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Wiggins, Towns, lead Wolves over Bucks, 116-99

first_imgPH among economies most vulnerable to virus Shanghai officials reveal novel coronavirus transmission modes Parker and Antetokounmpo combined to make 19 of 28 shots, and the Greek Freak had a breathtaking swat against LaVine with the two youngsters one-on-one in the open court.The Wolves were just as dynamic, never more than when Towns swatted a shot from Greg Monroe, sprinted the length of the floor and dunked a lob from Wiggins for an 82-66 lead in the third quarter. And Wiggins put the game away with a soaring dunk over Miles Plumlee in the fourth quarter.“I’d rather lose to the Bulls than lose to this team,” Parker said about the 11-22 Wolves. “It’s not against them, but we’ve got to win these games. We got to. If we want to be good we’ve got to win these games.”When speaking of the Wolves’ youngsters, Muhammad is rarely mentioned these days. He’s struggled mightily on the defensive end, which has made it difficult for him to earn the confidence of coach Tom Thibodeau. But he finally broke out on Friday night, scored 10 of his 22 points in the first quarter and hit his first four 3-pointers to give the Wolves a huge lift one game after their bench managed just eight points in a loss at Denver.“It’s relieving to have one of those performances,” Muhammad said. “I can definitely build on this one.”ADVERTISEMENT View comments Korver, Howard lead Hawks past Pistons, 105-98 Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award02:29Giannis Antetokounmpo powers Bucks in bounce back win over Celtics01:31Taiwan minister boards cruise ship turned away by Japan01:33WHO: ‘Global stocks of masks and respirators are now insufficient’01:01WHO: now 31,211 virus cases in China 102:02Vitamin C prevents but doesn’t cure diseases like coronavirus—medic03:07’HINDI PANG-SPORTS LANG!’03:03SILIP SA INTEL FUND Chinese-manned vessel unsettles Bohol town As fate of VFA hangs, PH and US forces take to the skies for exercise Senators to proceed with review of VFA Smart’s Siklab Saya: A multi-city approach to esports We are youngcenter_img Smart hosts first 5G-powered esports exhibition match in PH EDITORS’ PICK MOST READ Andrew Wiggins scored 31 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 18 points and 16 rebounds to help the Timberwolves beat the Bucks 116-99.Zach LaVine added 24 points and Shabazz Muhammad had 22 points in 18 minutes off the bench for the Wolves, who shot 55.8 percent from the field and hit 13 of 25 3-pointers. LaVine hit 6 of 9 from deep and Muhammad made 4 of 5 3s to help the Wolves outlast Milwaukee.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra teammates show love for SlaughterSPORTSFreddie Roach: Manny Pacquiao is my Muhammad AliSPORTSWe are young“We want to show that we’re the better team with the better young players,” LaVine said. “But you’ve got to respect your opponent at all times. They have great players like we do, but at the end of the day I’m glad we came out with the win.”Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Bucks, who played the first of at least two games without starting point guard Matthew Dellavedova because of a strained hamstring. Jabari Parker scored 20 points for Milwaukee. The Bucks were charging in the fourth quarter, having whittled a 19-point deficit down to 12 when the Wolves inbounded the ball with just 0.3 seconds on the shot clock. LaVine got room, caught the pass and quickly fired a shot that went through, but officials initially ruled a shot clock violation.After a review, it was determined that LaVine did get the shot off in time, giving the Wolves a 101-87 lead.Bucks rookie Malcolm Brogdon started for Dellavedova, and coach Jason Kidd said the team would need to make no adjustments with the rookie playing instead of the veteran. Kidd said Brogdon was having one of the two best rookie seasons in the league this year alongside Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid. The 24-year-old Brogdon was the sixth pick in the second round out of Virginia.“He’s a special rookie,” Kidd said.Brogdon had 11 points, four rebounds and four assists.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Where did they go? Millions left Wuhan before quarantine Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins, center, dunks over Milwaukee Bucks center Miles Plumlee (18) as Bucks forward Michael Beasley (9) looks on in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, in Minneapolis. APMINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota—The Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks have two of the most promising groups of young stars in the NBA.Minnesota’s core shined just a little brighter Friday nightADVERTISEMENT Chinese-manned vessel unsettles Bohol townlast_img read more

