Thursday, August 22, 2013

6 comments Mike Klis Says the Key to Winning the Super Bowl is Losing Games

Quick bit of housekeeping for a moment. I have been posting four times a week for a few months now. I am looking for that number to jump back up to five posts per week very soon, but it relies entirely on two things:

1. The amount of material I have to write about. I know, it's weird to think there isn't a plethora of bad journalism out there everyday.

2. Time. This goes hand-in-hand with #1. I haven't had as much time to put up five posts per week over the past few months and I hope to have time soon to push five out. So my hope is to go to five posts per week going into the NFL season, but having time has been a major issue lately, and I hope to have the time to actively search out bad journalism and write about it.

Mike Klis has data (data dammit!) that says if the Broncos expect to win the Super Bowl this year they had better lose at least five games. He has data that says it is best for the Broncos to go 11-5. Most likely the key to winning the Super Bowl would be to not even make the playoffs at all. Then the Broncos would be a surefire winner in the Super Bowl. The more failure the better, right? Sometimes statistics mean something and then other times the conclusion we can draw from statistics is such a dumb conclusion it leads one to believe the statistics may not mean much. I think this is a case where the statistics lead to a conclusion that probably doesn't make a ton of sense, but makes for a good column. That's all that really matters, right?

Here goes. The Broncos will finish 11-5 this season.

Pretty ballsy to make a prediction on the Broncos season record a month before the season is set to begin. But no, Mike Klis has science behind this prediction!

For 11-5 — a record that would mean a No. 3 or worse AFC playoff seed,

Going 11-5 in the AFC would have gotten the Broncos a 4-seed last year, a 4-seed in 2011, a 4/5-seed in 2010, a 3-seed in 2009, a 4-seed in 2008, a 3/4/5-seed in 2007, 5-seed in 2006, a 4/5-seed in 2005, and a 5-seed in 2004. So basically Mike Klis is correct in a way, except the Broncos seem more likely to get the "or worse" part of the AFC seeding by going 11-5. 

a record that assuredly wouldn't qualify for a first-round bye — is the mark of Super Bowl champions.

Are you sure you aren't cherry-picking data? I'm pretty sure this 11-5 record isn't the mark of Super Bowl champions. 

2012: The 10-6 Ravens win the Super Bowl. No 11-5 teams make the Super Bowl. 

2011: The 9-7 Giants win the Super Bowl. There are no 11-5 teams.

2010: The 10-6 Packers win the Super Bowl. No 11-5 teams make the Super Bowl. 

2009: 13-3 Saints win the Super Bowl. No 11-5 teams make the Super Bowl. 

2008: 12-4 Steelers win the Super Bowl. No 11-5 teams make the Super Bowl and the 11-5 Patriots miss the playoffs. 

2007: 10-6 Giants win the Super Bowl. No 11-5 teams make the Super Bowl. 

2006: 12-4 Colts win the Super Bowl. There are no 11-5 teams. 

2005: 11-5 Steelers win the Super Bowl. The 11-5 Bears also make the Super Bowl. 

2004: 14-2 Patriots win the Super Bowl. No 11-5 teams make the Super Bowl. 

2003: 14-2 Patriots win the Super Bowl. The 11-5 Panthers make the Super Bowl. 

So over the last decade the 11-5 record that assuredly is the mark of a Super Bowl champion was good enough to win the Super Bowl once and twice times was good enough to make it to the Super Bowl, but not win. Out of the 23 teams that have gone 11-5 since the 2003 season only three of these teams have advanced to the Super Bowl and only one team has won the Super Bowl. 

So basically Mike Klis is full of shit that an 11-5 record is the mark of a Super Bowl champion. Only 13% of these 11-5 teams have even advanced to the Super Bowl over the last decade. 

I don't know why it doesn't work that way. But overwhelming evidence says that ever since the New England Patriots stopped winning Super Bowls eight years ago, regular-season champs usually become postseason chumps.

Other than the 2006 Colts, 2008 Steelers, and 2009 Saints of course. These teams were all great and went 12-4 or better in the regular season and have won the Super Bowl since 2004, but again, pay no attention to whether the facts given by Mike Klis represent reality. 

The past eight Super Bowl winners have averaged 10.9 victories and a 3.9 playoff seed.

This is an interesting statistic, except when you look at it on the micro-level to see how 11-5 teams have done over the last decade the results don't exactly say if the Broncos go 11-5 they will make the Super Bowl, much less win the Super Bowl. 

The Broncos will go 11-5 in 2013. That will be enough to win the weak AFC West and wind up with the No. 3 or No. 4 playoff seed.

This 11-5 record will obviously determine that the Broncos are going to be extremely successful and win the Super Bowl, just like only one 11-5 team has done over the last decade (and maybe longer than that, but I only went back a decade). 

Over the years, Broncos coaches Mike Shanahan, Josh McDaniels and John Fox have all said it: You want to be playing your best football in December.

No, you don't.
I think this starts an offshoot of the "to tank or not?" argument, but an NFL team also doesn't want to be playing terribly as December starts to end. I'm one of those weird people who would prefer his favorite team try to win every game they play and don't really care when the best or worst part of the year to play poorly may be. 

The Ravens went 1-4 last December. The 2011 Giants entered Christmas Eve in a 1-5 skid. Even the 2009 New Orleans Saints, the only recent top seed to prevail, finished their regular season with a three-game losing streak.

The 2009 New Orleans Saints did play their backups during the last game of the season against Carolina and lost two highly competitive games by a combined 10 points to the 11-5 Cowboys and the 3-13 Buccaneers in overtime. It's not like the Saints were playing bad football in December or really trying to lose. That's my point.

You don't want to play your best football in December. You want to start sandbagging in December.

