Mad Chemist: Think Tank

By
Updated: November 21, 2013

Conspiracy theorists are already whispering that the Atlanta Falcons are deliberately throwing their 2013 regular season — and that team owner Arthur Blank is in on it.

As the fortunes of teams have faltered this year under the strain of bad coaching, bad quarterbacking and bad breaks, we have begun to a loud chorus of fans call for their teams to tank so that they can acquire a high draft pick.

There is much debate on the validity of this reasoning.

Some people say it is smart to lose out if the playoffs are beyond reach. They argue that losing a couple of games now in an already lost year can reap tenfold the wins in the future.

Others say that competitors can’t just try to lose. It goes against the fiber of their being.

I argue, moreover, that the act of attempting to lose is in fact counterproductive. The minor advantage gained from the increase in draft odds is wiped out by the losing mentality it engenders in the players, who are robbed of a fair evaluation by the coaching staff and general manager. They’re also put at greater risk of injury when they fail to give a full effort against big, strong men.

I find it more than curious that the loudest proponents of tanking this year are fans of the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers. Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings fans have suffered equally disappointing seasons yet seem not nearly as vocal in rooting for their teams to concede.

My take is that Green Bay and Atanta fans have been blessed with winning teams for so long that they are grasping for positives in a down year, whereas Minnesota and Tampa Bay fans have been down this road many times and realize that a high draft pick is no panacea.

Does tanking work?

Ignoring trades, the fifth overall pick in the draft is almost always owned by a four- or five-win team. Since 2002, the 10th pick has most commonly gone to a team with six or seven wins and never to a team with fewer than five.

A team that successfully tanked its way to four or fewer wins, therefore, would pick in the top five. To gain some historical perspective, let’s look at how draft picks between 1990 and 2004 panned out.

Draft Position 1-5 6-10 11-15 16-20
Pro Bowl appearances 174 139 100 74
First-team All-Pros 20 23 11 10
First-team All-Pro
appearances
47 45 23 33
Five or more seasons
as starter
54
(72%)
54
(72%)
47
(63%)
47
(63%)

Unless one uses Pro Bowl selections as a barometer of great play, it appears there is virtually no gap between having a top-five pick and drafting in the six-to-10 range.

A “bad” team that could have mustered five or six wins playing their best is not well served by attempting to throw a few games.

Deliberately losing imprints a negative mentality on the players, fans and franchise. It results in lowered attendance, reduced media attention, and loss of revenue through diminished jersey sales and primetime game slots.

Veteran free agents are more easily persuaded to depart for contenders. Fan favorites can even be denied admission to the Hall of Fame due to the ding on their records.

There is more

“Tankers” could argue that the real advantage of tanking is having access to picks earlier in every round.

Yet of the past 17 players to be awarded MVP honors since 1990, only five have been selected in the first five picks of any round. Of those, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning alone accounts for four wins.

Tom Brady was taken with additional picks at the tail end of the sixth round by a team drafting late in the rotation. Steve Young and Kurt Warner were not even selected on draft day.

Rookie of the Year awards have been friendlier to the top selections, accounting for 17 winners since 1990. Five of those have come in the last three seasons: Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Von Miller, and Ndamukong Suh.

I see no compelling evidence that an injury-riddled or poor team is served by going from below average to awful intentionally. So, Atlanta, feel free to make the Saints earn a win tonight.

Meanwhile, the Packers are only one game out of first in the division with games remaining against their challengers. This hardly seems like the time to throw in the towel. That is not behavior of gladiators in the face of adversity.

Speaking of tanking . . .

I wish I could tell you that and I were trying to look this bad on purpose.

Last week had no head-to-head games, so the margin remains the same. Instead we went hand in hand to 0-3 in Week 11.

Platstats sits at 18-24-1, while I am slightly more putrid at 17-25-1.

Pick Line Opponent
Deep Cool Agrees
New York Jets +4 @Baltimore Ravens
Deep Cool Disagrees
Robert's Pick Line Deep Cool's Pick
Tennessee Titans +1 @ Oakland Raiders
New Orleans Saints -9 @Atlanta Falcons
Houston Texans -10 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Thankfully for my sanity and any would-be bettors out there, my other picks are still giving decent results. Last week they were 4-3-2 and are now 33-17-2 (66%) on the season. Here are this week’s picks:

  • Kansas City Chiefs -5 vs. San Diego Chargers
  • Carolina Panthers -4 @ Miami Dolphins
  • San Francisco 49ers -5 @ Washington Redskins
  • Denver Broncos -2.5 @ New England Patriots
  • Green Bay Packers -5 (unless they read this article and decide to tank it) vs. Minnesota Vikings

About the author(s)

A self-described NFL addict and "stats geek," Robert J. Russ loves to demolish conventional wisdom with cold, hard numbers. When reputation doesn't jive with reality, he plows tirelessly through play-by-play charts and statistical tables to separate fact from fiction. A military brat who was born in California, raised in North Carolina, and bounced between the two states through college, Russ has lived in Coastal Carolina since 1990. He owns a small pest-control business and a free fantasy football and NFL betting line website. Feel free to contact him at with questions, comments, or ideas for future articles.