Local champions to compete at Wisconsin State Horseshoe Tournament

first_imgFor Hub City TimesMARSHFIELD — The 94th Wisconsin State Horseshoe Tournament will be held Sept. 3 and 4 at the Mosinee Rec Center, 701 11th St. in Mosinee. The event is free of charge and welcome to all spectators. Play runs from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday.This year’s competition will feature roughly 150 participants, including in the women’s championship class defending state champion Aleena (Cook) Lepak, a Stratford native who has won eight state titles, and in the junior boys championship class is defending state champion Gunnar David from Marshfield, who has won five state titles.The 2017 Wisconsin State Horseshoe Tournament will be held in Beloit, home of the Wisconsin Horseshoe Pitching Hall of Fame.Anyone who would like more information on horseshoe pitching, building a horseshoe court, or locating a nearby horseshoe club is encouraged to visit the Wisconsin Horseshoe Pitchers Association website at whpahorseshoes.com or call the association’s president, Gary Volz, at 608-444-8563.last_img read more

Joburg, Clinton climate initiatives

first_img4 January 2008A unique relationship is developing between the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) and the City of Johannesburg, with the former committing substantial funding and technical support to help Johannesburg to become an energy-efficient, environmentally friendly city.CCI is a partnership between the Clinton Foundation and the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group (known as the C40), which aims to take practical and measurable steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency in large cities across the world. Usually, the foundation prefers to provide non-financial assistance.In July, the City launched its energy efficiency programme, which includes the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system, the energy efficiency building retrofit programme, and the solar streetlight township electrification programme. The latter two are in pilot phase.Know-howIn all of these initiatives, the CCI is providing technical assistance to Johannesburg, especially as far as energy efficient procurement, information support on technology and products, and financial and cost analysis are concerned.But the City has also received grant assistance from the CCI. Firstly, the foundation provided a grant to hire the Institute for Transportation Development and Policy (ITDP), a leading international organisation promoting environmentally sustainable and equitable transportation worldwide, to develop the design and operational plan for Rea Vaya.The operational transport plan was submitted to the City in July. “According to the ITDP, Rea Vaya will reduce 311 586 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the current ‘do nothing’ scenario,” a progress report on the partnership confirmed.Secondly, a grant was provided to hire a climate change and cleaner production deputy director for the City. The chair was filled in November.At the same time, the environmental management department gained the technical assistance of an acting director for project support, appointed by the Clinton initiative to give support in the implementation of joint City-CCI projects.“The Clinton Foundation has established a unique relationship with Johannesburg due to the City’s aggressive 2010 climate change goals and the executive mayor’s leadership in the C40 and International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives,” the executive director for environmental management, Flora Mokgohloa, stated in the report.So far, Johannesburg has received technical assistance from the foundation for waste management, energy efficiency, performance-based procurement and its operational transportation plan.The relationship between the two has strengthened since the foundation approached the City to form a partnership to fight climate change.In May 2007, Executive Mayor Amos Masondo joined a group of some 30 business and local government leaders in New York to discuss the role cities can play in reducing climate change. Called the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit, it was only the second summit of this nature to be held. The first was held in London in 2005.At that time the summit group also entered into a partnership with the CCI, led by former United States president Bill Clinton. The CCI assists by pooling the buying power of cities, mobilising expert assistance and facilitating the sharing of information about successful and replicable programmes.Key initiativesThe CCI hopes to reduce energy use in buildings worldwide through a landmark new programme and the City of Johannesburg has come on board, signing agreements to join the fight against climate change.A new procurement and financial model for 12 council-owned buildings is now in pilot phase, in which energy use will be drastically reduced through a number of measures. The pilot buildings are in Dobsonville, Ennerdale, Jabulani, Lenasia, Meadowlands, Newtown, Sandton, the Metro Centre, Museum Africa, Putco, the Roodepoort City Hall and Roodepoort Civic Centre.“It is the City’s intention to expand the programme to retrofit as many public buildings as possible by 2010,” Mokgohloa said. She stressed that the programme went far above and beyond lighting retrofits; it included boiler and chiller plant optimisation; improvements to electrical systems; roof, window and building improvements; and indirectly through procurement savings, among other things.A second initiative will look at solar power, still underutilised in sunny South Africa. City Power is identifying areas where solar street lighting can be implemented and appropriate technologies used. A flexible photovoltaic system, which can be laminated to most structures, is being explored and City Power is working closely with the CCI to plan a possible roll out.Lessons learned and alternative approaches are being looked at together with Beka, the company that was responsible for the Zandspruit solar street lighting pilot project.Apart from assistance with the BRT operational plan, the CCI is working with the City’s transportation department to analyse various propulsion systems and fuel types. The CCI is also exploring price discounts for BRT buses for C40 cities. A traffic congestion workshop will be held in December where C40 cities will share experiences in hybrid diesel and ethanol buses, station design, fare collection and financing.Another energy efficiency possibility is a landfill gas-to-energy project, with a report recently completed in which the eight proposal bids for gas extraction were evaluated. The project entails the trapping of the methane gas, generated as a result of landfill decomposition, into gas wells and then flaring or using the gas to generate electricity.Four open landfill sites, at Goudkoppies, Robinson Deep, Marie Louise and Ennerdale, and six closed landfill sites, at Linbro Park, Kya Sands, Mapetla, Panorama, Waterval, Meredale, in Johannesburg were identified to have good potential for gas extraction.Cities consume three quarters of the world’s energy and account for 75 percent of global carbon emissions. Delegates at the 2007 C40 summit agreed that “the fight against climate change will therefore be won or lost in cities”.The C40 cities, of which Johannesburg is one, have publicly declared that “the world’s largest cities have a critical role to play in the reduction of carbon emissions and the reversal of dangerous climate change”.They are Addis Ababa, Athens, Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Caracas, Chicago, Delhi, Dhaka, Hanoi, Houston, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Karachi, Lagos, Lima, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Mexico City, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto and Warsaw. There are also 12 affiliate cities.Source: City of Johannesburglast_img read more

