Neanderthal Genes: Evolutionists Surprised at How Wrong They Were

first_imgA substantial amount of Neanderthal genes in a modern human skeleton is not what they had predicted.The headline reads: “Early modern humans interbred with Neanderthals: An early European had a close Neanderthal ancestor.” DNA from a jawbone discovered in a Romanian cave has been sequenced. Finding 8 to 11 percent of Neanderthal DNA in this individual’s genome means that it had a Neanderthal ancestor as near as its great-great-grandparent. This strengthens the case that Neanderthals and modern humans are members of the same species. They produced fertile offspring, not sterile hybrids. Evidence for interbreeding between the two human “species” (Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis) now comes from a wide area stretching from western Siberia to Romania.Here are some reactions from evolutionary anthropologists, as reported in the secular media:“I could hardly believe it when we first saw the results” — Svante Pääbo from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology who led the study. (Science Daily)“The data from the jawbone imply that humans mixed with Neanderthals not just in the Middle East but in Europe as well.” (Ibid.)“It’s an incredibly unexpected thing,” said Prof David Reich, a co-author of the paper from the Harvard Medical School. (BBC News)The large spans of Neanderthal-like segments in Oase 1’s genome indicate that one of his human ancestors interbred with a Neanderthal less than 200 years before he lived. (Live Science)In the past decade, the analysis of ancient DNA from fossil skeletons of anatomically modern humans has revealed a startling fact: some of our direct ancestors had sex with Neanderthals, producing fertile offspring. Prior to these genetic revelations, anthropological researchers were divided between those who firmly believed that such unions either did not occur, or that they could not have yielded sexually fertile offspring, because the differences between early modern humans and Neanderthal genomes would have been too great. (Scott Armstrong Elias in The Conversation)These reactions show: (1) earlier evolutionary thinking about Neanderthals was wrong; (2) the data were not predicted; (3) the results were surprising and startling—even unbelievable. In science that usually amounts to falsification.Reconstructing the Unseen IndirectlyThis is not the only problem in paleoanthropology. PNAS just published a report stating that “Despite its importance for understanding genetic, cultural, and linguistic evolution, prehistoric human population history has remained difficult to reconstruct.” A new look at climate proxies for the assumed “last glacial maximum” (LGM) shows errors in previous models: “Although climate has been an important determinant of human population dynamics, the climatic conditions during the last glacial were not as harsh as is often presented, because even during the coldest phases, the climatically suitable area for humans covered 36% of Europe.” Creation scientists believe in a single Ice Age, when climate took a few centuries to stabilize after the Flood.Embarrassing Confessions from an InsiderOne of the leading evolutionary paleoanthropologists just wrote a shocking tell-all about his field. Ian Tattersall’s new book, The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack: And Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution (2015), was reviewed in Nature under the headline, “Human evolution: How we misread our own story.” Tattersall reveals some of the egregious missteps in the history of evolutionary anthropology, from Piltdown Man to the present. This gives little confidence in the current batch of experts. The book “is an interesting critical evaluation of how palaeoanthropology has developed,” William Davies writes in his review. “Rivalries between teams are delineated and used to explain how we know what we know.” If so much previous teaching has been demolished, can we trust what we are being told now? “Many new hominin species have been identified in recent years, but it is not yet clear how they are related to us.” As usual, “more work is needed,” he ends.Science Magazine‘s review is similarly pessimistic. Erika Lorraine Milam begins with an interesting thought experiment:What would happen if, tomorrow, scientists were to rediscover the entire hominid fossil record, without any preconceptions inherited from the last century? According to Ian Tattersall, curator emeritus of anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), the resulting picture of human evolution would differ dramatically from that bequeathed to today’s paleontologists by their predecessors. In The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack, he traces the contingencies, false starts, and diversity of opinions that have characterized the intellectual history of paleoanthropology from Darwin to today.She just said that the false starts and disagreements continue right to the present. It would be possible, given this confession, to start a completely different story if the data were considered objectively from scratch. “History, Tattersall reminds us, defines who we think we are,” she concludes. “In his retelling, this rings true both for the scientific debates and convergences that comprise his narrative and for the long, complex history of hominids that paleoanthropologists are still piecing together.” One can only imagine how the smattering of bones and skulls would be interpreted without the assumption of millions of years.Now that the evolutionary anthropologists have been wrong about Neanderthals for over a century (5/08/10, 9/23/08), what should be done? Fire them. Repudiate them. Stop listening to them. Laugh at them. Then censure them for historical revisionism and racism (5/06/14). The DNA doesn’t fit their evolutionary story. It couldn’t, because it’s only a few thousand years old. The only way to say it’s older is to assume evolution. But if the evolutionists are already untrustworthy and wrong, their assumptions about DNA survivability should be tossed out with them. Their whole timeline and evolutionary saga is made up! We don’t need just “cautionary tales.” Fire the storytellers!If they want to keep their jobs, we could offer them the option of using their training and skills to interpret their finds within the framework that fits the evidence: creation. (Visited 201 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Nelson Mandela science school – a promise fulfilled

