Week 14 Observations
Things were going pretty well until the Chiefs-Bills and Cowboys-Eagles. I was 3-0 and 2-0 ATS before that, and I probably shouldn’t have done the “fade-the-narrative” thing so reflexively. It seemed like everyone was sure the Bills would beat the Chiefs, and the Cowboys-Eagles got up to -3.5 which seemed excessive. The moral of the story is no heuristic really works. They’re all crutches we use as weak substitutes for exercising our own judgment.
Heuristics come in handy when we don’t know much about a subject — I was sure glad to use the NFBKC ADP for my basketball draft, for example — but I’ve watched football every week for 45 years. I should have waited for a lean — like I did with the other games — or passed on those contests. To fall back on “everyone’s so sure the tide is turning, I’ll stick with the tide” was lazy. It might feel smart at the time, and it’s fine if it ends up being your post-hoc justification, but it should never be the basis for picking a particular side. That basis should always be your own unclouded judgment.
If it’s unclear what that is, that’s because you probably haven’t used it that often. I think I went about five years without using mine after getting caught up in the midwit stat nonsense. When Tom Brady went back to pass, he wasn’t checking off boxes, using heuristics or probabilistic thinking to decide where to throw. He was seeing the field and using his judgment. You will not cook like Thomas Keller just because someone handed you his recipes.
In any event, I’m annoyed because the other picks (Saints, Broncos, Bears, Rams) were good, and those lazy ones ruined what might have been a strong slate.
. . .
The Chiefs-Bills, it turns out, wasn’t that bad. But for Kadarius Tone Deaf playing in the band, the Chiefs might have covered yet. (There would still have been more than a minute left for Josh Allen, so Buffalo still might have won/covered, but we’ll never know.)
Everyone seems to be destroying Patrick Mahomes for complaining about the offsides call, but they’re being purposely dense. “A rule is a rule, bro.” “Oh, so you only want them to enforce the rule when it benefits you?” Stop.
Everyone knows Toney’s foot being in the neutral zone had absolutely zero effect on the play. That doesn’t mean it was wrong to call a foul because it was a foul, but don’t pretend a non-event like his foot being 12-inches up the field is the same thing as holding or PI. It was a preposterous way to negate an amazing play with the game on the line. It was bullshit. He should be pissed about it. It’s natural he would complain about it.
It’s not going to change anything, the refs won’t be reprimanded for it because they called the violation correctly to the technical letter of the law and Mahomes will have to move on because he has no recourse. Just stop with the fake incomprehension of why Mahomes is so justifiably annoyed. “But rules are rules!”
. . .
I can’t help but poke fun of the “position X doesn’t matter” crowd. What a bunch of midwits.
After another strong game, 38-year old Joe Flacco was named Browns quarterback for the rest of the year. Joshua Dobbs was the GOAT for two weeks, but discovered scoring points against the Raiders isn’t rocket science. Now Jake Browning is playing better than Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes has a meager 7.0 YPA and last pick in the draft Brock Purdy is leading the NFL in every efficiency stat. Quarterbacks don’t matter, I guess.
. . .
The Jaguars went for two after scoring, rather than kicking the PAT and being down three, in the game’s final minute, and people were scratching their heads. If they kick the PAT, they only need a FG to tie (after an onside kick), but by missing the two-point attempt, they needed a second TD.
But let’s game this out. There’s a 50/50 chance they make it, and if so, the FG wins it rather than sending it to OT. So they’re taking the 50/50 chance early (on the try) rather than later (in OT). (If they don’t recover the onside kick, it’s moot anyway.)
The issue is the difficulty of getting the second TD rather than the FG. So let’s split this into the possibilities: (1) Make the try, FG wins; (2) Miss the try, need to get a TD, TD wins; (3) kick the PAT, FG ties. (Again, let’s assume they recover the onside kick and drive at least into field goal range, otherwise this is all moot anyway.)
Scenario (1) happens 50 percent of the time — it’s a win. Scenario (2) happens the other 50 percent. Let’s say there’s a 25 percent chance (with a minute left) you get from field-goal range to the end zone. So you’d have 25 percent of 50 percent (12.5 percent) to win the game on a second TD. All told, you’d have a 62.5 percent chance to win the game (assuming onside kick, FG range and FG made), either by getting the two-point try and winning on a FG, or missing it and winning on a TD, and a 37.5 percent chance you’d recover the kick, down four, get into FG range, but never make it into the end zone and lose.
(And even if you think 25 percent is high for going from FG range to the end zone with a minute left, there is surely *some* chance you do, which pushes it over 50/50.)
If you kick the PAT, you’re settling for a straight-up 50/50 overtime no matter what.
. . .
I argued with Alan Seslowsky that Trent Williams deserves to be MVP just as much as Tyreek Hill or Christian McCaffrey. I mean NFL teams pay left tackles more than skill players for the most part, so the market knows their value. But I’ve changed my mind. Brandon Aubrey should be MVP — a 60, 59, 50 and 45 last night and still hasn’t missed all year!
Toney and Jerry Jeudy (who dropped a perfect deep ball and then couldn’t get his feet in bounds on a would-be TD) have all the physical skills but are missing some key gene. Once you ID these players, they belong on the do-not-draft list. Then again, I used to think that of Evan Engram, and he’s turned the corner somehow. Never say never.
I actually started Engram over Kenneth Walker in the Primetime, and now just need Saquon plus three points to hold up against Tyreek Hill and the Packers defense to make the Primetime playoffs. I’m still a big underdog, but a live one at least. (The overtime punt return TD to end Ravens-Rams really sucked because I had Keaton Mitchell and Justin Tucker going, one or both of whom would very likely had gotten me more points.)
I loved the end-of-game punt, up 3-0, by Vikings FG kicker Greg Joseph to preserve the Raiders cover. It was the right football call too because there was no time for the Raiders to get a FG, and, up six, a TD would beat them anyway. Why not waste more time and pin them back rather than risk a miss?
I was really rooting hard for a 0-0 tie. Heartbreaking not to get it.
The Chargers are the softest. Such an easy ATS win.
I heard some faulty reasoning in the Seattle-SF broadcast. The Seahawks punted on fourth and short from midfield and two plays later the 49ers had the ball right from where the Seahawks had punted. The announcer said this is why you don’t punt because even if you failed on fourth, they’d have the ball here anyway. But the 49ers only had the ball there because they made 40 yards worth of plays after the punt! If they made 40 yards worth of plays after a failed fourth-down try, they’d already have scored another touchdown!
The Falcons had a last-second chance from the Bucs’ 30 yard line to win the game, but Desmond Ridder threw four-yards short of the end zone. Just throw a screen pass if your plan is to run it in.
Mahomes’ valid complaints aside, respect to the Bills for hijacking the shit out of that game. They straight-up terrorized the Chiefs.