FIRE JOE MORGAN: The Wisdom of Crowds, Part II


Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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Thursday, February 09, 2006


The Wisdom of Crowds, Part II

An update on a very old post. Another football post. Apologies.

Before the 2005-2006 NFL season,'s NFL experts predicted how many wins each team would get. How did they do?

Well, they were off by a total of 94 wins. That's 2.93 wins per NFL team. If that doesn't sound that bad, ask yourself this question: "How good is an 8-8 team, versus an 11-5 team?" That's the average amount of wrong, if you will, that's experts were good for.

In fact, here's a better way of looking at it: Let's say I'm the world's worst prognosticator. I have no idea how good any NFL team is before the season starts. What would be the best way for me to pick the over under on each team's number of wins? Well, I'd have no choice but to pick each team to go 8-8. Remember: I'm dumb, I hate football, and for all I know the Colts are as good as the Texans. But I'm just trying to avoid being way off here.

So, how would's experts have done against the world's worst football expert? They would have beat 2 wins. Total.

Picking every team to go 8-8 would have missed the mark by a total of 96 wins, compared to 94 for the collective efforts of Clayton, Pasquarelli, and whoever the hell else got in on this garbage pile. In other words, on average, their experts were .07 wins better at predicting your favorite team's final record than a baby. Or, I guess, a baby who knows nothing about football but a tiny bit about math. Maybe I mean a six-year-old.

They were bad, is the point.

posted by dak  # 6:38 PM
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