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The Hopeful Side of Harsh Criticism

Nate linked to Brian Burke's analysis on season projections down below, but here's the link and here's the conclusion:

This is a notable result because it suggests that Football Outsiders’ predictions are so bad, they are literally worse than having no football knowledge at all. It's like negative information, draining us of insight.

Oof. Brian then invokes Billy Madison, and this scene.

I have a lot of respect for some of the work Football Outsiders does and many of the people that work for Football Outsiders, but it's information like this that made me wary of much of their analysis. Bad information does indeed make someone, if not stupider, more capable of stupid ideas and decisions.

However, I do not think the story here is how inaccurate Football Outsiders' projections are, but rather the still impenetrable world of the NFL and how very difficult it is to predict the NFL season. In Major League Baseball, we can measure the speed and arc of a pitch. We can create similarity scores from over a hundred years of history. Well not we, but smart people that do that sort of thing. Baseball analysts can even determine the raw value of a single versus a double versus a pop fly.

Not only is it difficult to measure the exact value of any one football event, it's impossible to isolate the contributions of one player among the 11.

This is all ground I have covered before, so I will save you the long, philosophical blahblahblah. I do not come here to bury analysis and prognostication but to speak of hope. The hopeful side of Burke's scathing critique is that even with thousands of hours committed from some of the finest football minds, the ultimate outcome of the NFL season is still impossible to predict.

And that means, however marginal, even if I say it's not realistic, even if any rational person without an agenda says it's not realistic, the Seahawks could, maybe, could, maybe maybe maybe, not finish in last place. We still play the Rams, you know?