Can The Eagles Beat The Bears? Can Houston Stop Andrew Luck?

sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, assistant sports editor): The NFL’s 2018 regular season is finally in the books. Before the playoffs get rolling, let’s look back on an interesting Week 17 and preview next weekend’s wild-card round. We’ll end with giving our Super Bowl predictions again, just to keep us honest.

Salfino (Michael Salfino, contributor): I will have to revise my Saints-Steelers Super Bowl pick.

sara.ziegler: LOL

The AFC had all the drama yesterday, so let’s start with the Ravens/Steelers/Colts/Titans business.

neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): I was very much hoping for that Colts-Titans tie. But alas.

sara.ziegler: If the NFL were scripted, we would have ended the regular season on a tie.

neil: Particularly this of all regular seasons.

Salfino: What’s interesting to me about the Ravens is that teams are not punishing Lamar Jackson for running.

joshua.hermsmeyer (Josh Hermsmeyer, NFL analyst): I’m unclear on why teams don’t force Jackson to beat them with his arm as well. It’s worked in the past against other highly mobile QBs, and there seems to be no great reason why it won’t work again.

neil: That’s part of what makes the Ravens so interesting, that their second-half playoff push basically coincided with the QB change and this rush-heavy identity that seems so different in a league that set new records for passing in 2018.

Salfino: Yes, the Ravens and the Chiefs are the offenses you really can’t prepare for in a week, IMO. I have no idea how a team can prepare for Jackson in one week. But LAC at least just faced him. Is that advantage Chargers? To me this is the most interesting game of the wild-card round.

sara.ziegler: The Ravens nearly let Sunday’s game slip away, though.

Salfino: The problem is that it’s so hard to stay disciplined and not chase him. Defenses are taught to be aggressive.

Jackson allows the offense to play 11 on 11, and all of defense is predicated on the defense playing 11 on 10.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Also strange is that we can make legit comps between Jackson and Josh Allen. Bill Belichick kept Allen in the pocket during Week 16 knowing the main danger he poses is from his legs. And New England won.

Salfino: Yes, the Patriots are just taught to be super disciplined so they can counter that probably better than most teams.

sara.ziegler: Did the Browns figure that out a little bit too against Jackson? The Ravens rushed for 8.5 yards per carry in the first half and just 4.5 in the second.

Salfino: Maybe as the game wore on, but by then the damage was done. The Browns were just getting gashed. The Ravens were running on 3rd-and-long and converting. It was like a college game — old-school college before the passing explosion.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Credit as well to the play-calling, I think. It’s a very creative scheme the Ravens are rolling out.

Salfino: Is the Ravens defense overrated? Where are the blue chip players? They are just coached so well. Wink Martindale should get interviews.

neil: And Jackson’s own speed is really something to behold. On that first TD Jackson scored, it looked like he was shot out of a cannon.

Salfino: Jackson also looked like he was playing at video game speed even on the shorter second TD run. He just darted into the end zone like everyone was standing still.

I think the Ravens offense is underrated and their defense is overrated.

sara.ziegler: In the other afternoon AFC game of note, the Steelers came out incredibly flat before rallying for the win, which wasn’t quite enough.

neil: Pittsburgh’s season will go down as one of the all-time collapses, I think?

Salfino: The Steelers have to be the most disappointing team in recent memory. They were top 10 in all the key defensive stats except interception percentage — which is fluky, but man that killed them. They have Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 5,000 yards, two All-Pro WRs, and the running game was fine. Yet they just blew one game after the other.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Antonio Brown has been inefficient this year, but he was missed.

Salfino: The Steelers were sixth in yards per play and sixth in yards allowed per play and didn’t make the playoffs. This is almost impossible. I thought it was impossible.

neil: After Week 11, we gave them a 97 percent chance of making the playoffs.

sara.ziegler: I was surprised all season that they were as high in Elo as they were.

Salfino: Being third in sack rate and 28th in interception rate defies conventional wisdom that pressure creates turnovers. Maybe PIT was super unlucky, too.

sara.ziegler: They reeled off six wins in a row, but they never looked dominant.

neil: Some of that was probably residual, Sara, from last year, when they had Le’Veon Bell, etc. But the narrative all first half was how they didn’t need Bell.

sara.ziegler: Yeah, and James Conner filled in well for them!

