Interesting item I stumbled upon from ESPN.com's sports gambling blogger Chad Millman about strength of schedule.
Millman talked to a Vegas wiseguy who goes by the (tremendous) name of 'Teddy Covers' about the conventional way strength of schedule is generally calculated. You know how it happens. Weekly schedules are announced, and immediately a list is out with which team has the easiest schedule and which team has the toughest schedule. The numbers are based on records from the previous year.
For example, Eagles opponents in 2010 had a .520 winning percentage in 2009. That number, compared league-wide, gives the Birds the ninth-toughest schedule in the league. The Cowboys (.543), Giants (.527) and Redskins (.523) all have more difficult schedules, based on this metric.
But does it really make sense? Not really. Just because a team won 10 games in 2009 doesn't mean we should mark it down for 10 this season. Things change - coaching moves, free agency, the draft, injuries.
So the question becomes: What numbers should we use instead?
That's where the article comes in. Note that it's an ESPN Insider piece so if you are not a subscriber, you won't be able to read the whole thing.
But the gist is that we should use projected win totals from Vegas instead of win totals from the previous year when determining strength of schedule:
Why trust the future expectations dictated by Vegas rather than the square math based on last season's records? "Because the lines Vegas puts out are usually pretty good. Bookmakers tend to make money out here." This is what I love most about wise guys: They are unapologetically confident in their view of the sports world and completely eschew conventional wisdom. That is how they end up cashing in. And the rest of us just write (or read) about it.
Based on projected win totals for 2010, guess which team has the toughest schedule in the NFL? That's right. Your Philadelphia Eagles. The projected winning percentage Vegas has down for the Birds' opponents is .531, as opposed to the .520 that's based on 2009 records. The Cowboys are sixth (.517); the Giants ninth (.512); and the Redskins 13th (.509).
So what do you think? Which strength of schedule makes more sense? I would venture to guess that if we looked at records at the end of the season, Vegas' projected win totals would be closer. I'd be curious to see how Vegas' numbers compare to Football Outsiders' numbers for projected win totals. We'll save that one for a rainy day though.
SAM AND WILMA
I'm late on this one, but in case you missed it, there was a long feature in The Washington Post recently about Sam and Wilma McNabb. A snippet:
Just a day after their son, Donovan McNabb, was traded to the Washington Redskins, Wilma hopped online and ordered new jerseys that featured burgundy and gold. Four months later, though, there still are remnants of McNabb's 11-year run as the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback lying around. The license plate holder on Wilma's sport-utility vehicle is still green, for example. The McNabbs have tried to clear most of the Eagles' knickknacks and photographs from their closets, shelves and walls, but it's not that easy.
And earlier, I rounded up my practice observations, with a focus on Brandon Graham and the rookies.
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