What did you learn about the New Orleans Saints today?


Remember when Sesame Street was brought to by letters and numbers?

Here’s a reminder – brought to you by the letter B….

The New Orleans Saints have an official burger, beer, milk, hot sauce, and insurance company.

I wonder what it would be like if media coverage of the New Orleans Saints were sponsored, sort of like Sesame Street, by letters and numbers and concepts.

What would be like if the New Orleans Saints had official ideas?

Here’s an idea that could fit right in: correlation.

There are lots of stories and speculations about the New Orleans Saints repeating as NFL champions.  What if correlation was mentioned as often as Two Dat in those stories?

If so, then readers of those stories might learn that correlation is a useful statistic for measuring the relationship between two variables.  For instance, one variable might be the Saint’s winning percentage last season; and the other variable might be the Saint’s winning percentage in the current season.

How closely, on average, are winning percentages of NFL teams related from one season to the next?  If an NFL team has a really successful season one year, is that team more likely to have a really successful season the next year?

It happens – but not that often.  Here’s a chart.  (Anything below .3 on the chart can be interpreted as “little to no” correlation).


As it turns out, the correlation between an NFL team’s record one year and its record the next year is not that high.  (In contrast, an NBA team’s winning percentage is much more highly correlated from year to year — an indication, in general, of an imbalanced league.  See here.)

This message has been brought to you the statistical concept of correlation.