first_imgAn artist’s impression of the new science and technology high school in Mvezo, Eastern Cape. Click image for a larger view. (Image: Mandela School of Science and Technology) • Patuxolo Toni Acting school principal Mandela School of Science and Technology +27 73 508 9447 • Science school comes to Mvezo • A fun approach to science teaching • Denel helps maths, science pupils • South African education project wins top award • Zuma: South Africa to meet 2015 education goalSulaiman PhilipThe first high school to open in the rural village of Mvezo, Nelson Mandela’s birthplace, is a state-of-the-art school dedicated to science and technology. The modern campus, set on the banks of the winding Mbashe River deep in rural Transkei, is the fulfilment of a promise Siemens chief executive Peter Loescher made to Mandela in 2010.Cutting the ribbon at the opening on Friday 17 January, President Jacob Zuma said that the Mandela School of Science and Technology was a dream fulfilled for Madiba. Madiba was Mandela’s clan name and the name by which he was fondly known; his official title was Nkosi Dalibhunga Mandela. Just as he was able to convince American businesswoman Oprah Winfrey to spend her own money to establish her Leadership Academy for Girls, Zuma said, he convinced the European technology giant’s Loescher to build a school in Mvezo.In his speech, Zuma told the incoming students: “Madiba had to travel far to obtain secondary education because there was no secondary school in this area. Siemens has ensured that the children of Mvezo receive a state-of-the-art science and technology school that Madiba did not even dream of way back then.”Siemens spent R98-million on the construction and will be responsible for the running costs of the school for the first three years. It will accommodate 700 students from 22 feeder schools in the Eastern Cape. The cream of the region’s high school science talent will be tutored at the leafy campus and have access to computer and science labs, a library and resource centre, and well-maintained sports and recreation facilities.The first year’s intake comprises 400 students in grades eight to 10.South African President Jacob Zuma, Siemens Southern Africa CEO Sigi Proebstl, and Mandla Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, at the official opening of the school in Mvezo on Friday 17 January 2014. (Image: GCIS)Education and freedomThe school’s colours of green and orange were inspired by the indigenous aloe. Its emblem, designed by Siemens with input from the local community, is a wind turbine set on a traditional Xhosa battle shield. The turbine blades divide the shield into three fields. The top section represents the village of Mvezo, and the left and right sections highlight the science and technology focus of the school. The school motto, developed by local community members, is: Education is freedom. It was inspired by Mandela’s words: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The crest of the Mandela School of Science and Technology. Click image for a larger view.Siegmar Proebstl, Siemens Africa chief executive, said that beyond the importance of building a world-class school where none existed, the project was socially rewarding as well. Using Siemens water filtration technology, the school will supply clean water for its own use, and for the surrounding community. In a nod to sustainability, building materials were sourced from the surrounding area, and the sun will be harnessed to light the resource centre and the external lighting. As part of the education programme, students will be trained, alongside members of the Mvezo community, to maintain the technology.“We are a technology company focusing on technology solutions. The learners in the school will be exposed to this cutting-edge technology and will hopefully get excited about technological solutions and the fascinating world of engineering. South Africa and the rest of the Africa needs engineers to find answers to the continent’s infrastructure challenges and to create jobs,” Proebstl explained.Altruism and a desire to celebrate Madiba’s legacy are not the only reasons for the school’s existence. Siemens, like other corporations, struggles to find qualified South Africans to fill vacant posts in the country. As many as 600 engineering and technology posts at Siemens have gone unfilled because South African graduates do not have the skills levels to step into employment. For this reason, the company has sought to invest in educational initiatives.Explaining the large investment in Mvezo, Rita Nkhulu, Siemens South Africa head of corporate strategy and the project leader for the school, told Business Week: “There are lots of students coming out of school with grades that are really not up to par.”Science and technology challengesConceding that there were still challenges to be faced in the teaching of science and technology, Zuma thanked Siemens for its vision. He said co-operation between the government and the private sector was the best way forward. “We appreciate the support from the private sector in our quest to improve the quality of education in the country.”As his speech drew to a close, Zuma reminded the learners of the responsibility they had as the first students at the Mandela School of Science and Technology. They were being trained to be the leaders of tomorrow and had to honour the memory of the greatest South African, whose name was on the wall above the entrance.The school falls under the government’s Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, an R8.2-billion public-private initiative that aims to eradicate the 496 “mud schools” and provide water and sanitation to 1 257 schools and electricity to 878 schools by March 2016.last_img read more