Hour of Code – a walkthrough for teachers

first_imgIf you would like to receive further updates on events like the Hour of Code and other topics at the cutting edge of Ed tech then sign up to our Intel Education newsletter. Teachers can also sign up to our Teachers Engage platform where you’ll find discussion, resources and lesson plans related to digital citizenship and dozens of other topics – all for free.We’d also love to hear from you via our Twitter or Facebook pages. If you’re one of the 200,000 people who follow our Twitter feed, you may have seen that this week is Computer Science Education Week. As part of this, code.org runs its Hour of Code campaign designed to get people everywhere to participate in a coding session. Over 2,000 of these are taking place this week in the UK alone, and the website contains everything even the most code-phobic teachers need to get started. Edutopia has another great piece with a roundup of resources.If you’re still wary about taking the plunge, why not check out this ten-minute video from Deb Norton. As Deb says: “For many educators, committing to doing an hour of code with our students can take us a bit out of our comfort zone because we haven’t experienced coding before.” Never fear! She’ll walk you through what she does in her Wisconsin classroom using a website called CodeHS. Her other tutorials can be found here.last_img read more

8 days agoRoma ahead of Arsenal as Rugani fed-up at Juventus

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Roma ahead of Arsenal as Rugani fed-up at Juventusby Carlos Volcano8 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveDaniele Rugani is ready to leave Juventus in January.Sportmediaset says the defender has lost patience with his situation in Turin.Rugani hasn’t played a minute under coach Maurizio Sarri. If the situation should remain like this, he will make a transfer request in the New Year.Roma are favourites to sign the defender.Rugani came close to joining Arsenal in August before getting cold feet. last_img read more

