NFL Off Interception Rate – Which comes first, the Pickin’ or the Egg?

Week 6 of the NFL Regular Season was brutal on the Football Educator.  If I had invested my life’s savings with a financial firm in “Las Vegas”, I’d probably be looking for a new place to live.  Reading the “tea leaves” wasn’t as lucrative as it’s been the past few weeks in comparing and contrasting some of the top statistics correlating to predictivity of victory in the NFL.

Predictive Equation

I don’t actually crunch out the equation quite yet, but rather do my own personal perusal of the numbers and run them through my own interpretation utilizing injuries, home team, past performance, etc…  But by and large this process has led me directly to the teams coming out on top and then identified the areas as to why they didn’t from week to week.

But this week was different.  Whether luck just eventually ran out or it was the 3 margaritas at Tequila Joe’s, my overall record was nothing to write home (or here) about.  I quickly reviewed the schedule 30 minutes before the first kickoff and tweeted out;

@Ted_Sundquist

#NFLPredictions NE ATL CIN MIA IND PHI KC BUF SF MIN HOU DEN

OUCH!  You can figure it out, but it wasn’t worthy of another night investing in Vegas.  But hey, give me a break, not many prognosticate and then circle back to take the accolades or the grief, and I deserve the grief.  What did jump out was how most of the home teams dominated and how interceptions played true to form.

Offensive Interception Rate

Offensive Interception Rate is the #4 statistical correlation to winning in the National Football League, but its consistency is dead last from week to week, and rates last with Penalty Rate and Defensive Fumble Rate in the equation of predictivity.  Simply put, throwing interceptions will get you beat in a single game, but throwing interceptions in one week doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll throw any more or less the next.  So as you look at teams with high Offensive Interception Rates, you can’t assume they’re doomed against teams with a lower pick percentage.  Color analysts will want to argue the point, but it just doesn’t add up.

I looked at Week 6 and did my evaluations of team vs team statistics and you might think that I’d zero in on those with a propensity to throw the ball to other team (considering my poor record).  But which comes first, the Picken’ or the Egg?  My scientific methodology (just kidding!) selected 6 teams with a higher INT Rate, 5 with a lower.  Yes, all my predicted wins came from within the teams having a higher percentage.  Of the 13 games played before Monday Night Football, 11 winners had a higher Offensive Interception Rate than their opponent entering into the game.  Take that color analysts!

But after the games were played, of the 11 winners who normally threw a higher percentage of picks, 8 threw less, 2 threw equal, and only 1 threw more interceptions than their vanquished opponent.  Go figure.  So the analysts know what they’re talking about after all.

There’s a little truth on both sides.

Statistically you can’t assume that a team that throws a high percentage of interceptions is necessarily going to lose against a team that doesn’t, there’s just not enough consistency to perpetuate the bad habit.  But it’s much more likely that they will lose if they do throw more interceptions than their opponent in a single game; you can’t turn the ball over via the pass and expect to win.  No kidding.  Confused?  So am I.

Maybe I’ll go back to flipping a casino chip to determine the week’s winners and losers.  I might do just as well.