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Whew- that’s a wrap for Personal Finance in 2016!

first_imgBy Molly C. HerndonWhew – 90 minutes flew by this morning as Dr. Barbara O’Neill presented the final Personal Finance webinar of 2016. This annual review webinar has become a staple of our programming; this is the third annual review we’ve presented.“Glow in the Dark Party Social Media Graphic” by Ellie Ong from Marketplace Desginers from Canva.com.Always, jam-packed with information, research and issues, these reviews offer insight into the topics that made headlines this year and will make an impact on your wallet next year.Some especially troubling insights shared in today’s webinar included the finding from the Federal Reserve that states 46% of adults could not cover a $400 emergency expense. This finding is supported by the AP survey that found 76% of Americans making $50,000 annually or less could not cover a $1,000 emergency expense.More troubling findings included the report that found fewer men ages 24-54 are currently working than were employed near the end of the Great Depression. Coupled with the expense of child care costs, which exceeds the cost of in-state tuition in some areas, and the fact that 1/3 of Millennials are still living at home with parents, and we can open the door to some true insight into the economic state of many Americans.On a positive note, a decrease in uninsured Americans was found this year. However, high deductibles have increased. The highest deductible on record, at $1,000 for an individual plan, was impacting half of insured workers this year. Research also showed a decline in long-term care insurance. This trend is especially troubling as the oldest Baby Boomers, born in 1946, celebrate their 70th birthdays this year.More insights were shared about older Americans in today’s webinar. The fastest growing category of workers, either by race or gender, is women older than 65. This could be due to the fact that more 65-year olds have 47% more mortgage debt and 29% more automobile debt than a 65-year old had in 2003. In addition, more 70-year olds are paying off mortgages than ever before.What finding struck you? There were so many discussion points started in this webinar, and so little opportunity to dig deeper. Please share your thoughts on these issues. Do these findings support what you’re seeing in your own clients?For a more comprehensive list of the resources shared in todays’ webinar, check out our Twitter stream. Dr. O’Neill also included many of these resources in the Online Resource Guide, found under “Event Materials” on the event’s page. Check out the presentation slides, available here, as well. You can also check the Learn page to rewatch the webinar via the recording or share with a colleague. The recording is usually posted within 24 hours of the live event.last_img read more

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Feel assured in team now, says VVS Laxman

first_imgHe has been a long-time middle-order mainstay of India’s batting line-up but veteran VVS Laxman says he started feeling assured in the team only in the last four years during which he was given the “freedom” to play his natural game.Laxman still remembers the years when he wasn’t made to feel an automatic choice in India’s playing XI even after he had crafted the legend of 281 against the Australians at Eden Gardens in the waning winter of 2001.”In the last four years, first Anil (Kumble) bhai and then Mahendra Singh (Dhoni), as well as coach Gary (Kirsten), have given me an assurance in the team, the freedom to play my natural game, and I’ve been able to translate that freedom into performance,” reflects Laxman.”During my first four years, between 1996-2000, while opening the innings and trying to do my best for the team, whenever I failed in two innings, people used to brand me as a non-regular opener and I used to get dropped very frequently,” he recalled.Gearing up for the Test series against England that starts at Lord’s from July 21, Laxman said he desires to strike his first century against the hosts in a wining cause.”I haven’t made a century in England yet; nor the team has won at Lord’s while I have been around,” states Laxman.Laxman views his career in two halves — one before and one after 2007 when he felt completely assured in the team.-With PTI inputslast_img read more

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Diego Maradona expresses desire to coach Argentina for free

first_imgArgentina great Diego Maradona has expressed desire for a second stint at coaching his national team and this time he says he would do it for free.It has been eight years since Maradona last was at the helm of the Argentine football team, one that ended in a World Cup failure.The World Cup-winning captain for Argentina coached the national team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where his team were thrashed 4-0 by Germany in the quarter-finals.Now with Argentina’s calamitous campaign at the 2018 FIFA World Cup under Jorge Sampaoli coming to an end prematurely in the Round of 16, Maradona is fancying another shot.”Yes, and I would do it for free,” Maradona said on a Venezuelan TV show. “I wouldn’t ask for anything in return.”Lionel Messi’s Argentina were outplayed by France and the 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe 4-3 in the last 16 stage of the World Cup this year.Sampaoli came under severe criticism for his lack of control over the Argentine dressing room and his inability to have different plans for Argentina’s success.With Argentina’s performance in Russia, Sampaoli’s job is under serious threat even though the coach’s contract exists till 2022.Maradona, on the other hand, has only coached two club sides in the United Arab Emirates since his 2010 stint with Argentina.He is still one of the most controversial faces in football, and he hit the headlines in Russia for his colourful appearances at Argentina games.Never a stranger to extremes, Maradona produced some of this World Cup’s lasting images – celebrating victories in iconic poses, giving the finger to fans, and being helped into a hospitality box to be seen by doctors after suffering from low blood pressure.advertisement”People think I am happy but my heart is heavy,” Maradona said about Argentina’s elimination. “I feel really bad that everything we built with so much effort we destroyed so easily.”(With Reuters inputs)last_img read more