Author John U. Bacon Says 3 NFL Head Coaches Expressed Interest In the Michigan Job

first_imgMichigan players run out under the GO Blue banner.IG/umathleticsAuthor and Michigan alum John U. Bacon’s latest book entitled “Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football” chronicles the tenure of former Michigan AD Dave Brandon and head coach Brady Hoke and looks ahead to the Wolverine program under Jim Harbaugh. Bacon is doing an AMA on Reddit today and dropped a very interesting piece of info on the coaching search that produced Harbaugh. According to Bacon, Harbaugh was always the choice but that three NFL coaches expressed interest in the position. It’s unclear if Harbaugh is one of the three or if there were three others besides him.Per @Johnubacon, 3 NFL head coaches expressed interest in the Michigan job; join the AMA: https://t.co/SsPSlKW6Mk pic.twitter.com/9uFztjukbg— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) August 30, 2015Bacon also dropped some other tasty tidbits in his AMA, saying he thinks it will take three or four years for Harbaugh to have Michigan in the conversation for a CFP berth and further confirming that Lloyd Carr isn’t a fan of Les Miles. The whole thread is interesting and can be found here.last_img read more

Keeseekoose First Nation elders spark RCMP investigation into band council

first_imgKenneth JacksonAPTN National NewsThe RCMP has confirmed to APTN National News that it has launched an investigation on Keeseekoose First Nation in Saskatchewan after two elders came forward providing a stack of financial documents.The investigation is in the early stages said Sgt. Rob Laurent of the RCMP’s Yorkton detachment.“We do have an investigation that is ongoing,” said Laurent.Laurent confirmed the investigation is based on complaints made from elders and the documents they provided.Elders Frances Musqua, 70, and Seraphine Straightnose, 71, met with Laurent Aug. 21 and provided him with over 150 pages of financial documents, including receipts and records of large cheques connected the band’s co-manager Edwin Chalupiak and his Regina-based companies Dynamic Management Solutions and Chalupiak and Associates, as well as the band’s director of operations Chris Lafontaine.Chalupiak and Lafontaine have refused to answer questions from APTN citing confidentiality but Chalupiak said the council has launched its own investigation into how “confidential” documents were leaked from the band office.He claimed to have spoken to Laurent and copied the officer on an email to APTN.“He also indicated to me that neither (Dynamic) Management Solutions Inc. or Chalupiak & Associates is under investigation,” wrote Chalupiak. “Any reference to the investigation involving these entities will be misleading, and these entities will suffer damages due to the reporting of incorrect information.”APTN tried to confirm Chalupiak’s comments with Laurent but he didn’t respond to a message left at his office or an email. He also didn’t respond to Chalupiak’s email.Straightnose said she called Laurent and told APTN the officer confirmed he spoke to Chalupiak but it’s against RCMP policy to confirm who is, or not, a subject of an investigation.Straightnose first went to the RCMP after she learned the band’s director of operations had cut two large cheques while the band membership was celebrating Treaty Days on May 17-18, where each member gets a symbolic $5.The one cheque was for $124,944 and the other $50,000 according to documents provided to APTN.There are records of other large cheques and receipts for band membership assistance and housing repairs included in the RCMP documents.