there’s probably a lot more cheating with the patriots

So far, the Patriots have been nailed on two cheating scandals – deflation gate 2015 and the 2006 spying scandal. Each of these is interesting in its own right but there is one implication that few are willing to utter. The Patriots are probably cheating in more ways than we imagine.

The intuition is simple. Cheating incidents are not independent. It is not likely that every person will cheat with equal probability. Rather, people who want to cheat are the most likely to cheat and do so over and over. Also, consider incentives. They have been caught cheating multiple times and that hasn’t seemed to harm them much at all. The conclusion is that it is highly likely the Patriots are cheating in other ways.

I think it would be interesting for the fans of vanquished teams to conduct Levitt style analyses of the Patriots. I would guess that looking at other data in addition to the now famous fumble analysis will yeild some interesting answers.

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Written by fabiorojas

January 26, 2015 at 12:45 am

10 Responses

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  1. “So far the Patriots have been nailed on two cheating scandals – deflation gate 2015 and the 2006 spying scandal.” Seriously Fabiorojas, for a scientist, you could at least present accurate data. First, no “deflategate” findings have yet to be deliverd by the NFL. And the 2006 “spying scandal” actually occurred in 2007; and involved the videotaping of coaching signals made in public (in front of 80,000 fans) during a 2007 game against the Jets. In both instances, initial claims were made by opposing teams following losing games against the Patriots. I think the better suggestion for you (clearly a Patriots hater or Seahawks fan) to have posed would be Levitt-styled analysis of the social incentive gains (distractions incurred by the Patriots) achieved by inferior football teams as a means of increasing their own glory while diminishing an otherwise erstwhile and worthy opponent.
    Go Patriots!!!



    January 26, 2015 at 2:50 am

  2. Agree with Dan completely. If we count use of PEDs as “cheating” (and surely this is a more impactful-for-outcomes form of cheating than SpyGate or, maybe, PSIGate, given that we still have zero evidence whatsoever), there have been 150 “independent draws” since 2001; 3 of them were on a Patriots contract, which is among the lowest in the league. (Note: some of these are for drugs other than PEDs, but the NFL doesn’t always separate them out.)

    As for the “famous fumble stats”, it is essentially amateur pseudo-social science. Not only do they show the graph of fumbles lost (because in total fumbles, the Pats are barely top 5), but they then claim that for total fumbles the Pats look abnormal if you use only non-dome teams and drop a game against Denver with five fumbles. If you check, you’ll see that at home, the Patriots actually fumble quite a bit – it is on the road that they do well, and no surprise, given that the teams in their division are notoriously bad at forcing fumbles.

    The rest can be explained by the following graph I just put together: ; note that the teams who have very few fumbles also tend to be the teams with very few interceptions, which also happen to be the teams with experienced pocket passers. QBs are responsible for roughly 1/2 of fumbles lost, and those almost always happen when the QB scrambles instead of just taking a sack. Experienced pocket passers like Brady don’t scramble.



    January 26, 2015 at 3:05 am

  3. My first reaction to the above comments was “Well, the Livestrong crowd is out in force.” I do agree fully that the fumble data is much weaker when you dig into details than what it looks initially from how the person presented it. But, more broadly, the comments evince this sensibility that it’s improper to regard anything as rule-breaking unless it has been articulated as such officially by the NFL. Should people have such faith in the judiciary capacity of a private entity with obvious interests and a history of suppressing evidence from public view? It appears much stronger than the confidence many people currently have in, for example, grand juries.



    January 26, 2015 at 2:56 pm

  4. Jeremy, the NFL is the entity which opened the investigation into whether the Patriots intentionally lowered the PSI of the game balls used during the first half of their AFC Champiosnhip game against the Colts. Who else would be responsible for reaching a conclusion? My point was that Fabio, and now you, have both decided the Patriot’s are cheaters before the NFL investigation (or any adjudication, other than the court of public opinion) is complete. I would remind you that the IOC and UCI, are also private companies whose own investigations along with incriminating evidence from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA),resulted in Armstrong’s loss of an Olympic bronze and Tour de France titles. You know nothing about me and characterizing my comments as evidence of membership in the “Livestrong crowd,” simply advertises your own bias and capacity for uninformed predisposition.



    January 26, 2015 at 3:44 pm

  5. So, you’ve already contradicted yourself. After all, your first post noted how the investigation started as a result of claims made by the Colts, who you wished to cast as sore losers. Your second post casts the NFL as launching the investigation solely from their stewardly interest in the integrity of the game.

    Your fallacy here–and it’s a deep, awful, common fallacy–is to imagine that there is any “court” here that is not the “court of public opinion.” It’s magical thinking, like believing in sasquatch or fairies or that Tim Tebow will be a successful NFL quarterback because he’s a “winner.” With Lance Armstrong, you are outing yourself as part of the Livestrong crowd by suggesting that one needed to wait until the verdicts of the USADA before understanding that Lance Armstrong cheated.



    January 26, 2015 at 4:07 pm

  6. Dan, I’ve got my popcorn and an Eagles jersey on. I’m now seated. Please restate your position to Jeremy.

    Liked by 1 person


    January 26, 2015 at 5:11 pm

  7. Agree with Jeremy. The NFL has some pretty considerable financial interests at stake in the outcome of this investigation, so there is no reason to think its findings would have any more integrity than a verdict from the court of public opinion. That being said, I believe the preferred term for the scandal is now ‘Ballghazi” not deflation gate.



    January 26, 2015 at 5:37 pm

  8. The NFL isn’t having a good year, to say the least, in promoting the image of a fair and impartial arbiter.


    brayden king

    January 26, 2015 at 6:13 pm

  9. Well, now that Fabio has his popcorn (and Eagles jersey) let the fun begin. ;)
    There is no contradiction between my statements Jeremy. You mention the Colts, as the protagonist, not me. I stated that in both “cheating” instances Fabio originally referenced, the initial claims “were made by losing opponents.” Jeremy you have suggested the Colts, not me; although I have read that it was more likely the Ravens (Harbaugh). Regardless of which losing opponent initiated the claim, you don’t seem to be able to understand that the NFL is, in the case of deflate-gate, reacting to the allegation presented to them by opening an investigation. What else would you have the League office do? Nowhere do I use the term or imply that “the NFL as launching the investigation solely from their stewardly interest in the integrity of the game.” As the arbiter of league rules, including when/if videotaping is allowed or football inflation volumes are within an acceptable range, the NFL is the appropriate entity to conduct and complete this investigation. My disagreement with Fabio and you is that you have both reached a determination before the League Itself, the official arbiter, irrespective of their financial interests. Speaking of which, while there is always some fungible interest being served by an adjudicating authority, it is not always at the cost of integrity. And yes Jeremy, you would be correct that I wait until the facts are in evidence, having been reviewed and evaluated by the authoritative and expert parties before theories become findings. And, you are also correct that I believe in something more than the court of public opinion. Call that magical, but I believe that such analytically-based thinking is a core principal to an objective determination, including the “science” of association.

    Go Patriots!!



    January 26, 2015 at 8:50 pm

  10. 1. What Fabio said was basically, Cheaters gonna cheat. In that context, what’s relevant about the spying was not that it took place in front of 80,000 fans but that it was against the rules.That’s why the league levied a $500,000 fine.
    2. I think Sharp redid the graph of plays-per-fumble, and the Pats still show up as outliers.



    January 26, 2015 at 9:43 pm

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