Re: What did you think of Belichick's explanation?
posted at 11/16/2009 12:36 PM EST
ZEUS Computer Program Supports Belichick’s Fourth-Down Bid By TONI MONKOVIC
Frank Frigo and Chuck Bower, champion backgammon players and developers of the ZEUS computer program, have huddled with N.F.L. executives over the years, including with Bill Belichick. They can simulate hundreds of thousands of N.F.L. outcomes in seconds, and their program is customizable to account for the strengths and weaknesses of the offensive and defensive units of each team.
Frigo criticized a key Belichick decision last November in a loss at Indianapolis.
This morning, a little over a year later, Frigo said Belichick was being unjustly castigated. He sent this analysis via e-mail:
A very interesting and controversial decision with the Patriots last night. I read the Advanced NFL Stats analysis and concur with Brian Burke’s general framing of the problem and his support of Belichick. Here are three ways ZEUS breaks down the problem. In each scenario, an extended simulation is performed beginning with the exact circumstance on 4th-and-2 and finishing at the conclusion of the game.
Scenario 1: The custom case for the specific offensive and defensive features of the Colts and the Patriots.
Going for it: 77.3% (Probability of Winning for the Patriots)
Scenario 2: The case for two N.F.L. average and equal teams in every offensive and defensive category:
Going for it: 78.6% (Probability of Winning for the Patriots)
Scenario 3: The break-even point on the decision occurs when the team with the ball is about 5 percent weaker than N.F.L. average on offense and 5 percent better than N.F.L. average on defense, while the opposing team is 5 percent better than N.F.L. average on defense and 5 percent worse than average on offense.
The results of Scenarios #1 and #2 clearly point in favor of Belichick’s decision, although not by nearly as wide a margin as we might have expected. Additionally, the analysis in Scenario #3 really cements the case for “going for it.” Applying this benchmark and comparing it with the far different characteristics of the Patriots and the Colts makes the call all the more clear.
Thumbs up to Belichick on a courageous and correct call last night.