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2014 Trans Tasman Series – 100 days to go!

first_imgThe countdown is on for one of the most anticipated Trans Tasman Series’ in recent history. Australia will be out to reclaim the Trans Tasman trophy when the 2014 Trans Tasman Series is held at Glen Willow Stadium in Mudgee, New South Wales in just 100 days’ time (Friday, 25 April until Sunday, 27 April 2014). With the 2015 World Cup edging closer, the Trans Tasman event will be the arch rivals’ last chance to battle it out before the World Cup is held in Coffs Harbour in April and May, 2015. Last time they met (Auckland, February 2013), New Zealand claimed the series two divisions to one, with Australia winning the Women’s Open division 3-0, while the Kiwis were victors in the Men’s and Mixed divisions, two games to one. “It [the Trans-Tasman series] is vital,” Touch Football Australia CEO Colm Maguire told the Mudgee Guardian.“It is going to be very busy leading up to the World Cup and not only do we have the Trans-Tasman but there is the State of Origin series in September and the Elite Eight Series before the World Cup.“If they [the players] don’t take the opportunity they have been given, then there are plenty of other people who are pushing their case for selection.”The 2012 event saw the two nations engage with the community through ANZAC Day ceremonies as well as school visits and Touch Football clinics.Maguire says the 2014 event will have a similar feel. “We want to involve the locals as much as possible.“I think the last time it was one of the first events held at the stadium and no one really knew how it was going to go. The Anzac part of it went really well and the school involvement only came about by chance [because of a school touch tournament].“We want to involve the schools and the players of the sport, interact with everyone.”Wednesday, 15 January marks 100 days until the 2014 Trans Tasman Test Series, so what better way to kick off our coverage of the event than a 100 day countdown!Head to the ‘2014 Trans Tasman Series’ tab under ‘Tournaments’ on the top menu of the website for more information in the lead up to the Series. Stay tuned to www.austouch.com.au in the lead up to the 2014 Trans Tasman Series as we keep you up-to-date with all of the latest news and information about the event. Check out some of the highlights of the last event played in Mudgee, the 2012 Trans Tasman Series, below. Please click on the link below to read the Mudgee Guardian story: http://www.mudgeeguardian.com.au/story/2022401/maguire-promises-a-touch-of-class-at-trans-tasman/?cs=1233#slide=2 Related Links100 day countdown begins!last_img read more

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Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes and Duje Dukan Are Hanging With Local Elementary Students Today

first_imgFrank Kaminsky on the court against Duke.INDIANAPOLIS, IN – APRIL 06: Frank Kaminsky #44 of the Wisconsin Badgers reacts after falling to the court in the first half against the Duke Blue Devils during the NCAA Men’s Final Four National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 6, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)The No. 5 Wisconsin men’s basketball team last played at Michigan on Saturday and won’t take the court again until this Saturday at Iowa. With some extra free time this week, Badger big men Frank Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes and Duje Dukan are hanging out with the students at Glacier Edge Elementary School in nearby Verona, Wis. All three players spoke with the students as part of the school’s Kindness Week activities. The All-American Kaminsky even took a selfie with some students: #BadgersGiveBack #Notor #NigelHayesA photo posted by Frank Kaminsky (@fskpart3) on Jan 28, 2015 at 9:00am PST Dukan, who is 6-foot-10, tried to blend in with the crowd but it didn’t work out too well.New game: #WheresDuje? pic.twitter.com/GOY5bm3J8V— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) January 28, 2015 Hayes, meanwhile, may not have a future as a comedian judging off this joke, but he does know his state geography. Stand-up comedy with Nigel Hayes #BadgersGiveBackA video posted by Wisconsin Basketball (@badgermbb) on Jan 28, 2015 at 8:39am PSTOne underrated aspect of these photos and video is the impressive jersey game of some of the students at Glacier Edge. The local staples (Wisconsin and the Green Bay Packers) are of course represented, but shoutout to the kid in the sweet Dallas Mavericks throwback, and the two young men who wore the NFL jerseys of Badger alumni Russell Wilson and J.J. Watt.last_img read more

