Sunday, November 12, 2017

State of Sports

CHIEFS. They started the season 5-0 and there was actually Alex Smith MVP talk. But now they're 6-3 along with the Titans and Jags. The optimist would look at how their schedule eases up after the bye and could see a path to 13-3 or 12-4 and getting a playoff bye. A pessimist could see them dropping more games and ending up 9-7. Still, fun season, fun games.

ILLINI BASKETBALL. The Underwood era kicked off by the Illini scoring 100. Mr. Basketball Mark Smith is actually really good at basketball. He's a freshman. The starting five of Smith, Lucas, Finke, Alstork and Black is really strong. Goals: make the tournament this year. Sweet 16 in 2018-2019. Final Four in 2019-2020.

AVALANCHE. Had a surprising 4-1 start to the season but cooled off. The big news is they finally traded Matt Duchene. Sucks because he's an awesome guy and was my favorite player. They allegedly got a good return but I never think you're going to be better by trading away the best player. What it really means is that they're even more years away from being competitive. Although Duchene didn't prevent them from being the worst in the league last year so I understand trying to rebuild. I don't think the coach is the answer it will probably be 5+ years before this team wins a playoff series. Will Landeskog or MacKinnon ever win a series in Colorado?

ILLINI FOOTBALL. They're bad. Lovie was a great hire, but he's not a miracle worker. They'll get better but it's still a sport dominated by the blue-blood programs. In 10 years, Rutgers, Indiana, Purdue and Illinois will still be bad. ALionEye thinks in the fall of 2019 that Michigan-Illinois will be a big national game, we'll see.

USMNT. And just when you think that there couldn't be a team doing worse than Illinois the 2015 Gold Cup they lose to Jamaica, didn't even make the finals. Since They won the previous Gold Cup there was a special playoff vs Mexico to see who would represent CONCACAF in the 2017 Confederations Cup. USMNT would lose that as well. In 2016, they had a decent showing at the Copa America, finishing 4th. But then the wheels came off and they didn't qualify for the 2018 World Cup. (For what it's worth Mexico finished 4th at the Confederations Cup.)

And my Calcutta roster is strong and fantasy is doing well. I won the fantasy title this year, so it's all gravy from here on out.

Illinois Basketball: Underwood Era Begins

I'm going to start with a little research/analysis.

Illinois actually had some good starts during the Groce era. The best was in 2012-13, when the Illini went 12-0 including winning the Maui invitational and a road win against #10 Gonzaga.

In 2014-15 they started 6-0 and were #1 in scoring through the first couple weeks.

So the question I want answered is: does a good start or non-conference translate to end of the year success?

- - -

(For the rest of this I'm going to use the fall number year for ease of use.)

Groce was coach for 5 years. 2012-2016.

2012 - NCAA 2nd round
2013 - NIT
2014 - NIT
2015 - nothing
2016 - NIT

First of all yikes. But let's see if the starts can tell us anything.

Here's the non-conference schedule:

2012: 13-1
2013: 11-2
2014: 10-3
2015: 8-5
2016: 10-3

So based only on that, yeah it seems like if you have 5 losses, don't make any postseason plans. And if you want to go to the tournament, try not to lose more than one non-conference game.

Let's go deeper to the conference records.

2012: 8-10
2013: 7-11
2014: 9-9
2015: 5-13
2016: 8-10

Surprisingly, this data tells you less than the non-conference data. Looking at that there's no way to think that 2012 was the only NCAA appearance.

So...let's go Underwood! These games actually matter!

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Chiefs-Cowboys: insta-reaction

So here's what this means. The Chiefs are going to be the 3rd seed.

I know, there's another 9 games to be played. Way too early. But I believe this.

The Chiefs will win their division. They will have a better record than the AFC South winner. And looking at the Patriots + Steelers schedules, I think it's going to be hard for the Chiefs to pass them after losing 3 of their last 4.

(I mean it's still possible for the Chiefs to grab the top seed or miss the playoffs entirely, but let's go with this.)

