Luck and Skill

Like just about everything else, football is a game that combines intuition, skill and luck.  There are a lot of things that are repeatable and therefore predictable.  Equally, there are a lot of things that are just dumb luck.

Things that are predictable?

Offensive Passing Efficiency.

Things that are Dumb Luck?

Defensive Interceptions.

And one other very important thing that is often just dumb luck.


Games are played and not just “assigned”.  You have to actually go play and see who wins.  That’s the beauty of sport.

But that doesn’t change the science of modeling and statistics.

It turns out that there are very good models at predicting win loss results.  Comparing those win loss results to real life displays luck; good and bad.

Wanna see the luckiest Team in the NFL?  Wanna see the UNluckiest team in the NFL.

Here it is:

The unluckiest team is posted at the top.  At 0-5, the San Francisco 49’ers are the NFL’s unluckiest team so far with the Chargers right behind.

My beloved Vikings are the 6th unluckiest, just behind Dallas.  Who, by the way, I mentioned should have beaten the boys in purple.

The 3 teams that are the luckiest?

Falcons, Cardinals and the Jets.

Fascinating stuff.

2 responses to “Luck and Skill

    • Certain things in football are more a function of luck than skill. For example, third down conversion rates are predicted by passing efficiency, not running efficiency.

      And special teams TDs are luck, not skill based. So when a team gets lucky and has several things fall in their favor, their record will be better than it should. Like Atlantas.

      And whe teams are unlucky their record will be worse. Like ours.


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