2667 comments
niemerg1
niemerg1

nah guys, the worst thing about porn growing up was waiting for it to fucking download on a 56K in Napster

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

Ok, back to work. The degenerates are thirsty. 

rocketman6969
rocketman6969

Why did Ryan slide at the 6? This is what happened the last time he tried to slide versus the Saints.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

As a Bears fan, I'd love to have negative things to say about Aaron Rodgers, but him raising his hand to wave is a ridiculous thing to talk about. He's already said he's fine except for getting hit could cause more injury. Stupid people.

50CaliberFalconoles
50CaliberFalconoles

And Robert j you can't even compare Ryan and Cam when it comes to character and competitiveness Cam is not even close to Ryan in those regards

Childerz...
Childerz...

Guy's I apologize... I realize I have been typing in caps far to excessively as of late and i'm sorry for that it is rude. 

BlutosPackers
BlutosPackers

I maintain that there is only one thing worth sliding head first into in this world: pussy, non-stanky, good ole pink pussy.


National Punch Prep in the Dick Day 12/16/2013
National Punch Prep in the Dick Day 12/16/2013

If kids ever try that "knockout" game with me, they had better make sure they knock me out. 

I mean, I did some dumb shit as a kid. But never something as dumb and pointless as that. 

There are pranks and then there is causing undo harm to someone for no fucking reason. Kids these days..

Childerz...
Childerz...

 HURRY My MOM GETS HOME IN 20 MINUTES FUCK!!! 18 MINUTES LEFT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

thenichels
thenichels

 n00b.  ASCII porn and a 300 baud cradle modem was the shit!

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

  

Hoping like fuck it downloads before your rooomates get back.

thenichels
thenichels

 I remember that play....screamed many obscenities at the TV for our guy being stupid and giving y'all an extra 15 yards.

Donny33
Donny33

 torn labia minora?

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

  

Wait has this actually been interpreted as a problem of some sort?

G & G
G & G moderator

 White people problems

robertj72
robertj72

I absolutely can and would! I think CAm cares a hell of a lot more. I think Ryan came into the NFL with more maturity and mental acuity. i think he came in with a better coach and supporting cast. But I don't think Ryan comes close to Cam's passion to win and competitiveness. 

BlutosPackers
BlutosPackers

I think both are the equivalent of teets on a bore.

S1L3NT_delusional
S1L3NT_delusional

 I dunno, I feel like Cam is one of those super competitive tryhards. 

Childerz...
Childerz...

FUCK YOU GUYS I WAS BEING FUCKING SINCERE YOU GERIATRIC FUCKS! 

Childerz...
Childerz...

 My slight racism already made me nervous of large groups of black people... my alert level is up 10000x's now 

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

  

You talking about where a kid randomly walks up to you and tries to knock you out?

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

 I have no idea what you're talking about.

niemerg1
niemerg1

  shit. before your mom gets back from the store. because the only computer you have is in the family room

rocketman6969
rocketman6969

  Surprised it didn't include broken ribs. With the season already lost, no reason to risk it happening again when playing a dirty team.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

  Someone posted a tweet about it. Fucking Twitter. Giving a voice to people nobody needs to hear from.

טיילור סוויפט
טיילור סוויפט

People have ridiculed Cutler for leaving the game with a torn knee ligament. They're certainly going to criticize Rodgers for not playing with "just" a chip in his bone.

G & G
G & G moderator

  ESPN will be ALL OVER THIS today

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

  

WHY IN THE FUCK WOULD YOU GO AND DO THAT

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

   

Oh god, that would be the pinnacle of embarrassment right there.

mountaineer4ever
mountaineer4ever

  yeah not on scoring plays though .... you gotta take those chances ...... anywaz .... aint gonna argue .... worked out well for us ...

rocketman6969
rocketman6969

  Exactly, he gets hit enough behind the line, why should he take extra, unnecessary hits?

mountaineer4ever
mountaineer4ever

  oh cmon on ..... you're worried about that when your Ryan is taking so many hits behind the line of scrimmage? ...

G & G
G & G moderator

 Chip in his bone or his shoulder?

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

  

Nah this has something to do with him waving to the crowd at some concert.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

   

No he meant a boring woman.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

  How the fuck would they reach you? Stand on each other's shoulders? 

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

   

I will fuck that kid up. Two times.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

 I found this on LegalMatch, apparently it's a common question...

Can a Person Be Charged With Assault, But Not Battery or Vice Versa?

While assault and battery are often treated as a single act, the two can be mutually exclusive. In other words, one can assault a person without committing a battery. Likewise, a person can commit a battery without assaulting that person. For example, if Bob stabs you from behind without you witnessing the attack, then Bob is committing a battery without an assault.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

 Sure you can. Assault is the threat. If someone just walks up and cold-cocks you, there's no threat of violence.

טיילור סוויפט
טיילור סוויפט

You can't have battery with assault, as far as I know, but you can certainly have assault without battery.