So if it's Pats-Steelers 1-2 in some order, that means the Chiefs don't get a bye. They get a home playoff game but on wild-card weekend against the 6 seed. That could be an annoying game but let's assume they win.

They have to go on the road to Heinz Field or Gillette. That's a loss. Even if they pull off a miracle, they have to go to the top seed on the road the week after.

So yeah, this Chiefs team isn't winning the Super Bowl. The path to winning was getting a bye and getting only one of the Patriots/Steelers AND facing them at home. That's out the window.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Doing the Math

Having just introduced my Point Differential in Losses metric, I thought it would be worthwhile to test it out.

I'm going to compare it to wins and standard point differential over the last three games of the year for the last three years, to see which metric is a better predictor in the playoffs. For each game, I'll state if the particular metric correctly predicted the winner.

Pittsburgh vs New England
Wins: yes
PD: yes
PDwL: yes

Green Bay vs Atlanta
Wins: yes
PD: yes
PDwL: yes

Atlanta vs New England
Wins: yes
PD: yes
PDwL: no

(Editor's Note: so my metric looks a lot cooler if Atlanta doesn't blow a 28-3 lead, just saying. Pretty interesting that the Falcons in 5 losses had less PDwL than the Patriots did in two.)


New England vs Denver
Wins: N/A tied
PD: no
PDwL: N/A tied

Carolina vs Arizona
Wins: yes
PD: yes
PDwL: yes

Carolina vs Denver
Wins: no
PD: no
PDwL: no

New England vs Indianapolis
Wins: yes
PD: yes
PDwL: yes

Green Bay vs Seattle
Wins: N/A tied
PD: yes
PDwL: yes

New England vs Seattle
Wins: N/A tied
PD: yes
PDwL: no

(Editor's Note: Goddamnit. The Patriots win 2 Super Bowls in three years that they shouldn't have and it ruins my metric. Fuck.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Advanced NFL Metrics

I came up with a new stat: Point Differential in Losses. It rewards wins and close losses, punishes big losses. You don't get credit for blowing out bad teams, but it does punish the bad teams. Take the recent game where the Ravens beat the Dolphins by 40. The Ravens aren't that good (before that game they had a -18 point differential). So instead of acting like they're really a +22 team now, let's just punish the Dolphins for being shitty.

There is one caveat, if you've only played 7 games, you're at an advantage to a team that's played 8 games. So I'll put an asterisk by the 7 game teams. If you see an asterisk, you probably want to mentally move them down a slot or two.

Here's the current standings (after week 8).

Eagles 7
Chiefs 7
Bills 10*
Rams 13*
Seahawks 14*
Patriots 18
Lions 23*
Vikings 24

Falcons 25*
Saints 26*
Steelers 27
Chargers 29
Packers 33*
Jaguars 34*
Cowboys 34*
Texans 36*

Panthers 40
Bengals 43*
Bucs 44*
Washington 46*
Jets 49
Broncos 54*
Raiders 57
Giants 57*

Titans 59*
Bears 60
Ravens 65
Dolphins 74*
Cardinals 81*
Browns 83
49ers 86
Colts 110

Booking the NFL Championship Games

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Seahawks at Eagles

Patriots at Chiefs

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Chiefs Spook Broncos on MNF: I Was There

Before the season if you had to pick one game to go to, it would be Broncos on Monday Night Football. Because of the way the season has gone, it became the most important game of the year so far--division race up for grabs, homefield race in the balance, divisional rival, primetime, all of it.

On Friday, I find out I'm getting tickets.

- - -

Quick aside, the tickets included access to a VIP Tailgate. Ryan and I show up and they're serving beef lasagna. So in case you're wondering, that's how VIPs roll.

Due to the beef lasagna and the ridiculous parking line and the ridiculous line to get in (note to self: only go in a express line at the gate) we were running through the concourse and entered section 108 at exactly the first play from scrimmage. It was actually amazing to be running down the steps and hear the crowd ramped the fuck up just as we see the field for the first time.

