Welcome to the Conference Championship edition of Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron’s weekly NFL power rankings. To help us make sense of what happened during this last batch of NFL action, we’ve asked former astronaut and current CEO of the Sigma Chi Foundation, Gregory Harbaugh, to share his thoughts with us below. Please enjoy.
Well, isn’t this POSITIVELY DELIGHTFUL? What an uplifting story to warm the COCKLES OF THE NATION’S COLLECTIVE HEART. Have you heard the great news, everybody? Have you heard it? The coaches of the two teams in the Super Bowl this year are BROTHERS. As in, they came from the same womb. Grew up together. In the same house and everything. Ate together, went to school together, and learned the intricacies of football together. WHO WOULD EVER BELIEVE BROTHERS WOULD HAVE THE SAME INTERESTS? And have I told you the best part of this news? These brothers both have the last name of HARBAUGH. Jim HARBAUGH and John HARBAUGH. They learned how to coach from their football coach dad, Jack HARBAUGH. And now these HARBAUGHS will be coaching against each other in the largest, most-watched entertainment event of the year. TREMENDOUS. Absolutely tremendous. I can’t hardly think of better bearers of the Harbaugh name to get hundreds of hours of free, around-the-clock publicity than two hyper-competitive control freaks who get paid millions of dollars to watch their team play a game. THIS IS EVERYTHING THAT IS RIGHT ABOUT AMERICA.
By now, I hope you realize that my tone to this point has been completely sarcastic and I do not actually mean anything I wrote in the previous paragraph. I am disgusted to my very core by the antics of these two UTTER DISGRACES to the Harbaugh name. A Ravens-49ers Super Bowl may be a boon to everyone who’s related to Jack and Jackie Harbaugh (What the heck? Who marries someone with that similar a first name? IDIOTS), but it’s just one big, old stinkfinger raised to everyone else who’s accomplished something in life under this last name. Like myself, for example. Does anyone give half a turd about what I’ve done in my life? Of course not! Because graduating from Purdue with a degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, earning a commercial pilot’s license (with over 1600 hours of total flying time!), working at the Johnson Space Center for a decade, training to be an astronaut and flying into FREAKING OUTER SPACE to work on the Space Shuttle IN ADDITION to balancing all that with a wife and three kids and constructive hobbies like running and snow skiing are all CLEARLY things we should not be encouraging our children to emulate. That’s right. I’m the screw-up here.
Look, I get it. I understand football’s a fun escape for a lot of people. It’s easier to understand why a quarterback threw a pass or a receiver caught a ball than it is to understand how two new spectrometers were installed in the Hubble Space Telescope over a ten-day mission. That’s fine. But please. Don’t be foisting up your little physical activity time as the pinnacle of Western civilization just because you spend twenty hours a day trying to learn how to defend a screen pass. Just look at this quote John Harbaugh gave the other day:
I can’t even get my arms around it. My dad said something to me — my mom’s and dad’s parents are immigrants, salt-of-the-earth people. They treasure America; it’s meant everything to them, being here. I hope people can see what an incredible moment this is for our country. This is America, how hard work can get you to a moment like this. This is the greatness of America.
ABSOLUTELY, John. This right here? This little brother-against-brother matchup you’ve got going in your glorified YMCA event in a couple weeks? Yes, THIS is the greatest example we have ever seen of America’s true excellence at work. Everything the Founding Fathers did back in the 1700s? WORTHLESS. The work Abraham Lincoln put in to end slavery and piece a fractured country back together? I HEARD HE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY RUN A ZONE BLITZ. And, of course, all of my personal accomplishments don’t mean squat because, again, I ONLY WENT INTO FREAKING SPACE AS A FREAKING NASA ASTRONAUT AND SAW THE EARTH FROM A VANTAGE POINT ONLY .0000001% OF ALL HUMANS HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. Nope, you and your little brother – who foams at the mouth whenever an official momentarily messes up a down-by-contact ruling – you two are the country’s best role models going forward. Unbelievable.
I’m telling you guys, there is no justice in the world. I mean, just type in my name into Google and see what comes up. That’s right – I don’t even get my own name all to myself! I have to share it with an estate planning and administration lawyer from Pittsburgh who, I’m sure, is a great guy and a fine lawyer but HOLY CRAP I’M GONNA PUNCH SOMEBODY IF HIS SITES DON’T GET OFF THE FIRST PAGE OF GOOGLE HITS. And look at this! I can’t even get the first freaking result when you type in my name on LinkedIn. Does Greg Harbaugh, president of FSK Consulting Group in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, seem even REMOTELY CAPABLE of leading the first docking mission with the Russian Space Station Mir? You look at that face and tell me there’s a snowball’s chance in hell! And gah! That lawyer from Pittsburgh’s ahead of me there, too! Un-freaking-believable. This day just keeps getting better and better.
