It’s been hard for me to escape the feeling that something’s off about NFL games this year. But that may be the league’s off-field problems coloring my perception of the on-field play — or the inevitable consequence of living in New York City and having the Jets and Giants force-fed into my living room. Statistically, everything has been pretty normal. Through the first two weeks of the season, the average margin of victory has been 12 points — exactly in line with the historical average. There have been a number of upsets, but not any more or fewer than usually occur early in the year.Week 3 is headlined by a marquee matchup: The Denver Broncos are traveling to Seattle for a Super Bowl rematch against the Seahawks. A less sexy but perhaps equally important game will take place in Glendale, Arizona: the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks and 49ers lost last week, and both play in the NFL’s toughest division, the NFC West. So another loss could be trouble.Let’s go to the magnetic data-storage tape, or rather, to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL Elo ratings. Elo ratings are a “vintage” statistical formula that we’ve brought to life for the NFL. They account for margin of victory, home-field advantage, strength of schedule, prior years’ performance and nothing else — for more on how they work, click here.Last week, we referred to the presence of a “Big Three” in the NFL: the Seahawks, 49ers and Broncos. Those teams remain on top of the Elo ratings, although by a narrower margin. The Niners shed 41 Elo points last week, more than any other team, and the New England Patriots nearly overtook them. Perhaps Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have a vintage year left in them?Any matchup involving the Seahawks, Broncos, 49ers and Patriots would be a good one for the NFL; they are among the more popular teams in the league. The NFL has been fairly lucky over the past several years to have high-profile or big-market teams involved late in the season. But it doesn’t always work out that way. I’m interested in the “Little Four” that lurk just behind the Big Three and rank No. 5 through No. 8 — in order: the Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals. These are good football teams, at least in Elo’s estimation. If you’re rooting for the underdog (and/or bad Super Bowl ratings), perhaps a Large Feline Bowl between the Panthers and Bengals is what you’re after.Below are the projected standings and playoff odds for each NFL team, which are calculated by taking the Elo ratings and simulating the rest of the season thousands of times.Seattle is 71 percent to make the playoffs. That isn’t bad, but it’s a little lower than you might expect for the best team in the league (and down from 81 percent last week). The problem is its division, which also includes the 49ers and the Cardinals; Elo has the Seahawks winning it just 40 percent of the time.The 49ers have still less room for error. Last week’s loss against the Chicago Bears dropped San Francisco to 57 percent to make the postseason, down from 78 percent after Week 1. A loss to a division rival like the Cardinals would probably push the Niners below even money.Other putative playoff contenders have lost twice — most notably, the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts’ probability of making the playoffs is just 40 percent, according to Elo, and they project to an 8-8 record.But the average 0-2 team makes the playoffs only 12 percent of the time. So Colts fans should be thankful. After facing good teams in Weeks 1 and 2, Indy has one of the league’s easiest remaining schedules. You could debate whether the Colts’ AFC South or the NFC East is the league’s worst division (Elo says it’s the AFC South). Indianapolis can be our randomized control trial — it gets to play both! Nine of the Colts’ remaining 14 games are against a team from one of these divisions.Furthermore, the Colts could win the AFC South with a middling record. In our simulations, they made the playoffs 60 percent of the time when they finished 9-7. And they did so a quarter of the time they ended the year at 8-8. Even a 7-9 record was good enough to get Indianapolis into the playoffs 7 percent of the time.For a down-on-its-luck team whose season is already over, look at the Oakland Raiders. They project to just a 3-13 record, according to Elo. And they have less than a 1 percent chance (0.8 percent, if you like decimal places) of making the playoffs.As bad as the Raiders are, those seem like aggressive calls so early in the year. But the Raiders have a tough schedule, with a game against the Patriots this week, two remaining games each against the Broncos and the Chargers, and games against all four NFC West teams. There’s even some chance of a winless season: the Raiders finished at 0-16 in about 6 percent of the Elo simulations. That’s not often, but it’s six times as often as they made the playoffs.Elo ratings can also be used to project point spreads, although we doubt you’d make a profit by betting on them. Last week, Elo had a 8-7 record against the betting lines as listed at Pro-Football-Reference.com, sitting out one game where its spread exactly matched the Vegas line. The Elo point spreads are 16-15 on the season so far against Vegas.This week, Elo has the Seahawks as three-and-a-half-point favorites against the Broncos, compared to four-and-a-half or five points in the Vegas line. That reflects a bigger difference of opinion than you might think; a four-point Broncos loss (as in Seattle 21, Denver 17) is a plausible enough outcome. But to reiterate, we’re not recommending any bets. Among the many factors that Vegas considers but Elo doesn’t is that the Seahawks have historically had a large home-field advantage.There’s a bigger discrepancy in the Cardinals-49ers matchup. Bookmakers have the 49ers favored by a field goal, whereas Elo sees the game as a pick ’em and would bet on the Cardinals if forced to lay down some action. Perhaps you could make a case for the Cardinals, who Elo likes because they finished at 10-6 last year despite a tough schedule and because they’ve beaten a playoff team and won a road game so far this year. But never mind the betting line. In terms of playoff implications, this might be the most important game of the young season.