The game opened with two punts and then it was Jamaal Charles time. First play for him he gets past the line of scrimmage and there's only one man to beat. Ron Parker tackles him by the shoestrings and saves a touchdown. Game of inches man. Could have been 7-0 Broncos very easily. Instead, two plays later Marcus Peters strips Charles, recovers the fumble and returns it to the house. One man play right there. 7-0 Chiefs.

Three minutes later the Chiefs score again. They force a 3 and out and go 68 yards, including a big TD pass to Kelce. It's 14-0 with 6 minutes to go in the first quarter. Arrowhead is rocking. Both Chiefs touchdowns happened in the corner right in front of me.

Very Next Play. Interception. Peters with another big play. Chiefs have 1st and goal from the 9, just 11 minutes into the game. I said out loud, "got to cash this in." And the Chiefs decide to go for a trick play, Tyreek Hill throwing it to Ross Travis. Tyreek Hill now has more interceptions this season than Alex Smith. (1-0.)

Not only do the Chiefs squander a scoring opportunity, but this gives the Broncos momentum as they respond with the best drive of their game. They go down the field and have 1st and goal at the 9. It's only 14-0 with lots of time left...but Justin Houston comes through with a Big Mac Sack and ensures the Broncos settle for a field goal. 14-3.

Chiefs have another nice drive but settle for a field goal. 17-3. The teams would trade turnovers but that's the score at the half.

The entire rest of the game, I'm still thinking about that stupid trick play.

The Broncos would find some signs of life in the 3rd quarter and scored a TD to cut the Chiefs lead to 20-13 headed into the 4th quarter.

In the 4th, the Chiefs had a 43 yard field goal. It's a chill night with lots of swirling wind and it seemed like kickoffs had been short all night. Make it and it's a 10-point lead. Miss it and the Broncos have good field position to drive and tie the game. Harrison Butker makes it. (He now has a streak of 18-straight field goals after missing his first NFL field goal.)

With 10 minutes to go, it's 4th and 4 for the Broncos at their 48. They're going for it. I'm a little surprised with a full 10 minutes left, but here we are. They're pushing their chips in the middle. And the Chiefs shut it down.

Goddamn that felt great.

The Chiefs would add two more field goals and the Broncos would get a garbage time TD but it was never close after that. Final 29-19.

With a team like the Broncos, it was very nice to not leave any doubt about who played better. There was no whining about calls or anything they could say. The Chiefs took the lead on the Charles/Peters scoop and score and never looked back.

Here's a nice image to sum up the Broncos performance.

Surprisingly that was not after one of the Broncos 5 turnovers.

Here are pictures of the two Chiefs touchdowns.

And last but not least, I get to cross off the Broncos!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

History of Attending Chiefs Games

Childhood Era
11.4.1990: 9-7 win vs. L.A. Raiders (Bo Jackson)
10.11.1992: 24-17 win vs Eagles (Cunningham)

Coming off a 13-3 season, I bought a pair of tickets through ticketmaster in the offseason. The Chiefs started 0-3 and by the time we were going to the game, the Chiefs were 3-7. Our seats were section 343, row 10 and they were $73 each. That game featured Brees, Tomlinson, Gates, Trent Green, Larry Johnson, Gonzalez. Plus a kickoff TD return by Dante Hall, and another that should have been. Although Priest Holmes was injured earlier in the year, and I didn't get to see him play.

11.24.04: loss vs Chargers, 31-34

The following year was our first year in Chicago. We made plans to spend New Year's in Kansas City and see the Chiefs finish the season on New Year's Day. The Chiefs were 4-2 at the time we purchased the tickets. I got the tickets through ebay, section 301, row 5, $70 each. This was Vermeil's last game. It was a good season. The Bengals didn't try much and it was a blowout win. The Chiefs finished 10-6 but didn't make the playoffs. The Steelers finished 10-6, got the wild-card spot on tiebreakers, and won the Super Bowl.

1.1.06: win vs Bengals, 37-3

In August, I found a great deal on lower bowl seats through a private seller. Section 122, row 10 for $90 each. Trent Green was traded, so Damon Huard was the starter. Bowe was a rookie. The Chiefs were 2-2 coming into the game, but 1-0 at home. They would lose this game, win the next two to get to 4-3, before finishing 4-12. MJD had a 52-yard TD run and it was 17-0 Jaguars, before Croyle came in for a garbage time TD in the rain. Here's the post.

