In going with the theme of yesterday's quarter-season NFL awards, the space between Week 4 and Week 5 represents the first good opportunity to take some measure of the numbers that teams are putting up and the ways they're doing so. In some cases, teams that are off to hot (or cool) starts have had their performance driven by some totally unsustainable effort in a meaningful category over a very small sample, which would suggest that they'll regress toward the mean (I'm saying it less this year, I swear!) over the remainder of the season. Others might be succeeding without those fluky boons, which makes it even scarier to think how they might perform once the breaks start going their way.
With all that in mind, let's take a run through some of the key splits and measures of performance through Week 4 and identify some of the standout organizations. Many of these figures come courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information and/or the Elias Sports Bureau. Now, let's start with an old favorite
Heading into last night's Game 1 against the Miami Heat, the San Antonio Spurs had exactly nine days of rest, something that became somethingofastory line in the days that followed. The Heat ended their series Monday and had a three-day turnaround, a fairly less-than-normal amount of time to have between two playoff games.
After the Spurs’ close win last night, I started to wonder how much exactly this tidbit of information mattered. Did the Spurs’ extra days of rest give the team more strength to power through against the very physical and aggressive Miami team? Or did their extra days of rest leave them drained, rusty, and slightly underprepared for the tough matchup?
If Brian Kenny has a tell, it’s his eyebrows. Flip over to MLB Network — where Kenny is a studio host, talking head, and defender of sabermetricians — and you’ll see his eyebrows shoot up until they form twin quotation marks on his forehead. This means Kenny is about to blow his top. Like Fox News's Shep Smith or ex-CNNer Jack Cafferty, Kenny is a guy you can count on to get angry when the world stops making sense. Watching him stew is just about the most wonderful thing on sports TV.
It was the year a man became very famous for possessing an unshakable belief in math and basic reasoning skills. This probably says less about Nate Silver and more about the small armies of Silver skeptics, gut-driven intuitionists uninterested in parsing the differences between probability and prediction, correlation and causation. But in the weeks leading up to election night, Silver cemented his role as our all-seeing eye. His name and fine-tuned, closely guarded formulas became an instant salve anytime someone started freaking out: “Nate Silver says ” Between his bestseller, The Signal and the Noise, and near-flawless election predictions, nobody had a better year reputation-wise than Silver.