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Thursday, 23 July 2015 17:25

Harvard Says Dolphins are Better than Patriots

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Harvard has ranked the Patriots as the second best team in the AFC and on equal ground with the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts, two teams that the Patriots were a combined 3-0 against in 2014. 

                According to a study done by the Harvard School Analysis Collective, the New England Patriots are not the best team in the AFC. They are not even listed as the best team in the AFC East. The method that was used by Kurt Bullard to come up with these results is below.

"The method that I came up with uses Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value statistic, the site’s best measure of trying to tease out individual talent. Then, using ESPN’s NFL depth charts, I aggregated each team’s per game approximate value of what I considered to be the 'core' makeup of an NFL team: QB, RB, 2 WR, TE, Top 2 OL, the Top-4 'Front Seven' defensive players, and the Top-2 players from the secondary."

                This study has the Seattle Seahawks as the NFL team that is most likely to make the playoffs, at 95%. There should not be much argument there. They are a great team that came one yard away from winning the Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers are second at 93%. Green Bay is followed by Miami (77%), Kansas City (66%), and Indianapolis and Denver tied with New England (62%).

                Harvard is full of brilliant minds, that is for sure. However, this study should prove that statistics cannot always tell an accurate story or predict how a game will go. What Bullard failed to take into account was coaching. Coaches in the NFL are quite possibly the most important coach/manager of any of the major sports. How quickly do we forget that Bill Belichick led a team quarterbacked by Matt Cassel to an 11-5 record? Yes, they missed the playoffs; however, they put together a season that nobody could have ever imagined. They are also not weighing the quarterback position as highly as they should. It is the single most important position in sports and Tom Brady is the best in the AFC, arguably the best in the league.

                The AFC East has improved. There is no doubt about that. Ryan Tannehill has another year of experience under his belt, they added Ndamukong Suh, and revamped their receiving corps with Greg Jennings and rookie DeVante Parker. However, Jennings has definitely lost a step and, despite being a first round pick, we still do not know how Parker will adjust to the NFL. The rest of the AFC East has also improved.

                Kansas City added Jeremy Maclin, but still has Alex Smith as their quarterback. While he will not lose you a game, he certainly is not one to win a game singlehandedly.

                Denver’s Peyton Manning has also clearly lost his fastball. While he said he was playing through an injury at the end of the season, he also appeared to be declining before that injury took place. They also lost tight end Julius Thomas.

                Indianapolis added some talent, but it is talent that is getting up there in age. Andre Johnson and Frank Gore have both begun to slow down. Trent Cole is also on the wrong side of 30 and is not a game-changer on defense. To put it nicely, these moves have possibly improved the Colts to the point of not losing by 38 points.

                Yes, the Patriots lost Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in the secondary. They also lost Vince Wilfork on the defensive line and Dan Connolly on the offensive line. Tom Brady is another year older. He, however, unlike Manning, has not shown drastic decline in his game. He can still play at an elite level, something that no other quarterback in the AFC East can claim.

                Nobody knows what will happen in the NFL. On any given Sunday, any team I the NFL can beat any other team. That being said, this study takes that to the extreme. While these Harvard students may have book smarts that I do not have, I have the common sense to know that the Patriots are a better football team, and better coached football team, than both the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. Sorry, Harvard, but you lose a lot of credibility when you come out with a bogus report like this.

Sam Pericolo

Sam is a Patriots writer for CLNS Radio. He is a graduate of Assumption College where he studied History, Marketing, and Political Science and was a Co-Producer on a weekly sports talk television show.

Sam has a baseball knowledge and that compares to that of Tim Kurkjian, football expertise equal to Adam Schefter, along with being very proficient in sports in general. He is an avid sports fan and columnist who brings ideas to the table that sparks the fun-filled sports debate that everybody enjoys and you'll love arguing with him (even though you'll never win one of those arguments). 

Follow Sam on Twitter @SamPericolo

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