“Somebody said they were making cheques on Treaty Day. That’s what really upset me,” Straightnose told APTN, as to why she went to the RCMP.Laurent said because of the large volume of documents the RCMP intends to ask Indigenous Affairs to launch a financial review of the band to assist the investigation.“That is going to be one of the avenues of the investigation we’re going at. It’s just I haven’t gotten to that part, yet,” he said.Keeseekoose First Nation is nearly 300 kilometres northeast of Regina and about 700 people live on reserve according to Indigenous Affairs.The complaint to the RCMP was the boiling point of frustration brewing in the months prior over Chalupiak and Lafontaine.Chalupiak was brought on to be the band’s co-manager, or recipient-appointed advisor, on Nov. 1, 2015 as INAC found the band to be in default of its finances. A contract was signed with Chalupiak’s company Dynamic Management Solutions which gave the company primary authority over finances.The deal provided Dynamic $10,000 a month, plus expenses.In a separate contract, Lafontaine is paid approximately $15,000 a month.Soon after the band council signed the contract with Dynamic, seven members of council told APTN their wages were scaled back and in the summer of 2016, the council of 12 was effectively laid off by Chalupiak for several months, while Chief Lyndon Musqua continued to be paid.By the fall of 2016, Musqua and several councillors wanted Chalupiak and Lafontaine gone according to recordings of meetings provided to APTN, along with interviews with several of the councillors and Musqua. But on April 24, 2017, seven councillors agreed to extend Chalupiak and Lafontaine’s contracts in band council resolutions (BCRs) signed by the councillors in Chalupiak’s Regina office.Musqua was not present at the meeting and claims the meeting was illegal because the band’s custom election act stipulates all meetings have to be called by the chief.Musqua was able to have those BCRs rescinded in May, which was when Lafontaine had the large cheques made out at the band office during Treaty Days.The description on the cheques, according to documents from the band office, said the one for $50,000 was for breaching Lafontaine’s contract, and the other paid out Lafontaine’s salary for the year in advance.Musqua said he tried to determine if the cheques were cashed and called the Bank of Montreal to find out.However, staff at the bank said they weren’t authorized to give the chief any information and could only speak to Dynamic.This all played out during a council meeting on June 20 with Chalupiak and Lafontaine in attendance. The meeting was audio recorded and provided to APTN.“I still got no clarity if the cheques going around were cashed or not,” says Musqua during the meeting. “I asked if they were cashed. Show us.”Later in the meeting, Chalupiak says the cheques were voided, while Lafontaine says the cheques were made as a “lesson” of the consequences the band would face if they breached his contract.“The simple fact they were made – the intent was there – is disturbing enough,” Musqua says. “That’s what upsets me.”The next month, Chalupiak’s contract was renewed for another year by nine councillors.Then Straightnose went to the RCMP with the support of Musqua.“I am not going to back down. I’m not,” she said.Contact Kenneth here: [email protected]last_img read more

