Monday, November 03, 2008


"Sometimes the world looks perfect, nothing to rearrange. Sometimes you just, get a feeling, like you need some kinda change."

Now I could go on and type out the whole theme song to the hit situational comedy Perfect Strangers, and it would be wonderful, but we're not gonna. "Why?" you ask. Well, because those two lines were for what we in the business like to call "setting the stage." You see we are gonna make a change of sorts here at "Bitterness". We here at "Bitterness" did in fact get that feeling like we needed some kind of change. Maybe its having to do with the move to Boston, but it seems like it was even more than a feeling. And while it would be super if this actually had to do with some long lost relative, from a strange unheard of island, having only very basic knowledge of the "wacky" U.S. of A., moving in with me, getting me mixed up in the zaniest of situations, alas, it does not. Now, I know what you're thinking, "Why would you change anything? 'Bitterness' is the cat's pajamas, the bees knees, and other phrases that make no sense but are, in essence, calling you 'awesomeness personified'! Do not deprive us of your wit, your intelligence, your constant pictures of Shirtless Gutenburg! It's bad enough we have no more new episodes of The Critic, Inside Schwartz or the Magic Johnson Show, don't take this away from us too!" To wit, I would reply, "People, people. Breathe. Deep breaths. In the words of Frankie, 'Relax'. Rest assured, we are still gonna give you the quality blogging you've grown to love and then some! Now that we have closed in on the double digit visits per day, we figured it was time to get a little help. So we are introducing our very first "Bitterness" correspondent, Stat Man John! Stat Man John will go where the rest of the "media" is afraid to go. And we're not talking about Rosie O'Donnell's dressing room neither! No, no. Statman John will go inside the numbers and give you obscure stats the "media" doesn't want you to know about! So without any more foofarah, we at "Bitterness" give you Stat Man John!"
Wow, thanks for that, elaborate, and mildly confusing, introduction. Well, as you already know, I am Stat Man John. If you want you can just call me "Stat Man". I have long been a friend of the "Bitterness is a Fish You Can Catch" staff. Which as far as I can tell consists of a writer, editor and a Shirtless Steve Gutenburg picture. So when I was asked to be the official "statistician a go-go" for the site, I jumped at the opportunity. Especially since I know there's a 72.8% that this will be the next big thing in the "blogosphere" As we say in the biz, "I like dem odds!"

Well this week we are gonna take you inside the NFL standings. You see, whilst enjoying Don Banks' Snap Judgments, I cam across this little snippit, "the AFC East has to be the most improved division in football this season." With every team having at least 4 wins and a 5-2 record against the NFC. Now the "Stat Man" is a fan of Donnie Banks and feel he is usually right on the money. But this SJ had us shaking our noggin uttering a "hold on minute there professor. You have fallen into a statistcal bear trap here." You see just looking at a team's record is one of the "Stat Man's" pet peeves. Another is that crust that forms on the top of the squeeze mustard bottle nozzle. Its almost enough to make me go back to the jar! Anyway back to Mr. Banks' statement.

Now calling the AFC East the most improved division seems, at face value, like an opinion. But not if you are a stat man, like myself. Let's debunk the first thing Donnie throws out to back his thesis. "They are 5-2 against the NFC." Well, to be more clear they are 5-2 against the NFC West. The combined record of all four NFC West teams is 11-21. 11-21! That means, for those non-mathemeticians out there they've lost almost twice as much as they've won. Which means, just based on that statistic, that, in theory, most teams have about a 66.7% chance of being better than an NFC West team. Now of course that is absurdly simplistic, but can still illustrate the point. Now factor in the Cardinals who, at 5-3, are the lone NFC West team over the .500 mark. They are responsible for both of the losses the AFC East has incurred to the NFC West. So let's throw the Cardinals right out of the equation. The AFC East then becomes 4-0 against three teams with a combined record of 6-18. hardly somehting that could be an overriding factor in determining "goodness" or "improvement". But wait, there's more!

The AFC East also locks up with the AFC West! The AFC West has only one team at .500 and none over the .500 mark, midway through the season. Now it seems they have not been quite as futile as the NFC West, but their combined record is 10-22, which, believe it or not, is actually a game worse than the NFC West! The AFC East is 7-3 thus far against the AFC West. Which makes them 12-5 against the two worst (record wise anyway) divisions in football! 12-5 against teams that are a combined 21-43! Hardly something to wag a stick at! Now this is not to say there has not been improvement in the AFC East, but "improvement" is not so tangible as to be measured solely by record.

It's pretty apparent that the Dolphins are much improved, even outside of their won-loss record. As are the Jets. I mean record-wise the AFC East is vastly improved. The Jets have already won more games than last year, as have the Dolphins. The Bills, are only slightly improved overall. They were solid last year and if not for a couple of bad breaks, could have been, at least 9-7. This year the Billsies should win at least 3 more games than last season. Whereas the Patriots have already lost 3 more games than last year. But what you have to remember is the AFC East played the NFC East last year. The NFC East had 3 playoff teams and was widely considered to be the best division in football. The AFC East went a combined 5-11 against the NFC East, but remember four of those wins belonged to the Patriots, making the rest of the division 1-11 against the NFC East. So taking four very tough games last year, and replacing them with at the very least 6 very easy games this year is no way to fairly judge this division's improvement. Now as I will point out time and again, record is not the best way to determine how "good" a team is, but is merely a nice little guideline. So which division is the most improved?

Well it would be hard for the NFC East or AFC South to take that coveted title, as they are both coming off strong seasons. As we mentioned the AFC and NFC West are awful, no signs of life or improvement there. The AFC North is down from last year thanks to the Ohio duo. We mentioned the AFC East is improved, but maybe not the most improved. So it comes down to the NFC North or the NFC South. And after crunching the numbers, carrying the ones, its obvious to see that in fact the NFC South, not the AFC East is the most improved division in football!

Thanks "Stat Man" for that in depth analysis and welcome to the family! We look forward to what the "Stat Man" will unearth as time goes on.

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