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Florida’s Governor Is Sending Personal Letters To Football Recruits Who Stay Home, Play For Gators

first_imgA Florida Gators player running on the field with a Florida Gators flag.LEXINGTON, KY – SEPTEMBER 23: Chauncey Gardner Jr #23 of the Florida Gators celebrates after the 28-27 win over the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field on September 23, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)Yesterday, 5-star Florida defensive end signee CeCe Jefferson shared that he had received a letter from Florida Governor Rick Scott congratulating him for staying in-state for college. It appears Scott is sending these letters to other UF signees from the Sunshine State. Here is a photo of the letter that was sent to Pasco High School defensive lineman Andrew Ivie, courtesy of his coach Tom McHugh. To Andrew Ivie pic.twitter.com/gWzqsyPNzw— Tom McHugh (@tmac114) April 1, 2015This is interesting, because it appears Scott is making a concerted effort to thank recruits for playing in-state. Wonder how FSU fans feel about this, unless he is sending them to Seminole signees as well.last_img read more

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Dear NFL Kickers Will Not Be Stopped

Did you hear about the NFL’s incredible new rule? On a point-after try, a defense will be able to score a 1-point safety by stopping the attempting team in its own end zone. Oh, and the new rule also moved the line of scrimmage for an extra point to the 15-yard line, making it the equivalent of a 33-yard field goal attempt.But indulge me for two seconds and let’s talk about this 1-point safety, a totally new thing in the NFL. Sure, it’s something that probably won’t come up very often – or, you know, ever. This new safety would occur if the offensive team fumbled the ball backwards, then the players kept knocking it backwards because of their gigantic butter-fingers until an offensive player finally recovered it in his own end zone (yes, on the other end of the field), where they were immediately tackled. (The offense can also score a 1-point safety, but that’s boring.) This opens up the tantalizing possibility of game scores traditionally reserved for baseball, soccer, or curling, like 6-1 (if the only points scored are a touchdown and a defensive point after safety) or 10-1 (if the only points scored are a touchdown, a defensive point-after safety, and two regular safeties).OK, thanks. Back to the longer extra point: The theory is that the league wants to make the play more exciting by making it less “automatic,” and perhaps by encouraging teams to go for two points more often. They’re unlikely to be very successful on either count.Kickers now convert extra points more than 99 percent of the time. That will almost certainly drop, but not by very much. It has been bandied about that kickers have made “only” 91.6 percent of attempts from this distance in the last 10 years. But 10 years is an eternity for kickers – they’re a whole lot better now than they were in 2005. As noted by Kevin Seifert, kickers have made 94.4 percent of field goals from this new distance over the last three years, and 96.7 percent last year. And that doesn’t account for the point-after kicks being slightly easier than their field goal counterparts: They’re never rushed for time, and they’re always taken from the center of the field (technically from wherever the kicker prefers). According to Pro Football Focus, kickers have made 97.6 percent of attempts taken from 30-35 yards from the dead-center of the field over the past three years.When I wrote about kickers in January I developed an era-sensitive model for kickers that at least partially accounts for hash marks (and, if I may, is scary accurate). It’s slightly more conservative than that Pro Football Focus mark, but predicts that kickers would make 96.4 percent of 33-yard kicks next year, rising to about 98 percent over the next 10 years.This isn’t the first time the NFL has been uncomfortable with how good kickers have gotten at their jobs. In 1974, the league moved the goal posts to the back of the end zone, effectively making XPs and other kicks 10 yards harder. Extra point success dropped from 98 percent the year before to 92.1 percent the year after. But it didn’t take long for kickers to recover:From an excitement standpoint, it’s tough to see a significant difference between teams making their extra points 96-98 percent of the time rather than 99. Even if misses happen slightly more often, they’re still going to be infrequent enough that I’d guess they’re more likely to annoy fans after the fact than keep them in suspense beforehand.And while this should marginally improve the math in favor of 2-point attempts, it’s not nearly dramatic enough to make going for two points the obviously better option. (It would have been if the NFL had also moved the line of scrimmage on 2-point attempts up to the 1-yard line, per the Eagles proposal.) Defenses will also be able to score two points on the play by returning a fumble, interception or blocked kick for a “touchdown,” as is the rule in college.And coaches are already pretty irrational about going for two. They have been converted about 47.4 percent of the time over the past 10 years, which would be enough to make them roughly the equivalent of kicking extra points (from an expected-value perspective; though that number may be low because teams that make 2-point attempts tend to be slightly worse than average). At the very least, the expected value of going for it versus kicking is so close that the decision should be dominated by the tactical situation (such as how far ahead or behind they are, and whether they should be playing it safe or trying to gamble) and how good the teams are in short yardage situations. But coaches still basically only make the 2-point attempt when they’re required to.If there is a big shift in favor of going for two, I think it’s more likely to be a result of coaches deciding the new rule gives them cover for it, rather than a large and fundamental shift in the math. And there’s precedent for this: The all-time high for successful 2-point attempts made was 59, set in 1994 – the year the play was first introduced. read more