Skeptical Football The Playoffs Are A Trial By Fire

While the wild-card round of this year’s NFL playoffs was wild, a lot of the action followed familiar scripts: Skeptical Football regular Andrew Luck continued to impress in the Indianapolis Colts’ win against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Detroit Lions jumped out to a big lead — uncomfortable territory for gunslinger extraordinaire Matthew Stafford — against the Dallas Cowboys and, sure enough, Tony Manning Romo successfully engineered a double-digit comeback victory — though possibly with a little help from the officials. The Carolina Panthers brought their record back to (exactly) .500 for the first time since October against the Carson Palmer-less Arizona Cardinals. And the Baltimore Ravens beat high-flying Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, on the road.But while the wild-card games were a nice diversion, the big guns will only come out after the bye.This weekend will see the playoff debuts of last year’s Super Bowl participants, the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos and the potentially historic Seattle Seahawks, along with the ever-contending New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers’ enigmatic Aaron Rodgers.1As we know, a New England vs. Green Bay Super Bowl matchup is inevitable.At this stage of the playoffs, there are an equal number of bye teams and wild-card game alums. Not only are the bye teams better-rested and more accomplished, but they have home-field advantage — both this week and against any surviving non-bye teams in the conference championships. So our eventual Super Bowl winner will almost certainly come from that cohort, right?If recent history is a guide, the answer is no. The wild-card veterans have more than held their own, winning seven of the past 14 Super Bowl trophies.Consider what this takes: First, having just won a game for the right to make the final eight, a team has to turn around and play a fresh top-two seed in the divisional round — on the road. And if it wins that game, more often than not it has to play the other top seed — on the road. And if it wins again, more often than not it has to play one of the other conference’s top seeds in the Super Bowl.Compare that to the route a bye team takes: It plays only two playoff games before the Super Bowl, and at least one of them is at home, against a lower seed.While anyone with a rooting interest would prefer his team take the easier road, teams that do manage to survive the playoffs’ “trial by fire” are disproportionately successful the deeper into the postseason they get.This chart goes back to the introduction of the salary cap in 1994. Prior to the 1997 John Elway-led Broncos victory, few teams survived the trial by fire (“TBF”) for long (i.e., none made the Super Bowl), so I typically consider that the start of the TBF era.As we would expect, a large share of TBF teams (meaning wild-card round veterans) are eliminated by their higher-seeded opponents right away. Over the entire period, TBFers won just 24 of 80 divisional round games (30.0 percent). And in the TBF era, including 1997, they’ve done only slightly better, winning 21 of 64 games (32.8 percent).But if they survive that second game, all bets are off. Since 1997, of those 21 TBF teams who made it to the conference championship games, 17 faced a top-two-seeded bye team on the road (the other four faced each other). The TBF teams in that scenario won 9 of the 17 games (52.9 percent) they played.2I should also note that the overall 45 percent win rate in this round in the salary cap era is still extremely high for road teams against higher-seeded competition. That’s right, TBFers who made the conference round have won a majority of their games against bye teams, despite playing in hostile territory.Those nine all faced another top-two seed from the other conference in the Super Bowl — such as the New York Giants against the then 18-0 New England Patriots in 2007 — and seven of nine triumphed. Overall, TBF teams have an 8-3 record in Super Bowls (in the salary cap era), including a 6-1 record in their last seven appearances.That one losing team was the Arizona Cardinals,3One of the TBF teams that had to beat another TBF team in its conference championship rather than beating both top seeds. who lost 27-23 against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009, but covered the 6.5-point spread. TBF teams have gone 10-0-1 against the spread in Super Bowls, and 11-6 in conference championships since 1997.That stunning 21-6-1 record against the line is meaningful even if you’re not a sports bettor. It means that this phenomenon isn’t just an artifact of stronger teams happening to be lower seeds for incidental reasons. TBFers legitimately exceeded expectations — even market expectations.It also makes it fairly unlikely that the phenomenon is purely a result of chance. The probability of going 21-6 on what should be a 50/50 proposition is roughly 0.002, or about 1 in 500.Of course, 1-in-500 events happen all the time, so it could just be that these teams have gotten lucky. But the probability that an unlikely phenomenon results from something other than chance is proportional to how plausible the other explanations are. If a coin comes up tails on 21 of 27 flips, you say “wow,” but the coin is still unlikely to be weighted. But say a tennis player wins 21 of 27 matches — she could have gotten lucky, but a more likely explanation is that she’s good.And in this case — while perhaps not accounting for all the good fortune TBF teams have seen — there are plenty of reasons to expect the TBF phenomenon