Of course an NFL team wants to start sandbagging in December. We all know tanking is the best way to ensure a team is healthy and rested enough to win the Super Bowl. 

I don't know if Mike Klis understands what he is suggesting, but he is suggesting the Broncos go 10-1 over their first 11 games (and really, how hard could that be when facing the Ravens, Patriots, Giants,  Cowboys, and Redskins?) and then go 1-4 in December against teams like the Chiefs, Titans, Chargers and Raiders. To be able to truly sandbag in December, the Broncos would have to get off to a 10-1 start and then intentionally lose games in December. I can't fathom how this is a serious suggestion. 

Problem is, it's not going to be easy for the Broncos to lose two more games than they did last season.

Oh whatever shall the Broncos do when their talent helps them to win too many games? Since 1 out of 23 teams over the last decade have won the Super Bowl after going 11-5 it is an absolute necessity the Broncos try to find a way to lose two more games. It's not Raheem Moore's misplay of a Joe Flacco pass or a Peyton Manning interception as he was throwing across his body to the middle of the field that cost the Broncos a chance to win the Super Bowl last year, it was the fact the Broncos won 2 too many games. If they had gone 11-5 then they clearly would have won the Super Bowl in Mike Klis' Imaginationland. 

They went 13-3 even though quarterback Peyton Manning was in his first year with the team and was coming back from a full year of neck surgeries. He's now in his second year with the Broncos and his health no longer is in question.

His health isn't in question, other than the fact he is a year older and still had neck surgeries a few years ago. It's not like Peyton Manning is at the age where his body will no longer feel the effects of injuries and he isn't a cyborg who is incapable of being injured. 

The Broncos were the NFL's second-best scoring unit last season and they added Wes Welker, Louis Vasquez and Montee Ball to the offense this year.

They also still have John "A punt is not a bad play" Fox as their head coach, the same guy who willingly took the ball out of his Hall of Fame quarterback's hands in the fourth quarter so he could take a chance on a coin flip in overtime. I am impressed by the Montee Ball draft pick. As long as all NFL linebackers run a 4.7 40-yard dash then I'm sure he will succeed in the NFL. 

And their schedule is weaker on paper than it was at this time last year.

Well, the Broncos better find a way to lose two more games because we all know the NFL doesn't have parity and a team's strength of schedule on paper prior to the season starting always equals the eventual strength of schedule at the end of the season. 

So how are the Broncos going to lose two more regular-season games this year and avoid a first-round playoff bye?

The absurdity of this column and the idea behind this column can not be overstated. Mike Klis averaged the record of these last 8 Super Bowl winners and then comes to the conclusion the average wins and losses of the last 8 Super Bowl winners is the record the 2013 Broncos should shoot for. Of course Klis ignores the results for 11-5 teams in the playoffs since that time, but I shouldn't be shocked he screws up his use of logic and numbers. It's just ridiculous to think an NFL team should intentionally try to lose games. 

They must somehow lose one division game. Maybe at improved Kansas City on Dec. 1. They can also lose at the Giants and Patriots. That's three.

If the Broncos lose these three games then that means they would go 2-3 in December. Would that be a bad enough record to where the Broncos would struggle enough in December that they could be a good team again in January? 

And if they're lucky, the Broncos will lose another game or two in December.

Right, if they are lucky they will lose these games. If the Broncos are unlucky they will win these games and then get homefield advantage in the playoffs, which is a sure death sentence to their Super Bowl hopes.

It's wrong for the Broncos to call this season Super Bowl or bust. To win the Bowl, a team must survive some bust.

I'm not sure this makes sense. For any team to win the Super Bowl they will have to survive some bust and bad times during a season. I don't know if NFL teams should intentionally try to lose games, but then I don't have the handy data available that shows 11-5 is the perfect record for the Broncos to win the Super Bowl this year...just like the other 4.4% of teams who went 11-5 over the last decade won the Super Bowl.


Snarf said...

I always laugh at articles like this. Many writers do not seem to grasp some simple concepts regarding cause and effect. Team A didn't win the Super Bowl because they were 11-5. They won the Super Bowl and happened to win 11-5 games. That winning record was a reflection of that team being better than many other teams during the regular season, a characteristic that assisted them in defeating teams in the playoffs. This is similar to the quality displayed by 14-2, 10-6, 12-4, etc. teams.

I too would like my team to win as many games as possible. I cannot agree when pundits start asking if College BBall Team X that is 20-0 or something needs to lose a game before the tournament. If they are bounced from the tourney, it will NOT be because they won too many games. There are certain overlapping factors that I can get behind in this discussion, but simply saying lose = good, continuing to win = bad is purely ridiculous IMO.

frank said...

In 2005, the Bears didn't make it to the Super Bowl. They lost to the Panthers 29-21 in the Divisional round. Pittsburgh played Seattle that year. Seattle's record was 13-3.

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, it doesn't make sense to win as many games as possible. It's crazy to win too many games!

Frank, you think I would know that since I'm a Panthers fan and vividly remember that game.

Crazee said...

As a Bears fan, I heard this argument when they were 7-1. And then, they happily finished 3-5 and won the Super Bowl!

Wait, no...they missed the playoffs because they lost one too many games. Oh well. I hope the Bears don't do this again. Go 15-1.

All this statistical noise is just the small sample sizes of one game elimination playoffs in a parity driven league. Sometimes the best teams win, sometimes a team just catches fire in the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to Klis' next column in which he explains the key to not losing in the playoffs is to not make the playoffs at all.

Bengoodfella said...

Crazee, that last sentence about sums it up. Sometimes the best team wins and sometimes the hottest teams wins. There's no formula on how to make the playoffs or win the Super Bowl.

Anon, you can't lose a playoff game if you don't play in one.