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Priors Matter

Josh Hancher

As soon as the game clock in the Football Playoff Final hits 00:00, there is a "Way Too Early" ranking available from damn every outlet.  Those rankings are based on that season and looking ahead to what each team might carry over into the next season.  Bettors certainly factor previous seasons into their "priors" and some models factor multiple seasons into their attempts to predict who might win a game or, more importantly, cover a spread.

We are inside 50 days until we get to watch the 2022 seasons, but lets look at the 2021 and see if can see some priors that will tip us off to some teams to watch that might exceed expectations or fall short of them.  I am working a full Power 5 Season preview which will have each team's breakdown of returning production and 2021 metrics.  I am proud of it and I bet it will come in handy as we get ready for the 2022 season.

Let's look at the full power 5 rankings in some of the Dawg Stats Data.Screen Shot 2022-07-16 at 2.16.32 PM.pngScreen Shot 2022-07-16 at 2.16.52 PM.pngScreen Shot 2022-07-16 at 2.17.06 PM.png

So, pretty simple, right?  Green is good, red is bad. Two teams jump out to me pretty quickly.  Let's look at five teams that rank together in Net Yards Per Play:

  • Baylor    1.2
  • Nebraska    1.14
  • Florida    1.12
  • Utah    1.11
  • Tennessee    1.04

Baylor and Utah won their conference while Nebraska went 3-8, and Tennessee and Florida notched just 7 and 6 wins despite all having statistically similar profiles.  Baylor separated itself from the pack with defense with a 37% success rate allowed and 18 PPG allowed.  What can we glean about these teams' 2022 seasons by looking at the 2021 season.  Nebraska lost 7 one score game. Tennessee is bringing back a ton of production and a lot of hype. Baylor has to replace a lot from their Big 12 Championship roster.  Utah and Florida play week one and may set the tone for their seasons.

I have put together a season preview for the Power 5 Teams which bring a picture of the quality of production returning using PFF grades and individual stats, advanced metrics from 2021, as well as traditional yardage stats.  Here is what those look like for these five teams.

The way I have tried to lay this out using a simple heat map where green is higher value and red is lower value.  These are coded relative to their rank in their conference.  The PFF players listed are those with 100 snaps on O Line, on defense, 100 pass attempts, 25 carries, and 20 targets with season grades of 60 or higher.  That grade is the line where PFF sees the player as above replaceable or backup (under 70) or starter quality player 70+.

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Draft Kngs lists Utah as the "best" team among the 5 with a win total of 9. The other four teams all have betting lines of 7 or 7.5 wins.  Florida, Nebraska. and Baylor all  have to replace significant production. Tennessee Utah both bring lot back and 12 and 10  players with PFF Grades of 70+.  My bet is on Tennessee to get to that 8 win mark (they are the lowest net YPP of the 5 and likely to improve).  I see regression from the other 4 teams.


What you got?


Edited by Josh Hancher

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