There are few things I enjoy more in sports than when an underrated team beats an overrated team, proving ignorant fans wrong. But there is a huge difference between:
- Saying Cleveland has a 45.6% shot at beating the Yankees based on mathematical analysis of each team's players, and
- Declaring that you're sure the Jaguars will beat the Patriots, simply because they're underrated and the Pats are overrated.
"There are a couple of things I am pretty sure about as the 2007 playoffs approach: the New England Patriots are going to finish the regular season at 16-0 and the Jacksonville Jaguars will beat them if they play in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
Now I am going to tell you why the Jaguars would beat the Patriots in the postseason. The Jaguars are motivated, this team is built for the cold weather, the Patriots defense is overrated and Jaguars QB David Garrard is underrated."
ESPN writers can make as many silly predictions as they want, because no one scrutinizes their work. Besides, who wants an article that simply says the Jags can stay in the game? We demand a definitive statement, dammit!
What exactly makes this team built for cold weather, the fact that they won against Pittsburgh? If one ball had bounced the other way in that game and Jacksonville lost, would that mean they can't deliver in winter temperatures? Are the Jaguars poorly built to win in domes because they're 0-2 indoors this year?
"The third reason is the Patriots' run defense. Can anyone find it lately? Sure, the Patriots are ranked No. 10 against the run in the NFL, but that stat can get thrown out the window because it will be useless against the Jags. The Patriots have such a high ranking because they blow teams out and negate their running game."
At least Jeremy Green seems to understand that teams run because they win, rather than vice versa. But why include this stat at all when it is clearly meaningless? Green could cite the Patriots' DVOA against the run, which shows that on a per-play basis, they're slightly better than the league average.
On the same page, he'd find that the Jaguars are below average against the pass this year, which just might be slightly relevant if they face the best passing offense in history.
If the Jags face New England in the playoffs, they'll probably be at least 4-1 underdogs, and I'll bet their chances of winning will be far closer to the actual moneyline than to what Jeremy Green thinks it should be.