Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pregame Ritual and a Prediction

Ite Sarcina Ite!

- Chant first heard at the Roman coliseum meaning "Go Pack Go!"

OK, this is important; don't screw it up. Gather your green-and-gold votive candles (3 minimum). Put on your St. Vincent cappa magna and matching episcopal mitre (don't get carried away and put on your fanon - that's only for the pope so save it for Super Bowl Sunday).

Now, incant the following:

Minutus cantorum,
minutus balorum,
minutus carborata descendum pantorum.*

Eamus, O Viridis Sinus!

Got it? OK, now put all that junk in the closet and forget about it because the Packers won't need any help today to beat the Bears.

Of course, the Packers might lose - after all, this is the National Football League (Why do sports announcers almost always say the league's full name? Do they think we might forget what we're watching?). But all signs point to a Green Bay victory. The Bears have home field advantage and Devin Hester and Julius Peppers. Not enough.

According to Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats, the Packers have a 64% probability of winning (for Bears fans out there, that leaves the Bears with just a 36% chance of winning and that's bad). Read Burke's post on the NYT Fifth Down blog. He explains how he calculates game probabilties here.

 Using the Bodine theorem of gazintas,
Albert Einstein proves Pack will win.
Jeff Sagarin's NFL Ratings on the USA Today make the Packers a two-point favorite even after taking the Bears home-field edge into account. Using a statistical method called Pure Points, Sagarin shows a five point Packers advantage. Sagarin considers Pure Points to be the best predictor of future games (as opposed to purely evaluating what teams have done up to this point).

The wise guys in Las Vegas and Atlantic City made the Packers a three-point favorite. The people who set the initial betting line are the least sentimental people on the planet.

Enough with the numbers. In today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel their outstanding NFL analyst Bob McGinn breaks down the Packers. (You can only read this analysis online if you pay for the Packer Insider.) Most NFL observers reckon that the "vast majority games are won and lost players." McGinn gets NFL scouts and personnel executives to rank players. As one of them put it, "Probably 80% of the guys on teams are's the other 20% that decide games. Simply put, the Packers have more stars than the Bears. Moreover, they have studs at key positions.

The Packers have a far superior offense and a slightly better defense than the Bears. The Bears have much better and very dangerous special teams. Yes, the Bears won the division this year by one game, but the Packers suffered one of the worst injury years in league history. The 'next man' repeatedly stepped up and did the job and now many of the original starters have gotten healthy.

The weather at Soldier Field appears to be cooperating to allow for a fair contest. Cold, but not crazy cold with moderate winds around 9 mph.

The Bears will need a couple really big plays to win. Julius Peppers could blow things up and cause a fumble or INT. Devin Hester, the Bears best weapon, can change the game with one return for a TD or several times with field position changing returns.

The teams familiarity with each other closes the gap a little. To belabor the obvious the Packers are playing at an extremely high level. But because of that familiarity, I'd prefer any other opponent (except at Pittsburgh), But then we wouldn't be having this much fun!

NFL Outsiders analysis reaches the same conclusions and provides a seriously in-depth bunch of stuff.


*A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants. Let's go, Green Bay!

Step right up & get your ready-made more or less accurate Latin translations.

Want to make your own? Try this handy-dandy Latin-to-English translator.

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