Do Stats Lie? - Using Game Flow for Team Defense
When watching a game, we inherently get a feel for the game and how it is going. One team is controlling the game while the other is lucky to still have a shot, yet the score is still oddly even. The statistics my lean one way or another but a fluky turnover here or there can turn the game on its side. A good example of this phenomenon is the Thursday Night Football game between the Panthers and the Saints. The Saints dominated the early portion of the game but two odd turnovers (a ball deflecting off a Saints’ receiver’s hands, and Brees’ own offensive linemen accidentally knocking the ball out of his hand) caused the score to remain 0-0 until late in the second quarter.
It’s anomalies like this that illustrate how important it is to add context to statistics. The problem is that context and game flow will fade as time does, only to be remembered by the few that believe in words, not numbers. For most, the game will only be remembered through a box score and a vat of statistics.
That’s one of the great things about statistics – they’re concrete, everlasting. They won’t change throughout history. The farther a game and box score fades into history, the more the context along with those numbers fade.
However, with today’s statistics and ProFootballFocus’s grades, we can take a look at the context of recent games along with the game flow of each one, we can use these numbers to forecast into the future. We can see facts that lie below the numbers that most don’t see. We can decipher which defenses are the real deal and which are just pretending to be. This gives us valuable insight into fantasy matchups for the rest of the season.