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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Can you predict NFL dogs?

Before this year's National Football League season, I was at a party with a friend who follows football with much more intensity than I do. At one point, I challenged him to name 7 teams who wouldn't make the playoffs this year.

By way of background, there are 32 NFL teams, 12 of whom make the playoffs (38%).

Kirk made eminently reasonable choices, but let's see how they turned out.

Oakland Raiders 5-11
Miami Dolphins 11-5, made playoffs
Atlanta Falcons 11-5, made playoffs
Kansas City Chiefs 2-14
St. Louis Rams 2-14
San Francisco 49ers 7-9
Arizona Cardinals 9-7, made playoffs (and playing for the NFC championship next weekend)

So, 3 of these 7 teams (43%) made the playoffs -- not any different than the base rate. Furthermore, these are in the order he wrote them down. This means 2 of the 3 teams he was most certain wouldn't make the playoffs -- Miami and Atlanta -- did.

So,even a dedicated, knowledgeable fan has trouble doing better than chance. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have done any better, since all his choices seemed reasonable at the time.

Kirk notably missed the Detroit Lions (the first 0-16 team ever).

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