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At-the-time strength of schedule

Posted by Doug on July 3, 2006

The Steelers and the Saints had the same strength of schedule last year. The Steelers' opponents' record, after throwing out the games against Pittsburgh itself, was 121-119. The Saints' opponents' record was the same.

But it seems that Pittsburgh's opponents were playing a lot better at the time than New Orleans' were. If you look at each opponent's record in just the two weeks before and the two weeks after they played the team in question, you get a different picture of their strength of schedule.

For instance, here is Pittsburgh's:


1 ten beat bal, lost to stl
2 hou lost to buf, lost to cin
3 nwe beat oak, lost to car, lost to sdg, beat atl
5 sdg beat nyg, beat nwe, beat oak, lost to phi
6 jax lost to den, beat cin, lost to stl
7 cin lost to jax, beat ten, beat gnb, beat bal
8 bal beat cle, lost to chi, lost to cin, lost to jax
9 gnb lost to min, lost to cin, beat atl, lost to min
10 cle lost to hou, beat ten, beat mia, lost to min
11 bal lost to cin, lost to jax, lost to cin, beat hou
12 ind beat hou, beat cin, beat ten, beat jax
13 cin lost to ind, beat bal, beat cle, beat det
14 chi beat tam, beat gnb, beat atl, beat gnb
15 min beat det, beat stl, lost to bal, beat chi
16 cle lost to cin, beat oak, beat bal
17 det lost to cin, beat nor

Here's how you read that mess:

In week 1, Pittsburgh played Tennessee. In the weeks surrounding the Pittsburgh game, Tennessee beat Baltimore and lost to St. Lous. In week 14, Pittsburgh played Chicago. In the surrounding weeks, Chicago beat Tampa, Green Bay, Atlanta, and Green Bay again.

If you tally it all up, you'll find that Pittsburgh's opponents were 32-24 in the two weeks before and after playing the Steelers. Note in particular the last weeks of the season. From week 12 on, Pittsburgh's opponents were beating almost everyone except Pittsburgh (and other teams that Pittsburgh played during that stretch).

New Orleans' opponents, on the other hand, were not doing as well around the time they played the Saints.


1 car beat nwe, lost to mia
2 nyg beat ari, lost to sdg, beat stl
3 min lost to tam, lost to cin, lost to atl
4 buf lost to tam, lost to atl, beat mia, beat nyj
5 gnb lost to tam, lost to car, lost to min
6 atl beat min, lost to nwe, beat nyj
7 stl lost to sea, lost to ind, beat jax
8 mia lost to tam, lost to kan, lost to atl, lost to nwe
9 chi beat bal, beat det, beat sfo, beat car
11 nwe lost to ind, beat mia, lost to kan, beat nyj
12 nyj lost to car, lost to den, lost to nwe, beat oak
13 tam beat atl, lost to chi, beat car, lost to nwe
14 atl beat det, lost to car, lost to chi, lost to tam
15 car beat atl, lost to tam, lost to dal, beat atl
16 det lost to gnb, lost to cin, lost to pit
17 tam lost to nwe, beat atl

When you add it up, Pittsburgh's at-the-time strength of schedule was 32-24 and New Orleans' was 21-33. Even though their overall strengths of schedule were identical, it might be the case that the Steelers were actually playing a tougher slate.

Here is the full list.


TM YR Local Overall Diff
=========================================
sfo 2005 35- 20- 0 126-114- 0 +0.111
nwe 2005 33- 21- 0 124-116- 0 +0.094
pit 2005 32- 24- 0 121-119- 0 +0.067
dal 2005 31- 21- 0 127-113- 0 +0.067
jax 2005 30- 25- 0 115-125- 0 +0.066
nyj 2005 29- 22- 0 123-117- 0 +0.056
buf 2005 28- 24- 0 117-123- 0 +0.051
ind 2005 28- 25- 0 115-125- 0 +0.049
min 2005 29- 26- 0 117-123- 0 +0.040
nyg 2005 31- 26- 0 121-119- 0 +0.040
bal 2005 29- 25- 0 124-116- 0 +0.020
cle 2005 29- 27- 0 120-120- 0 +0.018
kan 2005 29- 26- 0 123-117- 0 +0.015
gnb 2005 28- 25- 0 124-116- 0 +0.012
sea 2005 25- 30- 0 107-133- 0 +0.009
det 2005 27- 27- 0 118-122- 0 +0.008
ten 2005 27- 28- 0 119-121- 0 -0.005
phi 2005 28- 26- 0 126-114- 0 -0.006
sdg 2005 29- 23- 0 136-104- 0 -0.009
den 2005 27- 26- 0 125-115- 0 -0.011
chi 2005 24- 29- 0 112-128- 0 -0.014
oak 2005 28- 27- 0 126-114- 0 -0.016
hou 2005 26- 27- 0 123-117- 0 -0.022
car 2005 23- 30- 0 110-130- 0 -0.024
stl 2005 23- 31- 0 114-126- 0 -0.049
mia 2005 22- 32- 0 110-130- 0 -0.051
was 2005 27- 28- 0 132-108- 0 -0.059
tam 2005 21- 33- 0 110-130- 0 -0.069
cin 2005 22- 32- 0 117-123- 0 -0.080
atl 2005 21- 34- 0 118-122- 0 -0.110
nor 2005 21- 33- 0 121-119- 0 -0.115
ari 2005 20- 33- 0 119-121- 0 -0.118

My original intent in looking into this was to develop a rating system that would use this kind of strength-of-schedule number instead of the full season number. I ran into some technical troubles, but I'll get them sorted out sooner or later.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 3rd, 2006 at 4:11 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.