Paul Bessire of PredictionMachine.com recently ran simulations of the Patriots’ 2010 regular season schedule in an attempt to predict wins, losses, and the score of each game. Bessire is a statistician and sports analyst and he created a simulator called the Predictalator. Here’s how PredictMachine.com explains its methods:
In sports, matchups dictate outcomes. Instead of data mining to attempt to find historical trends that may lend some insight into future games – a common, yet misleading approach for many other predictive models – PredictionMachine.com’s accuracy stems from the Predictalator (a fancy name for the Machine), which plays an upcoming game 50,000 times before it’s actually played. It’s actually played the whole NFL season 50,000 times already.
This is the best way to account for every possible interaction between players (playing or not playing/injured), coaches, officials, fans (homefield advantage), weather and more. Any individual who tries to make a prediction, coaching decision, etc. is attempting to do this type of comparison in his/her head. Without the aid of a “machine,” these comparisons are very difficult to do quickly and without personal, subjective biases. The Predictalator can handle it – and better than any other application available.
So how does the Patriots’ season shake out?
Here is an overview of the season:
Total Wins: 10
Average Points For: 25.7
Average Points Against: 20.2
Place in the Division: 2nd (Jets first)
Playoffs?: The Patriots make it as a Wild Card and defeat the San Diego Chargers Wild Card Weekend 27-24 before losing the following weekend to the Jets 20-17.The Jets go on to defeat the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl 21-17.
Likelihood to Win the Super Bowl: The Pats won the Super Bowl 10.4% of the simulations. The Jets had the highest win % (12.9%).
Most experts have the Patriots winning around 10 games this year, so that seems to be right on. As for the playoffs, I think that most Pats fans would be pleasantly surprised if the Pats made it that far based on what appears to be defensive deficiencies. The big letdown would certainly be losing to the Jets in the playoffs. That would leave a horrible taste in the mouths of Pats fans for the entire offseason. It will be interesting to look back on this at the end of the season and see how accurate the Predictalator was.