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Who Are The Favorites In The 2019 NFL Season

Kansas CityP. Mahomes+59161510.369%50%9% Chance To… Travel distance and rest matter. We used to give a blanket home-field advantage of 65 Elo points for every game that wasn’t at a neutral site. Now, we modify our home-field effect4Which is worth a flat adjustment of 55 Elo points. using the distance the visiting team needed to travel to get to the game, docking a team by 4 points of Elo for every 1,000 miles traveled.5This effect is not applied to international games, though it is used for the Super Bowl. Teams also perform better after a bye week (including teams that don’t play during the opening week of the playoffs), so we now give a bonus of 25 Elo points whenever a team is coming into a game fresh and extra-rested. The AFC South experienced a dramatic shakeup when Andrew Luck retired two weeks ago, giving the division a whole new favorite: the Texans. Now, Houston is in somewhat tenuous possession of that distinction, with No. 6-ranked QB Deshaun Watson leading the way — despite last weekend’s bombshell trade that shipped star pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle. The Titans aren’t far behind Houston, although QB Marcus Mariota has regressed over the past few years: In Week 12 of the 2016 season, his Elo adjustment would have been 61 points higher than an average quarterback; now it’s 34 points below average. The Jaguars are right in the mix as well, thanks in part to the acquisition of former Eagles backup Nick Foles; Foles adds 14 points of Elo compared with the team’s long-term historical QB rating (i.e., Blake Bortles). Finally, the Colts went from first to last in Elo’s division prediction — literally overnight — after Luck retired. Backup Jacoby Brissett is worth about 90 fewer Elo points by himself than Luck would have been — a huge blow to Indy’s chances of making a return trip to the playoffs. Even so, this is the most uncertain division race in the league. Chance To… ClevelandB. Mayfield+915168.441252 TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl New EnglandT. Brady+52164011.180%69%14% Chance To… N.Y. JetsS. Darnold-4814527.124111 L.A. RamsJ. Goff-915889.660%46%7% How we’re predicting the AFC North race OaklandD. Carr-2614135.8125<1 L.A. ChargersP. Rivers+415809.659366 Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN PittsburghB. Roethlisberger+8715699.558%41%5% MiamiR. Fitzpatrick-213895.5104<1 MinnesotaK. Cousins+1215408.543273 Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN CincinnatiA. Dalton-4014146.2158<1 TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 29, 2019.Source: ESPN This is the tightest division race in the NFC. The Bears are favored to win again, though Mitchell Trubisky is Elo’s second-lowest rated QB in the North. (He’s 13th overall, so it mainly speaks to the quality of passers in this division.) On the other side of the ball, the amount of talent on Chicago’s defense is impressive, a necessary component as the Bears are hoping to repeat as last year’s stingiest defense in terms of points allowed. The Vikings come in slightly lower but are still 13th overall by the Elo rankings. So should we blame QB Kirk Cousins for Minnesota’s disappointing 2018 season? Probably not. Although his Elo rating wasn’t as high as during his 2016 or 2017 campaigns, Cousins was good for most of last year, and he enters 2019 as our 12th-ranked quarterback. But the best QB Elo in the division belongs to Aaron Rodgers of the Packers. Even if former coach Mike McCarthy didn’t always put him in the best position to succeed, Rodgers still had solid numbers last season and is currently ranked seventh in QB Elo. (It’s the rest of the roster that’s holding Green Bay back from a division probability better than that 24 percent.) Last, we have the Lions. They project to finish fourth, with QB Matthew Stafford coming off his worst season in years and a second-year coach already on the hot seat. But we do call for Detroit to return to its rightful place in the NFL standings, with roughly a 7-9 record, after last season’s 6-10 hiatus. The Chiefs are the second-most-likely team to win the Super Bowl, trailing only the Patriots. One of the biggest reasons: Elo ranks Patrick Mahomes as the fourth-most-valuable QB in the league behind Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees. Although K.C. will probably regress some after last year’s breakout (we think the Chiefs’ point differential will fall from +144 to +79), and the defense is no better than average (it ranks 16th in ESPN’s preseason Football Power Index), we think this is the team most likely to dethrone New England. The Chargers aren’t running very far behind, either, ranking sixth in overall Elo. L.A. didn’t do much over the offseason — and its trademark injury problems are already cropping up — but this remains one of the most talented rosters in the game. The gap between this division’s top two and bottom two is vast. The Broncos upgraded under center with former Ravens QB Joe Flacco, but he’s still mediocre at best. Late summer for the Raiders has been a circus even by the standards of a “Hard Knocks” team; maybe Brown will improve QB Derek Carr’s numbers, but the team has plenty of other question marks. Oakland and Denver won’t be helped by playing the two toughest schedules in the league, either. Chance To… WashingtonC. Keenum-2414276.31691 Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN Chance To… TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl