On the other, I did include the Yahoo rankings for the first few weeks; to get rid of them would quite possibly reduce the reliability of the whole rankings. And they are among the 8 major multi-sports web sites, and according to Alexa rankings, among the top 5 among those 8, unlike upstart

Only one way for me to be sure: a new Da Blog Poll! Scroll down to the new poll and let your voice be heard for the next week. (Unless I get a flurry of votes to start, the Yahoo rankings will be included for the Week 3 Consensus Power Rankings.)