to exist and persist.4Though I would expect the market to adjust accordingly.The first reason — at which I’ve already strongly hinted — is that, by virtue of the tougher road that TBF teams face to get deeper into the playoffs, their continued presence tells us more about their quality than that of their bye-having opponents.At the very minimum, the team that wins the wild-card round has one more win going into later rounds than its regular-season record. In some cases, this is enough to cover or exceed any gap between it and a higher-seeded team. Such is the case with this year’s Cowboys, who, at 13-4, now possess the best record in football (though they will still be on the road against the Packers). Moreover, that extra win didn’t come against an average NFL team, it came against a playoff team, meaning it’s probably worth a little more than an average win.With each road win against top competition, a TBF team’s pedigree gets stronger and stronger. A lot of teams win a lot of games without ever getting road wins against top teams.Obviously upsets happen, and they don’t always mean that the upsetting team is a secret powerhouse. But such upsets are much more likely to happen if the upsetting team is actually better than previously thought (such as when it’s actually much better than its record or playoff seed would indicate). So as a matter of Bayesian inference, it’s not so shocking that teams that accomplish one seemingly unlikely result may continue to accomplish more.In subsequent rounds, a TBF team’s opposition has also won playoff games, but against weaker opponents and usually at home. Since these are more expected results, they have much less of an impact on our assessment of those teams.As a test case, if the playoffs were seeded completely randomly, we would expect to see this effect: A team that had won three road games would be a favorite over one that had won two home games, simply because winning on the road is harder.And the real case can be much more drastic: By the time we get to the Super Bowl, we may have a TBF team — which got there by winning three road games against the top three teams in its conference — facing off against a bye team that has won only two playoff games, at home, against teams with worse records.The problem with that explanation is that it only gets us so far. With an entire season of games under their belts, the difference between a big underdog and a big favorite shouldn’t be reversible merely as a result of three strong wins versus two mediocre wins.Unless those wins come in games that are substantially more important to our assessment of those teams than normal games.5For a somewhat extreme example: This is what things would be like if team quality in the NFL behaved like a ladder ranking, where each time a team beats a team of higher quality, it assumes the other’s position. Under such circumstances, a team like the 2011 New York Giants would have been a favorite against the 2011 New England Patriots by virtue of having beaten the 15-1 Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional round. Playoff wins seem to be just that.Normally I’m somewhat skeptical of taking whether a team is “hot” or not too seriously. In regular-season contexts, recent performance is typically not much more predictive of future performance than past performance is. But the NFL playoffs appear to be an exception. That the results of playoff games are more indicative of a team’s quality makes sense. It’s easy to speculate on any number of reasons:Playoff rosters are more current, reflecting injuries, trades and the like.Playoff results are unlikely to be affected by the various late-season tactical strategies that teams employ, whether that be “tanking” to get a top draft pick, resting starters to avoid injury and fatigue, etc.Although I reserve my right to skepticism, it’s possible that playoff football actually does have a different nature than regular-season football — whether because playing strong teams entails a different skill set than beating up on scrubs, or because playoff games are more likely to be played in cold weather, or something else.There’s a phenomenon that I think is real by which teams often “save” something for the playoffs or more high-leverage situations in the regular season — such as innovative or “trick” plays.Using a couple of different regression methods to estimate the value of a playoff win relative to a regular-season one, I’ve come up with figures as high as one playoff game being worth three to five regular-season games.6This can be somewhat reproduced by using an Elo system with a very high k (meaning calibrated to adjust very rapidly). But this whole line of analysis is tainted because it’s ex post facto. That is, we already knew there was some effect, because that effect is the reason we’re looking into it. So measuring its strength kind of begs the question.We could just modestly assume a mid-sized multiplier (like each playoff game being worth two to three regular-season games), but before we start artfully reflecting on our priors, it would be nice to have a little more insight into the nature of what’s going on.The league only adopted the 12-team, four-bye playoff structure in 1990, and introduced the salary cap in 1994. The “trial by fire” phenomenon begins to appear in earnest shortly after that, yielding its first Super Bowl contender in 1997, and has seemed to get even stronger in recent years with TBF teams actually winning six of the last nine Super Bowls. The emergence of this effect has coincided with the supposed era of “parity” in the NFL — so it’s tempting to think that it may just