So, obviously, the choice is clear, American parents: raising your son or daughter to be a hard-working, intelligent, space-walking lover of knowledge who grows up to be the president of a well-known non-profit foundation is NOT an acceptable outcome to the parenting process. No, what you want your kids to be are two homicidally competitive freaks who spend every waking moment of their lives focused on playing a kid’s game and making incoherent comments about gobbling turkeys. John and Jim Harbaugh are obviously the well-rounded, Renaissance men our society needs in order to stave off eventual invasion from the Chinese. BOW DOWN BEFORE THE HARBAUGHS AND THEIR IN-DEPTH KNOWLEDGE OF THE WEST COAST OFFENSE! They’re your rulers now. And they’re not going to stop until every man, woman and child in this country properly knows how to call an audible and read their pre-snap keys! THIS IS YOUR FUTURE, AMERICA. You’re all screwed. You hear me? SCREWED!!!!!
(Also, if someone out there wants to teach me about search engine optimization techniques, I would greatly appreciate it. I’m tired of seeing the Greg Harbaugh from Pittsburgh ahead of me on LinkedIn. Thank you.)
Rather than post the numbers for all playoff teams and make the strikethrough function absolutely crazy with power, I’ll just post the figures for the four teams that played last weekend for kicks and giggles. Baltimore has obviously experienced the largest jump to their ratings during the postseason; their Adjusted Yards per Play Differential has jumped from 0.82 at the end of the regular season to 1.16 just three playoff games later. They’ve experienced a similar rise in Predictive Yards per Play efficiency as well, jumping from approximately 1.20 to 1.43. And the improvement has occurred on both sides of the ball, as well: their offensive rating was approximately 2.96 at the end of the regular season, it’s now 3.10 three games later. And once you factor in the lower variance inherent in the defensive PY/P rating, the Ravens’ defensive improvement has been almost as impressive (1.75 after Week 17 to 1.67 currently). As you can see from the rankings below, they will still be considered underdogs to the 49ers twelve days from now, but it’s clear that they’ll be going into that game trending firmly upward.
Adjusted Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.00): a descriptive metric that is designed to give an accurate representation of how each team has played thus far.
- San Francisco: 2.05 (Final regular season ranking: 1)
New England: 1.35 (Final regular season ranking: 4)
- Baltimore: 1.16 (Final regular season ranking: 9)
Atlanta: 0.61 (Final regular season ranking: 10)
Offensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 5.00)
- San Francisco: 6.29 (Final regular season ranking: 4)
New England: 6.08 (Final regular season ranking: 3) Atlanta: 5.91 (Final regular season ranking: 5)
- Baltimore: 5.65 (Final regular season ranking: 12)
Defensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 5.00)
- San Francisco: 4.24 (Final regular season ranking: 2)
- Baltimore: 4.49 (Final regular season ranking: 11)
New England: 4.73 (Final regular season ranking: 9) Atlanta: 5.31 (Final regular season ranking: 18)
Predictive Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.995419): a metric which doesn’t give as large a penalty or bonus to turnovers or touchdowns, will also take into account strength of schedule and will (theoretically) better able to predict future performance. This metric uses probabilities drawn from research Brian Burke did back in 2008 in trying to determine which stats best correlated with future play. For example, because offensive performance is much more consistent from week-to-week than defensive performance, offensive play is more highly prioritized in these rankings.
- San Francisco: 1.980884 (Final regular season ranking: 1)
New England: 1.440214 (Final regular season ranking: 5)
- Baltimore: 1.433378 (Final regular season ranking: 12)
Atlanta: 1.221527 (Final regular season ranking: 17)
Offensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 2.851036)
- San Francisco: 3.475387 (Final regular season ranking: 3)
New England: 3.347754 (Final regular season ranking: 5) Atlanta: 3.255194 (Final regular season ranking: 13)
- Baltimore: 3.099683 (Final regular season ranking: 14)
Defensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 1.855616)
- San Francisco: 1.494502 (Final regular season ranking: 2)
- Baltimore: 1.666305 (Final regular season ranking: 12)
New England: 1.907539 (Final regular season ranking: 20) Atlanta: 2.033668 (Final regular season ranking: 24)