Best regular-season statistics, among players who declined as little in the playoffs as LeBron James Hakeem Olajuwon1985-0224.4.184+4.5+1.2+.003+0.1 Walt Frazier1968-7520.0.203+3.9-0.1-.010-0.3 Kevin Durant2010-1727.1.253+6.4-3.6-.077-3.0 PLAYERPLAYOFF YRSPERWS/48SPM*PERWS/48SPM* LeBron James2006-1728.6.258+6.9-0.9-.021-0.8 Magic Johnson1980-9623.9.222+5.1-1.0-.014-0.6 Michael Jordan1985-9828.8.275+7.5-0.2-.019-0.6 LeBron James’s postseason legend continues to grow with each passing year. In recent campaigns, the Cleveland Cavaliers star has even appeared to flip a switch in the playoffs and instantly perform at a higher level. Certainly he did last season, elevating his production markedly from the regular season,1His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) jumped from 27.5 during the regular season to 30.0 in the playoffs, and his Win Shares per 48 minutes (WS/48) from 0.241 to 0.274. and he has shown signs of a boost so far this postseason as well.Playoff LeBron — the destiny-fueled superhero sent to the postseason to capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy — is mostly an optical illusion to basketball fans. Over the course of James’s career, he’s pretty much played the same in the playoffs as we’d expect from his regular-season stats. But because James is so good, just maintaining his remarkable regular-season numbers is by itself a feat — and something that many other stars (past and present) have been incapable of doing.To compare a player’s regular season and playoff production, I gathered advanced stats — including Player Efficiency Rating (PER), Win Shares per 48 minutes (WS/48) and a composite “statistical plus/minus” (SPM) that blends the other two metrics together2The resulting metric is adjusted for team and weighted so as to best align with ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, and is also scaled to represent points above/below per 100 possessions. You can read about it more in this story I wrote about Chris Paul’s incredible career stats. — for all NBA and ABA players since 1963.3For accounting purposes, that was the first season for which we know exactly how many minutes a player split between teams if he switched teams mid-season. Then I tracked how much each player improved or declined when he reached the playoffs.4Specifically, I took a career average for each player, weighted in accordance with how many regular-season and playoff minutes he logged each season.The vast majority of NBA players play worse in the postseason, which makes sense given that the playoffs contain the league’s most difficult opponents. The typical player tends to see his PER drop by 1.1 points, his WS/48 by 0.028 points and his SPM by 1.1 points during the playoffs. James is not immune to this dynamic, but he’s managed to resist the drag of the playoffs more than most. Here are the best regular-season players in my sample, along with how their stats changed in the playoffs (through Sunday’s games): REGULAR SEASONCHANGE IN PLAYOFFS Bob Lanier1974-8420.1.179+3.3+0.8-.002-0.1 Wilt Chamberlain1964-7323.9.239+5.8-1.9-.044-1.5 Who maintains their skills in the postseason? (1963-2017) Stephen Curry2013-1726.7.259+6.5-4.1-.074-2.9 Dirk Nowitzki2001-1624.4.224+5.1-0.7-.037-1.4 So, no, James isn’t Hakeem Olajuwon, who somehow managed to play better in the postseason than he did in the regular season. (Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs is adding to his own legend in that department as we speak.) But James’s regular-season numbers are also better than Hakeem’s, or Magic Johnson’s, or basically everyone else in NBA history. Whether it’s the regular season or the playoffs, you can pretty much expect the same LeBron. He’s great all the time.Check out our NBA playoff predictions. David Robinson1990-0325.5.245+6.4-2.4-.047-1.8 Michael Jordan1985-9828.8.275+7.5-0.2-.019-0.6 Magic Johnson1980-9623.9.222+5.1-1.0-.014-0.6 Chris Paul2008-1726.7.272+6.8-0.5-.054-2.0 Average qualifier17.3.144+1.8-1.1-.028-1.1 Rick Barry1967-8021.6.167+3.0+0.1-.013-0.5 Karl Malone1986-0424.4.214+5.1-3.2-.075-2.8 Shaquille O’Neal1994-1127.4.219+5.8-1.3-.035-1.4 PLAYERPLAYOFF YRSPERWS/48SPM*PERWS/48SPM* Charles Barkley1985-9924.3.216+5.1-0.1-.024-1.0 Jerry West1963-7423.5.226+5.0-0.3-.025-0.8 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar1970-8923.4.216+5.0-0.3-.022-0.7 REGULAR SEASONCHANGE IN PLAYOFFS * SPM, or Statistical Plus/Minus, is a mixture of PER and WS/48 that weights each according to how