Friday, September 07, 2007

The Return of "What are the Chances?"

Today marks the return of The Steelyard's unique method of predicting the results of Steelers' games. Instead of simply predicting win/loss, the score of the upcoming game, or relying on the oddsmakers, The Steelyard estimates the Steelers' chances of winning (on a percentage basis) based on how strongly we feel about the likelihood of victory.

In 2006 The Steelyard proved to be a consistently accurate predictor of the Steelers' fortunes. The Steelers were 1-6 in games in which The Steelyard estimated that the team had a less than 50 percent chance of victory. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh was 7-2 in games in which we gave the Steelers a 50 percent or better chance of winning. (Naturally, one of those two "losses" was the defeat to the 2-14 Oakland Raiders). Essentially, The Steelyard correctly predicted the outcome of 13 of 16 games last year.

The 2007 season figures to be a greater challenge from a prediction standpoint, as we don't yet have a feel for a Mike Tomlin coached team. The Steelyard a lot of confidence in Tomlin, but we don't know how he will fare as a game manager (utilizing timeouts, officiating challenges, etc.), an aspect of the game where, in our opinion, Bill Cowher made very few mistakes.

With little to go on, we estimate that Pittsburgh has a sixty percent chance of defeating the Browns this Sunday. Cleveland's overall talent level is up from last season, but the QB matchup (Ben Roethlisberger v. Charlie Frye) would appear to weigh strongly in the Steelers' favor. It's worth noting that Roethlisberger has played in only one season opener during his three-year tenure, posting a perfect 158.3 passer rating in a 34-7 win over Tennessee in Week One 2005.

On the other hand, history isn't on Pittsburgh's side as no Steelers' coach has ever won his first game at Cleveland. We'll soon find out if Tomlin can buck that trend.

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