How we’re predicting the NFC South race How we’re predicting the NFC North race DenverJ. Flacco-1614626.82091 TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl How we’re predicting the AFC East race San FranciscoJ. Garoppolo-2114807.428171 HoustonD. Watson+2915338.443%32%3% As we said above, the Patriots are not only the division favorites (for what feels like the millionth consecutive season) but are also the model’s top Super Bowl pick. Their fate is tied to Tom Brady continuing to play well at an age when basically no other QB has done that, of course, and he’ll have to do it without favorite security blanket Rob Gronkowski, who retired in March. But Brady hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down yet, and he’ll get to face the NFL’s easiest schedule7According to the average Elo ratings of New England’s regular-season opponents, adjusted for expected starting QBs and home-field advantage. in 2019. Perhaps surprisingly, Elo gives the Bills a slight edge over the Jets for second place in the East. Both teams’ sophomore QBs (Josh Allen and Sam Darnold) played well down the stretch last season, though our model likes Allen a bit more. New York had the more eventful offseason, signing Le’Veon Bell and abruptly firing GM Mike Maccagnan, but the Bills might have made steadier progress. And the Dolphins bring up the rear, though they have the division’s second-highest rated Elo QB in newcomer Ryan Fitzpatrick. (Amid questions of Miami tanking, Vegas gives the Phins 500-to-1 Super Bowl odds, the worst in football.) IndianapolisJ. Brissett-5514797.328191 Chance To… How we’re predicting the NFC East race AtlantaM. Ryan+6715338.339233 TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl N.Y. GiantsE. Manning-2714246.4179<1 DallasD. Prescott+1815478.949334 TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl New OrleansD. Brees+61160410.063%46%8% ArizonaK. Murray-5013895.5106<1 Tampa BayJ. Winston+714466.61791 Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN The more things change in the NFL, the more they stay the same. Fresh off of their sixth Super Bowl win with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at the helm, the defending champion New England Patriots open the 2019 season as our favorite to win again. The rest of the top contenders are similar to last season’s as well: the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles round out the top five in Super Bowl odds, according to our predictions.But our NFL Elo model has changed in a somewhat significant way. You can read more about how it all works here, but in a nutshell, we have added a number of wrinkles to make our football picks more accurate:Quarterback adjustments. We hinted at this over the summer, but we now track rolling performance ratings1Based on a regression between Total QBR yards above replacement and basic box score numbers (including rushing stats) from a given game, adjusted for the quality of opposing defenses. for each QB in the league, which can then be compared with a team’s own rolling QB rating to adjust its Elo in games with a different quarterback starting.2This is very similar to the way we handle starting-pitcher adjustments in our MLB Elo model. (Related to this, we have a new interactive page that shows the relative quality of every quarterback in the league.)3Initial ratings for rookies are based on draft position, ranging from a 0 for an undrafted free agent to a +113 for a No. 1 overall pick like Arizona’s Kyler Murray. TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl JacksonvilleN. Foles+914987.835242 TennesseeM. Mariota-3415027.836252 Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN CarolinaC. Newton+1415158.338223 BuffaloJ. Allen-1214757.630151 SeattleR. Wilson+1415458.746314 Green BayA. Rodgers+2815228.238243 Rumors of the Steelers’ demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated. Despite a tumultuous offseason that involved officially losing Bell8The running back sat out all of last season as part of a contractual dispute. and also shipping receiver Antonio Brown to the Raiders, Pittsburgh remains the top-ranked team in the North. Part of that is thanks to Ben Roethlisberger, who checks in as Elo’s No. 1 overall QB, and part of it is because the Steelers have one of the league’s easiest schedules. The Ravens and Browns are neck-and-neck behind them; Elo is skeptical about Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson after he posted not-so-great numbers as a rookie, but it thinks his supporting cast is superior to Baker Mayfield’s in Cleveland — despite the Browns’ big offseason (hi, Odell) and general hype level heading into 2019. Meanwhile, the Bengals are a distant No. 4, as QB Andy Dalton has seen better days, and the team is breaking in a first-time head coach (Zac Taylor). TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl BaltimoreL. Jackson-4015278.441263 DetroitM. Stafford-2214586.922121 Chance To… PhiladelphiaC. Wentz+2015869.863%49%7% Last year, the defending champion Eagles suffered a historic hangover to start their 2018 season, but eventually righted the ship to make the playoffs and even win a first-round game. Armed with Elo’s eighth-ranked QB (Carson Wentz), a talented supporting cast and one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, our model thinks Philadelphia should be division favorites in 2019 — particularly if the Eagles have better injury luck. The defending East champ Cowboys might have something to say about the