Unlike the prediction model we looked at a few weeks ago, there are some economists and analysts out there doing forecasting without the motivation of snatching up your gambling money.
Nate Silver’s website FiveThirtyEight.com is one of those sites and has gained a very positive reputation after correctly predicting how all 50 states would vote in the 2012 presidential election. Though sports prognosticating is a completely different ballgame and much more difficult to predict, Silver’s site takes on the task using what they call ELO ratings. I’ll let them explain:
A simple system that estimates each team’s skill level using only the final scores and locations of each game.
For more nuts and bolts on their methodology, you can ready more here. To be perfectly fair, this system has proven to be just 51 percent accurate in predicting games against the spread. While that sounds pretty awful, it’s just about as good as you can get over a long period of time.
FiveThirtyEight uses these ELO ratings to predict the entire 2016, and it actually looks pretty good for the Detroit Lions. The model predicts the Lions to have a slight winning record (8.4-7.6) with a positive point differential (13.3 points). More importantly, the site gives Detroit a real chance at the postseason, listing their odds at 37 percent — good for the sixth highest percentage in the NFC. They even list the Lions’ chances at a Super Bowl at 2 percent! Yes, we all know the “Dumb and Dumber” quote.
But FiveThirtyEight isn’t the only respected model predicting good things for the Lions this season. Football Outsiders also updated their 2016 DVOA projections on Wednesday and everything’s coming up Lions. Citing mostly the Teddy Bridgewater injury as the noticeable jump from last time’s projections, the Lions are now listed at 40 percent to make the playoffs, giving them the second wild card spot in Football Outsiders’ projections. Interestingly enough, their projected win total (8.3) is almost identical to FiveThirtyEight’s.