Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Aggression to the Mean

Feeling a little angry after the last two weeks’ worth of picking games in the NFL Pigskin Pick’em pool. Can be a heartbreak, that.

After hitting 11 of 16 the first week (and feeling good that hitting two out of three ain’t bad), I slipped to only getting 8 right out of 16 during Week 2. That was a rough week for many, actually, as the overall average of all the people playing in ESPN’s game was only 7 correct picks.

Then during Week 3 I only hit 9 of 16 (below the average of 10), giving me 28 of 48 so far. That’s six behind the current leader in our group and squarely in the middle of the pack, and four behind my earlier stated “two out of three” goal.

Was my first solid week an outlier, and have I now “regressed to the mean” (as they say)? Could be, but mainly slipping back to the middle just makes me feel mean.

Was on the wrong side of some close ones as usually happens, although I did pick Seattle to best Denver on Sunday, a pick that looked pretty iffy once the Broncos made that remarkable last-minute drive to tie the game. But Seattle won the coin flip to start overtime, then drove the length of the field for a winning TD which according to the new OT rules ended things right there.

I joked on Twitter after the game following Peyton Manning’s clutch series of passes to tie the game in regulation that he messed up with his final call of the afternoon. “Peyton really choked at the end, calling tails,” I tweeted, referring to that fateful coin flip.

Some wanted to complain about the new OT rules following that outcome, but I like the rules exactly the way they are. The relative difficulty of scoring a TD with one’s opening drive is significant enough to make it worthy of denying your opponent a possession, I’d say. And I like the pressure that comes with a team either failing to score or only getting a field goal with that opening possession, after which the game does revert to the “sudden death” format.

In fact, that OT format best replicates the back-and-forth that tends to happen during regulation, where in so many cases those final possessions end up deciding games.

Makes the games fun to watch, the way they always seem to get all of the way to the river card (so to speak) with the outcome still in doubt. But tough to predict.

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