result from lower-seeded teams getting stronger. Here’s a comparison of how the winning percentage of TBF teams versus bye teams in each round has changed over time, as well as the winning percentages of TBF teams versus bye teams in the regular season:The difference between a TBF team and a typical bye team in the regular season hasn’t changed much, with bye teams having won those matchups around 70 percent of the time. That seems high, but it’s partly because the bye teams have better records and/or hold head-to-head tiebreakers to get in their position. The key isn’t the raw value, it’s that the trend has remained essentially flat. In other words, “parity” — the bogeyman often used to explain a variety of NFL phenomena — probably isn’t the answer.From the other panes, we can see that the percentage of TBF teams winning in subsequent rounds has risen sharply in each case. Considering the sample sizes, those trends certainly shouldn’t be considered too probative individually, but the consistency between them supports the idea that the importance of playoff games has been on the rise.7We would also expect it to rise more sharply in later stages is because the effect is compounding.Is it reasonable to think that this reflects a real development in the game?I think so. At least anecdotally, I think teams have been getting more strategic about playing for the playoffs, and treating the regular season as more of a qualifying period than an end in its own right. Not only have we seen a lot of resting of players (where QBs like Brett Favre used to take every snap to the bitter end) and tanking, but we’ve also seen things like experimenting with young quarterbacks, and benching reasonably decent ones as a scapegoating maneuver.Also, football has evolved into more of a passing or finesse/strategy game, which may be contributing to teams sometimes being substantially better or worse at different times in the season (for example, if you figure out how to use a previously unheralded third receiver in a particularly effective way, it may transform your offense overnight). And this may make matchups more important as well. When the balance of power between teams rests on intricate relationships of many variables rather than just size and strength, it’s easy to see how matchup problems might hinder a team’s regular-season outcomes, or bolster its playoff ones — depending on whom it faces.But I’m not sure any of this gets us 100 percent of the way there. In fact, virtually nothing explains the status quo over the last 14 years (much less the past nine), wherein divisional road teams have been winning as many (or more) Super Bowls as their home opponents.That is, to some extent, just freaky-deaky. Let me demonstrate by imagining an absurd case: Say there were one single best team in the playoffs, and that team won every game it played, and thus won the Super Bowl 100 percent of the time — and then assume playoff seeding were completely random. Since twice as many teams play in the wild-card round as those that get byes, the Super Bowl winner would end up being a TBFer two-thirds of the time. Thus, under the most absurdly extreme case imaginable, we would still expect the “trial by fire” to produce a champion at the same rate that the real-world trial by fire has over the past nine years.That absurd case is so crazy that it’s very unlikely that the TBF trend will continue as vigorously as it has in recent years. But I wouldn’t expect the phenomenon to go away, either. I expect that teams that win against strong opponents in a playoff environment will continue to be extremely dangerous, regardless of appearances.Sizing up the wild-card winnersOne thing we can do practically and theoretically is to consider what types of teams are most likely to exhibit the TBF power-up effect. So let’s take a gander at this year’s winners in the wild-card round.Dallas and Indianapolis are two division-winners who won in the wild-card round against fairly strong teams (the 11-5 Detroit Lions and 10-5-1 Cincinnati Bengals, respectively), and who weren’t that far behind their rivals to begin with. Counting the playoffs, Indianapolis now has the same number of wins as the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, and as of this moment Dallas has the best record in football (at 13-4). Both the Cowboys and the Colts face tough road games against the Packers at Lambeau and the Mannings in Denver. That makes it less likely that they’ll be picking up the TBF banner — unless they win. The difficulty of these games would make victories in them even more meaningful.The Baltimore Ravens had probably the most impressive win in the bye round against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They also have experience winning championships “the hard way” twice. And they’re playing the Patriots, who have been vulnerable to TBFers before. Since winning their last championship in 2004, the Patriots are only 5-4 against TBF teams as a bye team themselves, most notably losing to the Giants in the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowls, and to the eventual-champion Ravens in the 2012 AFC championship game.Of course, the most fun TBF case would be if the Carolina Panthers somehow kept winning. But at the moment, they haven’t accomplished much. In addition to their awful regular-season record, it’s not clear that beating the Arizona Cardinals without Carson Palmer on the field meant much (the Cards ended up 0-3 with Ryan Lindley starting this year). But if the Panthers somehow pull off a win against the powerhouse Seattle Seahawks this week, watch out!Charts by Reuben Fischer-Baum. read more