I like Greg Bedard, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Packer beat writer. I follow him on Twitter, and if you’re a Packer fan, you should too. You will learn a lot.
That said, Greg’s latest column really abuses math, and around the Brewed Sports water cooler we object to that. I don’t have time to go line by line today, but read the part about losing streaks at the end of seasons and then come back. Good?
Greg is trying to make the case that potential playoff teams are better off if they do not bring a long winning streak into the playoffs, and may benefit from a late season loss. His argument is that most teams do not win the Super Bowl with a very long winning streak. Here’s a snippet:
A late-season slip-up also seems to have been of some use. Six of the past seven Super Bowl champions lost in Week 13 or later.
And with the Packers' last loss coming in Week 9, 20 of the past 22 champions (90.9%) lost later than Week 9. And 36 of 43 overall (83.7%).
What do the numbers tell us? That the Packers - or any of those other teams - would increase their Super Bowl-winning odds by dropping one game in the final weeks.
The reason that most Super Bowl champions lost a game in week 9 or later (the entire 2nd half of the season) is that the odds of not losing a game in the second half of the season are very, very low. The number of teams that will suffer a loss in the second half of the season will dwarf the number of undefeated teams, and some of those teams will also be good, therefore, we would expect the vast majority of champions to come from the pool that suffers a loss. It does not follow that you should intentionally drop a game to "improve your odds" of winning it all.
If you are starting from scratch, the odds that you will run off 12 consecutive victories are very low, but if you have 11 consecutive wins, the odds of winning your 12th game are about the same as winning all of your other games (probably somewhere around 50/50, give or take ten percent). And if you happen to lose that game, it won’t change the odds of winning or losing your next game.
There may be some good reasons to drop a game. Resting players is completely defensible. But you will not “buck the odds” by intentionally breaking up a long winning streak.
2 hours ago