10.7.07: loss vs Jaguars, 7-17

The Chiefs are 3-0, which means the wife is on the bandwagon! We just got tickets through Ticket Exchange, section 301, row 28, $64 each, to see the Chiefs host the Cardinals on the day before my birthday. Not only do the Cardinals seem quite beatable on the road, but you have to think that Haley will have extra incentive and know how to beat his old team. Here's the post.

11.21.10: win vs Cardinals, 31-13


We got two tickets through Crowd Seats, Section 324, Row 28, $48 each. It was part of a 24-hour trip. Here's the post.

10.26.14: win vs Rams, 34-7


First time I went to a game by myself. First night game! First time seeing the Raiders since 1990. I paid $74 on StubHub for Section 324, Row 28, Seat 5. And I froze my ass off--zero degrees. Here's the post from the game.

12.8.16: win vs Raiders, 21-13


I got a free ticket through work. First MNF game! First game against the Broncos! Section 108, Row 27, Seat 6. Here's the post from the game.

10.30.16: win vs Broncos, 29-19

Current Record of All-Time Games In Person: 7-2

I really prefer sitting between the 30s than in the corner or endzone. Sitting in the upper deck is fine but I'd rather be in the first 20 rows.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Wide Open NFL

So here's something. On the NFL opening night, the Chiefs beat the Patriots. The Chiefs also started 5-0. That's good!

And yet, since opening night, the Chiefs have gone 4-2. The Patriots have gone 5-1.

The Steelers barely squeaked by the Browns and lost to the Bears and Jaguars. And yet they're 5-2 also.

The Chiefs loss to the Steelers was not surprising. The loss to the Raiders really wasn't that surprising either because the Raiders are supposed to be good and divisional games on the road, especially on a short week, should never be considered a gimme. (These days, no game is a gimme, so nothing should surprise us.)

But when you look at those three teams tied at 5-2, it doesn't matter what's surprising, it only matters what's in the win column. The bye is huge. And while playing at Arrowhead doesn't even get close to guaranteeing a win, having to go to Heinz or Gillette in January is an absolute disaster. The Chiefs do hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots and that's still what you'd rather have, but the Steelers hold it over the Chiefs. Pittsburgh and New England will play each other on December 17 at the Steelers.

You look at the Steelers schedule and not a lot of tough opponents. Packers minus Rodgers. Colts, Titans, Bengals, Ravens, Browns. Their toughest game in the next 6 is going on the road to Detroit.

So here I am. I really really need the Lions to beat the Steelers. Of course, most of all, I need the Chiefs to win their next game...

Let's see, what's that going to be...

Oh nothing really, just a Monday Night Football game at Arrowhead against the 2nd best team in the division, the team I hate the most. A primetime nationally televised home game the night before Halloween. Where if the Chiefs lose, they lose all the momentum in the division. But if they win, they'd have a huge divisional lead. Oh man. That's the thing about winning big games. The more you win, the bigger the games get. Opening night was a big win and it just makes this game even bigger.

- - -

Oh and the Packers, Panthers and Falcons all look like shit. The Vikes are #2 in the NFC and they don't have a QB. The Seahawks have struggled. So the best teams are the Eagles with Wentz and the Rams with Goff...This really does feel like the NFL is as wide open as it's ever been.

For a team with Alex Smith or Matthew Stafford, you only get so many chances where the Bradys and Rodgers of the worlds aren't dominating. Gotta make them count.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Only two teams with one loss. Chiefs and Eagles. They already played each other. Could play each other again in the Andy Reid Super Bowl. 

Who Owns The Strip?

There are 27 major resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. So many choices, right?

Sure. But 19 out of 27 are owned by just 2 companies. Here's a breakdown of who owns what resorts.

