An average football fan is probably used to the many different game simulations to try and defy linear time progression and engage teams of the past with current teams in fantasy match-ups. CBSSports.com is taking this concept to the roll of Super Bowl Champions, and has a seeded, single-elimination tournament that will run throughout this week, in the end, crowning a Super Champion of all Super Champions.
What makes this slightly different and more compelling is the foundation of Strat-o-matic.com as the simulator. Strat-o-matic makes the claim of being the original fantasy sports company, and they have a strong argument, seeing as how they have existed long before the internet and cellphones and fantasy football betting sites engaged in legal turmoil. They use real-life statistics for real-life players and allow the player to make strategy decisions and experience the outcome based on statistics.
The ease of play, realism and statistical accuracy of our games earn us exceptional loyalty…we combine statistical realism with life-like strategy decisions in games that can be completed in a small fraction of the time it takes to watch a real game. --Strat-O-Matic.com
This is NOT an ad for strat-o-matic, I am simply giving you the background of why this simulation is worth a looksee.
Round One happened Monday. The Baltimore Ravens have two teams in the tourney; the 2000 team and the 2012 team. Here is the initial seeding:
Right off the bat, Ravens fans can question the seeding. The 2012 team is #48. So, out of all of the Super Bowl Champs, the CBS Sports team feels that Ray Lewis's Ravens were better than only two teams. The 2000 team is #26. This team is solidly in the argument for best defensive team ever. EVER. Do you think that status merits a higher ranking than middle-of-the-pack? NFL.com had a similar tourney in 2012, but the results were based on fan vote. In that one, the 2000 Ravens made it all the way to the Championship game, and lost to the 1976 Oakland Raiders in a close and questionable decision.
Do I sound like a disenfranchised Ravens fan already? I'l do you one better. Let's get to the initial results.
The '92 Cowboys were quite good. They were the first of the dynasty Cowboy teams. But Ray Lewis' Ravens hadn't allowed a 100 yard rusher in seasons, plural. How is Emmitt Smith supposed to dominate this team?! Is he really the type of runner that could give those Ravens fits? At least the score was close, giving credence to my claim of mis-seeding. This should have been a blowout, right?
For the other game....
...I present to you, the height of irony. A revenge match of sorts, the 2000 Ravens best the 1976 Raiders with a sweet McAlister interception TD to seal it. That Raider team was very good--they were 13-1, and smacked the one team that beat them (New England) in the regular season when a playoff rematch came around. They beat the Terry Bradshaw-Franco Harris-Lynn Swann-Mean Joe Greene Steelers in the playoffs, 24-7. For the Ravens to hold them to 136 yards passing seems like a fitting homage to that 2000 team. The surprising thing was the offensive output. If you ponder it, Shannon Sharpe truly would be a match-up problem for a lot of the old school teams. Shoot, he would be one today!
The bracket for round two looks like this:
Yes, you're seeing that correctly. The 2000 Ravens have to face the 1984 49ers. Yes, they were 15-1. (What is it with the Ravens facing all of the one loss teams?!?!) Yes, they had Joe Montana. But NO, they did not have Jerry Rice. Their leading receiver was Roger Craig, a HB! Purely West Coast Offense-driven, this team was a machine. Notable is that the one loss came to an AFC North team: The Pittsbaurgh Steelers. And the 2000 Ravens were not going to be beaten by dinking and doinking. The 4 teams that beat them had strong running games and a relatively strong defensive identity: Tennessee, Washington led by Norv Turner, Pittsburgh, and Miami--yes, Miami, led by Dave Wannstedt, former Dallas D-Coordinator. I just think the physical match up would have intimidated and stopped the 49ers. The software will respect their stats, but their leading rusher is worth an asterisk: he had 15 fumbles. Wendell Tyler. He struck fear into the hearts of exactly no one. I just wonder if the strat-o-matic system will factor in some of these intangibles.
The statistically best defense the 49ers faced that year was Cleveland. The 2000 Ravens gave up approximately 700 fewer yards than that team. 2.7 yards per rush given up, 10 points a game, a whopping 24% of drives resulting in turnovers by the other team. That defense was a weapon. With Wendell Tyler's fumbles, and their defense not being airtight--even with Hall-of-Famer Ronnie Lott--I think the Ravens could pull off the upset. The best passer they faced stats-wise may have been Oakland's Rich Gannon, who had 28 TDs to 11 Ints. 1984 Joe Montana had 28 TDs to 10 Ints. The Ravens held Gannon to a field goal. I'm just sayin'. Stats, you need to work both ways. I'm calling you out, Strat-O-Matic.com!!
RAVENS 17 49ers 12
Click in tomorrow and we'll see what the strat-stats decided. If the Ravens can get by this round, 1)they can beat anyone and 2)the next match-up is necessarily a Steelers team! Let's GO!