Monday, November 20, 2006

thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are playing at the Ravens this coming Sunday. Looking at their records alone, it would seem the Ravens should be a big favorite. The Ravens are 8-2 and the Steelers are 4-6. But the Ravens are only a 2.5 or 3 point favorite depending on the sportsbook and the adjusted vig on the line. At first glance, one may think this is a case where the Steelers are the public team who still get public support after winning the Super Bowl last year. But I don't think that's the case at all. I think the Steelers, even with their 4-6 record, is just as good of a team as the 8-2 Ravens.

Take yesterday's game against the Browns as an example. Roethlisberger had 3 Interceptions. This is a bad sign. Adding to his big interception total for the year, it may seem that he is a below average QB. However, from what I saw on the highlights, all 3 passes were tipped balls. One was a poor pass, but still a NFL caliber WR or RB should be able to catch the ball. That one was returend for a TD by the Browns. The otehr two INTs were miraculous INTs with the ball bouncing in bizarre ways into the Browns' defenders arms. I view all 3 of those INTs as fluke plays, something that if played again one would not expect. One may look at the stat of 3 INTs and use that as a sign of a bad QB. But after looking at the way they happened, I chalk it up to very bad luck. For some reason it seems stuff like this has been happening to Roethlisberger and the Steelers all year. They were the best 2-6 team a couple weeks ago. Last week, they were the best 3-6 team. Now they are the best 4-6 team.

Looking at other stats, except for turnovers, the steelers look like a very solid team. They rush for 4.3 yards per carry and pass for 7.9 yards per attempt so far this year. On defense, they give up only 3.6 yards per carry and 7.04 yards per pass. So they are outgaining their opponents by 0.7 yards per carry and by 0.86 yards per pass. That is a big margin, and with those stats, one would expect a 7-3 or better team. Obviously it is the turnovers that making them lose. Some of them are stupid passes ... but many are fluke plays too.

So, this is how a 4-6 team can be compared evenly with a 8-2 team. Don't fall into the trap of looking at the record and thinking that a 8-2 team should be far superior to a 4-6 team. The stats show the 4-6 team is really a much better team than their record dictates.

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