The Math Bowl: Carolina’s Win Against Atlanta
By TONI MONKOVIC
The Atlanta-Carolina game was a mini-mathematics bowl for some in the statistical community.
The visiting Falcons, with an 11-1 record coming in, were a 3.5-point favorite against the 3-9 Panthers. No surprise there.
But two people who contribute regularly to The Fifth Down — Brian Burke and Chase Stuart, who each probably had friends who tried to cheat off them on math tests in high school — had upbeat assessments about the Panthers before the game.
In his weekly game probabilitieson this blog, Burke, of Advanced NFL Stats, listed Carolina with a 62 percent chance to win.
In the comments section, a reader, thinking it was a mistake, wrote: “Atlanta-Carolina must be reversed.” Not so.
Another wrote: “The model must really hate the Falcons.” Not quite; Burke had the Falcons ranked seventh. The model really loves the Panthers, ranking them three spots higher.
Stuart, of FootballPerspective.com, wrote that the 2013 Panthers would be “the lowest-hanging fruit any potential coach has seen in decades,” meaning the best possible landing spot for a coach if Ron Rivera is fired (which he very well may be).
Stuart went on to write:
“Why are the Panthers 3-9? Carolina is currently 0-7 in one-score games.
“Carolina ranks 4th in Brian Burke’s Advanced NFL Stats efficiency ratings. Now maybe they aren’t the 4th best team in the league, but Brian’s system is purely predictive and minimizes events that shape our views but are unlikely to impact future records.
“I’d argue that Carolina is probably the largest sleeping giant” of the last 20 years.
“Whoever coaches the 2013 Panthers will probably win 8 games without breaking a sweat. True, the NFC South will be tough, but the Panthers have a strong nucleus and will have some high draft picks.”
Extra point Carolina won, 30-20, but skepticism is welcome; one correct prediction is a very small sample size, and Burke will be the first to admit that he’s no oracle. But do you agree that Carolina, with the potential of Cam Newton still not fully tapped and with bad luck in close game unlikely to be repeated, has the best upside of any team in 2013?
Edit: If someone already posted this feel free to delete the thread.