The New York Giants may not be the luckiest team in the NFL anymore, so says one highly-regarded statistical analysis that credits the team’s defensive play in recent weeks for improved form. The Giants, 11-5 this year, were 8-2 to close out the season.
Utilizing a new metric called ‘Expected Points’ (an algorithm that utilizes box score analysis to create predictions for points scored and team win percentage), PredictionMachine.com and their ‘Predictalator’ develop predictions for all NFL games. What ‘Expected Points’ found out is that the Giants are no longer the luckiest team in the NFL.
They’re just winning based on simply being and getting better.
“The Giants finished this season outscoring their opponents by 1.6 points on average,” said Rob Pizzola, general manager of PredictionMachine.com. “Per’ Expected Points,’ their expectation would have been flipped and should have been outscored themselves by 1.5 points. That margin would have finished twenty-third in the NFL in our expected margin of victory.”
Instead, the Giants have been rolling.
Pizzola said that over the last three seasons, the Giants have actually been the luckiest team in the NFL in terms of outperforming ‘Expected Points.’ In recent weeks, the improved play of their defense has them on a roll with big wins against the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins in their final four games.
Since ‘Expected Points’ is regression analysis, looking back to previous weeks to gauge points scored predictions for a future week, certain mitigating factors might be left out. In the case of the Giants this year, the team was hit hard by injuries during the first six weeks of the season, in particular on the defensive side of the ball.
Now the final stretch run has a more accurate picture of the team’s improved play, especially on defense.
“Thus, the current state of teams may not be considered. For example, the Giants had quite a few injuries in their secondary to start the season. If we simply start at Week 7, the Giants have an ‘Expected Points’ against of just 19.5 points per game. Since Week 10, that number goes down to 18.3 average points against,” Pizzola said. “Using arbitrary end points is typically a bad method; however, with the injuries the Giants endured and their last few weeks being a much better reflection of their current team, it may be a useful study. If we remove the first six weeks of the season where they were injury-plagued, the Giants jump all the way up to eleventh in ‘Expected Points’ win percentage at56.3 percent. This seems to be a much better reflection of their current team.”