Nate Silver is a smart due. He is a statistical analyst, writer, and distinguished member of the commentariat. Silver has become a household name in the last few years based on his political/ statistical projections and predictions, but he has also very well know for his usage of sabermetrics in the baseball realm.
Silver's website, FiveThirtyEight, is one of those websites you could spend an evening diving into and come back out on the other side much smarter. For all intents and purposes, we can all agree he is smarter than your average bear.
Silver's website recently published an article --link HERE-- about the greatest NFL teams of all-time, based on something called Elo ratings. I'd never heard of that, so a quick Google search sent me to its Wikipedia page. You can read about Elo HERE.
But something is wrong with this article, and I noticed it right away. They have the 1985 Chicago Bears team ranked #7 of all-time. 7th!
The Elo rating, as longtime FiveThirtyEight football readers will recall, is our pet metric for evaluating a team's skill level at any given moment. Elo is hardly the only power rating in town, but we like it because it's a relatively simple algorithm1 with an elegant, endlessly customizable2 design that makes the most of the information it receives.
Ahead of the Greatest Team in the History of the Universe, the had:
1- 2007 Patriots
2- 2004 Patriots
3- 1942 Bears (respect)
4- 1998 Broncos
5- 1989 49ers
6- 1973 Dolphins
Editor's note: The 2006 Chicago Bears team ranked 303rd, and the 2014 Bears ranked. 1,460th.
Granted, the 1942 Chicago team was pretty amazing, in its own right. They went undefeated that season, blowing out opponents all season long by double digits, and actually only gave up two touchdowns total in their final six games of the year.
We don't want to take anything away from the Patriots- unless they were winning through cheating- but if everything they did was above board, then we can credit them as being really good football teams.
But to imply that those Patriot teams were better than the 1985 Chicago Bears is just silly. And to imply that the great 1998 Broncos team and 1973 Dolphins team were better than the '85 Bears? Flat out ludicrous.
The 1985 had five future Hall of Famers-- Mike Ditka, Walter Payton, Mike Singletary, Dan Hampton, Richard Dent-- and seven players went on the be coaches in the NFL.
The 1985 Chicago Bears are generally always considered the greatest team of all-time, with a few arguments sometimes considered for the 1972 Dolphins, who went undefeated that year.
We don't know what an Elo rating is, but can confirm unequivocally that it is working with flawed data.
What are your thoughts on the 1985 Bears being ranked the 7th best of all time?