MGM Resorts
MGM Grand
Circus Circus
Mandalay Bay
Monte Carlo
New York New York

Caesars Entertainment
Caesars Palace
Planet Hollywood

Wynn Resorts

Las Vegas Sands Inc

The Blackstone Group

Phil Ruffin
Treasure Island

American Casino & Entertainment

Penn National Gaming

- - -

Here are the 27 resorts, ranked by number of Hotel Rooms, labeled if part of one of the two conglomerations.

MGM Grand - MGM Resorts
Luxor - MGM Resorts
Excalibur - MGM Resorts
Aria - MGM Resorts
Bellagio - MGM Resorts
Circus Circus - MGM Resorts
Flamingo - Caesars Entertainment
Caesars Palace - Caesars Entertainment
Mandalay Bay - MGM Resorts
Mirage - MGM Resorts
Monte Carlo - MGM Resorts
Paris - Caesars Entertainment
Treasure Island
Bally's - Caesars Entertainment
Harrah's - Caesars Entertainment
Linq - Caesars Entertainment
Planet Hollywood - Caesars Entertainment
New York New York - MGM Resorts
Vdara - MGM Resorts
Delano - MGM Resorts

- - -

So the answer is...MGM Resorts owns the Strip.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Quest for Homefield

I have to start this post by acknowledging that the Chiefs were the #2 seed in the AFC last year and had a home game against the Steelers and lost. So you could look at that and conclude playing at home isn't a big deal. Well, for starters, that was a 2-point game that ended with the Chiefs completing a 2-point conversion, only to see it called back to a holding penalty. And more convincingly, the Patriots were the #1 seed and got to face their Houston Texans with Brock Osweiler. So yeah, getting the #1 seed and homefield matters. For the last four years, the #4 seed has been from the AFC South.

(This year, anything could happen. The Patriots and Steelers and Jags are all 3-2. It's entirely possible that the Chiefs could earn the coveted #1 seed and the Pats or Steelers could be #4. But for the sake of discussion, let's assume that #1 is still clearly the best possible outcome as you are ensured you won't play on the road and you get the opponents with the worst record.)

In the race for homefield, the Chiefs are 2.5 games ahead of the Patriots after 5 weeks. I say this because KC beat NE and therefore has a tiebreaker. That's huge.

If the Chiefs beat the Steelers this week, they will be 3.5 games ahead of the Steelers.
If they lose... only half a game ahead. (5-1 vs 4-2 with the tiebreaker edge).

Since this game is worth 1.5 games in the homefield standings, it's a 3-game swing.

So yep, big game. And it happens to be at Arrowhead. Chiefs are favored by 4.

Garbage Time

I drafted Kirk Cousins to be my every week fantasy starter. During the draft, I wanted a backup for injury that could be a starter, but also someone that I knew I would play in week 5, when Cousins is on bye. I saw Big Ben had the Jaguars at home and thought this was perfect.

Who knew that Jaguars would turn out to be an elite pass D after four weeks? I was tempted to stick with Big Ben despite his struggles because of the whole thing where he's a lot better at home than on the road...but then Deshaun Watson emerged as a real fantasy star. So I grabbed him with on the waiver wire as my first priority.

I figured Chiefs are decent against the pass but struggle against the run and give up lots of yards no matter what. So a running QB would give them fits, he could get 10 points just in rushing. So I plugged in Watson.

Big Ben vs Jaguars: 2 points
Watson vs Chiefs: 45 points

The Chiefs-Texans game was basically over at 39-20 with 7 minutes to go, but Watson managed to get me two more touchdowns in the final 3 minutes to win me $15.

I also appreciate Fournette's 90-yard touchdown run over the Steelers in garbage time. Garbage time is amazing.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Did Cleveland Peak Too Early?

I heard something on Against All Odds, that didn't seem quite right to me.

In September, Cleveland went on a 22-game winning streak. A Yankees fan on the podcast said Cleveland peaked too early. Me, being of sound mind and body, thought that winning 22 games in September is a good sign for winning say 12 out of 21 games in October.

So here we are. Cleveland vs New York.

My theory is Cleveland should win.
His theory is New York should win.

Let's see what happens.

Edit: Damnit, Cleveland peaked too early.