well it correlates with ESPN’s Real/Plus Minus. It is scaled to represent a player’s net points above average per 100 possessions. Data is throughSunday’s games.Source: Basketball-Reference.com LeBron James2006-1728.6.258+6.9-0.9-.021-0.8 Kawhi Leonard2012-1720.2.203+4.3+1.4+.012+0.5 Bill Russell1963-6917.6.179+3.3+0.6-.021-0.4 Tim Duncan1998-1624.4.210+5.3-0.1-.018-0.8 Michael Jordan is always a popular comparison point for King James when it comes to playoff heroics. Jordan did retain more of his output in the playoffs than LeBron has over his career, but MJ is also the exception here — like he is in most basketball-related things. Contemporary stars Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have all experienced far bigger drop-offs in the playoffs than James, as did legends of yesteryear such as Karl Malone and (gasp!) Larry Bird.5I was shocked to see how much Bird’s production dropped during the playoffs over his career, given that he won three championships. All told, James’s regular-season-to-playoffs dip is roughly the same as Tim Duncan’s — pretty good company.James’s ability to maintain his output in the playoffs is even more impressive when you consider that his regular-season numbers are really, really good. It’s easier to display postseason improvement when you are starting with a lower bar. The players who raised their production the most during the playoffs — think Pistons legend Isiah Thomas or ex-Warrior Baron Davis6Amazingly, Davis had the biggest leap in SPM between the regular season and playoffs of any player since 1963! — tend to be moderately good, but not great, regular-season performers. Among players who retained as much of their regular-season selves in the playoffs as James, only Jordan played at a higher level during the regular season: Larry Bird1980-9224.1.212+5.1-2.8-.040-1.7 * SPM, or Statistical Plus/Minus, is a mixture of PER and WS/48 that weights each according to how well it correlates with ESPN’s Real/Plus Minus. It is scaled to represent a player’s net points above average per 100 possessions. Data is throughSunday’s games.Source: Basketball-Reference.com
Kolkata: The state Tourism department has launched an app called “Hurray” on the basis of which it will be rating tour and hotel operators across the state to facilitate domestic and international tourists when they plan to explore Bengal. The app was launched at the fifth edition of the Bengal Global Business Summit on Friday.”The tour operators, the hotel or restaurant operators, guides and transport operators are asked to register themselves with this app. When a customer pays the bill, there will be a five-category rating on which he/she will be giving the feedback. The rating will be uploaded through the app and when we get a volume of such reviews, the properties or hotels with good reviews will be linked to our website. This will help tourists to have an idea of the good properties and hotels and accordingly plan their tour,” said Atri Bhattacharya, Principal Secretary of state Tourism department. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseThe rating will be on the basis of amenities, cleanliness, quality of food for restaurants etc. The app may be downloaded easily through google playstore. According to Bhattacharya, this initiative on the part of the state government is the first-of-its-kind in the country. “We will not force anybody to register themselves with this app. But everybody is well aware that when there is a government rating for any property or restaurant, the customer is convinced of the quality of service it offers,” he added. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataThe state Tourism department has plans to bring on board consulting engineers to bring in properties owned by various departments of the state government under a single template. “The dialogue with various government departments that owns properties across the state has already started,” a senior official of the Tourism department said. The department is also working on formulating standard packages for leisure of high-end tourists. Various tour operators have urged the state government to push for adventure tourism with ropeways being a major component. “Ropeways are very much in our agenda. But in recent times, there has been a number of accidents and even some fatal cases in connection with adventure tourism. We want to ensure foolproof safety of the tourists before pushing for ropeways in the state,” the official said.