Monday, November 17, 2008

NFL thoughts

So the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the San Diego Chargers yesterday in NFL action, and a number of interesting scenarios developed as a result:

- After 12,000+ NFL games, this was the first one to end in a final score of 11-10. Surprising? Perhaps. But given any number of parameters, you can find a scenario in any game that was a first in NFL history. (QB that threw for 350, ran for 6 first downs and had 3 rushers of at least 34 years? It's a first!) The interesting part is the simplicity of the condition. Everyone else seems to be much more excited about this than I am-- and I get excited really easily about statistical oddities too.

- As the clock was winding down, San Diego was playing defense with a 10-8 lead. They had used their time outs; if they so chose, they could have stacked the line, stopped every subsequent run up the middle, and be at the mercy of a very short field goal. That gives them a low probability of success. Conversely, the Chargers-- once they couldn't stop the clock-- could let Pittsburgh score a touchdown, then turn around themselves and march down the field in the remaining time. (An action taken by the Packers at the end of Super Bowl XXXII.) If I remember correctly, this would have left them about a minute and a half to execute the task. Not an easy task, for certain, but neither scenario is favorable-- you need to put yourself in the best situation to win. The decision by the Chargers was the common one-- play defense and try to block the field goal-- but I'm not certain that's your best chance of winning. Then again, Pittsburgh has a solid defense, the weather wasn't great and I still can't understand why people feel Phil Rivers is an NFL level quarterback. Six of one, half dozen of the other I guess.

- San Diego did get the ball back with time for one more play after the Pittsburgh field goal, and elected to go for the Cal/Stanford lateral type play for their last ditch effort. The band stayed off the field, and these types of plays usually result in fumbles. And that's what happened-- and as it turned out, one of the Steelers picked up the fumble and ran it in. So what's the difference between an 11-10 win and a (likely) 18-10 win? When the line is PIT -4.5, quite a bit, actually.

Any idea on the amount of money wagered on this game? It's clearly in the millions; NFL games see a lot of action, and both of these teams are popular on top of that. TPS gambling guru Rob Holub is invited to provide links or general commentary.


Jeremy said...

Supposedly a $64 million swing on the game. That would be a lot of Luttiken's.

rolub said... is getting lots of run for throwing out this $100M, 66% of it on the Steelers. However, by no means does RJ Bell (of the aforementioned website) provide any solid information on how he arrived at that number. It's virtually impossible to wrap your head around how much is being wagered online illegally or on the streets illegally, and that is a much larger number overall than what is being wagered legally in Las Vegas and other international locations that allow legal sports wagering on the NFL.

Plus,'s consensus figures of money wagered has San Diego at 61%. Fact is, it's nearly impossible to really tell how much money exchanged sides at the hands of an inept officiating crew.