Eagles being favorites, however, regardless of the holdout of RB Ezekiel Elliott. We rank QB Dak Prescott ninth in Elo, right behind Wentz. Once again trailing in the division are the Giants and Redskins; Washington has the better Elo rating but is slightly less likely to make the playoffs because of a tougher schedule than that of New York. Fittingly, both teams have mediocre veteran QBs (Eli Manning and Case Keenum) trying to fend off highly drafted rookies (Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins). At the top of the NFC South, we have Drew Brees and the Saints coming in as favorites to win the division for a third straight year. Elo rates Brees as the league’s third-best QB, even though he sputtered down the stretch of last season and will turn 41 in January. Fortunately for New Orleans, its supporting cast appears to be good enough to help ease Brees into old age, ranking eighth in QB-independent Elo.9I.e., the team’s adjusted Elo rating if Brees were to be replaced with an average starter at quarterback. As for the Falcons, Matt Ryan is No. 2 in our QB rankings, but the rest of the team ranks 25th in QB-independent Elo. That’s more an indictment of a defense that ranks 23rd in preseason projected FPI than an offense that still includes hyper-productive WR Julio Jones, but Atlanta is hoping that a coaching staff of all new coordinators can help Ryan. The Panthers are still only three seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance, but they’ve gone exactly 24-24 since then. Elo calls for more of the same this season, with an 8-8 projected record, although Carolina does have the No. 10 QB in our rankings (Cam Newton) and a respectable 38 percent chance of getting back to the playoffs. Finally, the Buccaneers are hoping to end the franchise’s postseason drought at 11 seasons — but they need to improve on last year’s horrid defensive performance and get more consistency from both Jameis Winston and a passing attack that had the third-highest game-to-game QB Elo variance10Trailing only the Rams and the Nathan Peterman-led Bills. of any team in 2018. How we’re predicting the AFC South race ChicagoM. Trubisky+1215669.152%37%5% How we’re predicting the AFC West race The playoffs are different. We found that differences in talent between opposing teams tend to be amplified in the NFL postseason, so now Elo differentials are multiplied by 1.2 before computing the expected win probabilities and point spreads for playoff games.Altogether, these changes improved our historical predictions by quite a bit in backtesting, so we’re feeling confident that our 2019 picks will be better than ever before.6You might notice that we don’t have a dedicated factor for defense included in the model. For one thing, defense would implicitly be part of a team’s non-quarterback Elo rating; for another thing, it was difficult to find specific defensive variables (such as coordinators) which improved predictive accuracy — perhaps because defense is notoriously difficult to predict between seasons. For cases below where we do need to refer to a team’s projected defensive quality, we used ESPN’s Football Power Index projections for the upcoming season.And what are those picks, exactly? Let’s run down what our Elo model thinks of each division in the NFL, starting with… Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN How we’re predicting the NFC West race What would Vegas do? In the past, our preseason ratings would simply be each team’s final rating from the previous season, reverted to the league’s average Elo rating by one-third. But our new system also incorporates ratings derived from a team’s over/under win total according to the Las Vegas sportsbooks, giving those twice the weight of mean-reverted Elo when setting a team’s preseason rating. Chance To… The Rams are coming off a Super Bowl run, and there were times last season when they looked unbeatable, not least because of a GOAT-level performance by defensive lineman Aaron Donald. But with questions remaining about QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley — to say that neither were major factors in the playoffs would be an understatement — L.A. might be due for a regression, even if Elo does still consider the Rams division favorites. A number of signs point to a decline, from L.A.’s 6-1 record in close games last year and favorable bounces in recovering fumbles, to a more difficult schedule and even the possibility of adverse effects due to more injuries. Elo thinks the Rams’ point differential will drop from +143 to +58 this season. Behind them, the Seahawks have the division’s best (slash only above-average) Elo QB in Russell Wilson, and they did some offseason shuffling — Clowney and Ziggy Ansah will replace Frank Clark on the pass rush, for example. But Seattle mostly looks like the same good-but-not-great team it was last season. The 49ers will get a do-over with Jimmy Garoppolo after the QB was injured three games into the 2018 season. But is Jimmy G. any good? Elo’s still not sure. It ranks Garoppolo 22nd among starters heading into 2019, despite his hefty price tag. All three of those teams could potentially contend for the division, though. For the Cardinals, that looks like a long shot at best with the tandem of rookie QB Kyler Murray and first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Elo gives Arizona the worst rating and tied for the lowest playoff odds of any team in the NFL this season. read more

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