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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 23, 2003
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Tech Professor Predicts NFL Results
According to research by Dr. Roger Johnson, an associate professor of math at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, the Minnesota Vikings will squeak by the San Francisco 49ers this week while the Denver Broncos will squash the Detroit Lions.
Johnson’s predictions are based on a math formula that combines a number of factors to numerically rate the strength of each team. After giving the home team extra points for home-field advantage, Johnson subtracts the lower ranking from the higher to find the predicted margin of victory.
Johnson updates team rankings after each week’s games and publishes them on his website, http://www.mcs.sdsmt.edu/rwjohnso/nfl/nflrank.html. Rankings change based on how well or how poorly a team does. Johnson’s formula takes into consideration strength of schedule (teams that beat higher-ranked teams help their rankings improve at a faster pace), blow-outs (running up a score does not help a team’s ranking), and other factors.
Through Week 3 of the 2003 season, Johnson’s formula ranks Kansas City at the top of the NFL heap, with Denver trailing closely behind. The Chicago Bears are buried at the bottom of the list.
Johnson’s NFL research was published in the September 2001 issue of “Math Horizons,” a publication of the Mathematical Association of America. Johnson also uses the research in his math classes at Tech to show his students real-world math applications.
Johnson has applied research to other football statistics. He uncovered the NFL's passer rating formula that ranks quarterbacks who have thrown at least 1,500 passes based on regular-season performance. His most recent table puts former
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young at the top with a rating of 96.8. Young’s predecessor in the 49ers huddle, Joe Montana, lags a few points behind in second.
Johnson published an earlier version of the quarterback research in the “College Mathematics Journal.” He sent the issue to Joe Montana, who was the highest-rated quarterback at the time, and Montana returned the journal with an autograph.
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