Salfino: Is MIN more disappointing than PIT? This is going to be a brutal offseason for Kirk Cousins. No player in memory is going to be under more pressure than he will be next year.

neil: This is a fraught question for Sara ….

sara.ziegler: I can’t even talk about it.

neil: Yep.

sara.ziegler: Well, Mike, we all know how well Cousins does with pressure.

neil: 😬

Salfino: I really thought Cousins was a franchise QB. He did pretty well with just garbage offensive talent in 2017 in WAS, and this year he just never really could get it going. He played so tight.

neil: Sunday was sort of symbolic of the whole 2018 Vikings.

They controlled their destiny at home (granted against the Bears).

Cousins goes 4-for-11 for 2.1 yards per attempt and two sacks on third and fourth down.

Terrible overall performance.

Salfino: It seemed like Cousins averaged about a yard per attempt. If I were the coach of the Vikings, I’d tell him to take chances and not care about INTs. They’re overrated.

neil: The Minnesota defense was uncharacteristically bad on third down, too. Allowed 57 percent conversions after giving up only 28 percent all season before Sunday.

sara.ziegler:

This will be the defining image of the season for me.

Salfino: Cousins showing Thielen how to run routes was both hilarious and sad.

joshua.hermsmeyer: One silver lining for the Vikings is that the situational football we typically use to judge Cousins as a disappointment is among the least predictive of future performance in all of football: throws under pressure, third-down conversions. Kirk deserves his share of the blame, but the entire offense looked out of sync yesterday and for a lot of the second half of the season.

sara.ziegler: Cousins has his redemption narrative all set for next season, LOL.

Salfino: The Eagles benefit from the Vikings’ struggles. I can’t believe that the Bears are only 6-point favorites.

neil: Particularly with Nick Foles not necessarily 100 percent.

sara.ziegler: The Eagles don’t even need Foles, Neil!

neil: Carson Wentz? Nick Foles? Nate Sudfeld? No problem.

sara.ziegler: Well … Wentz? Some problems.

Everyone else? Fine.

neil: Philly was always a backup QB’s dream city during the McNabb era. Some of that has carried over, I guess.

Salfino: Foles has got to be the most volatile QB in NFL history. We should quantify that. He’s below average for his career and is treated like a franchise QB based on about 16 games, if we include all of 2013.

neil: Yeah, the gap between his best 16 and worst 16 starts has to be one of the biggest ever.

Salfino: I can’t even imagine the Bears losing to the Eagles. They are just going to chew Philly up. The Eagles’ best playmaker is still 100-year-old Darren Sproles, who is amazing, but come on.

joshua.hermsmeyer: I can’t think of Foles without wincing that he lost $1 million because of four snaps.

This is just brutal.

sara.ziegler: Ooof.

Salfino: Foles is going to get $100 million in about three months, so I will not feel sorry for him.

joshua.hermsmeyer: hah

sara.ziegler: LOL

The one other meaningful game yesterday — aside from the games that cost coaches their jobs — was Colts-Titans. Anyone surprised that the Colts dominated that one?

neil: I mean, Blaine Gabbert was starting for Tennessee, Sara

sara.ziegler: Fair

Salfino: Titans-Colts is QB wins to me. Luck vs. Gabbert. Come on. Murder. She. Wrote.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Oh gawd not QB Winz

Salfino: YES!!!

Give me the better QB, and I’ll take my chances.

joshua.hermsmeyer: smh

Marlon Mack outrushed Derrick Henry, so why not RB winz?

Salfino: No RB winz because winning yards per carry gets you nothing in win probability.

Josh, you and I agree broadly but just quibble about how much credit quarterbacks get in the passing game.

joshua.hermsmeyer: This is true.

neil: Either way, it’s been great to see Andrew Luck bounce back from the injury and lost season to play well and lead a playoff push.

sara.ziegler: I’m still amazed by the Colts’ turnaround.

They were at 4 percent to make the playoffs on Oct. 15.

Salfino: Luck should be in the MVP conversation. I understand it’s Patrick Mahomes. But Luck has done a lot with a lot less than Mahomes. Luck does seemingly have great coaching now though. Frank Reich, who the Colts backed into, was the hire of the offseason. I think better than Matt Nagy even.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Luck truly played himself back into game shape. Early on, his throws were routinely Derek Carr short, and by the end of the season he was mostly back to the old Luck.

sara.ziegler: So let’s turn to this weekend’s games.

Colts-Texans and Seahawks-Cowboys on Saturday, Chargers-Ravens and Eagles-Bears on Sunday.

Which underdog has the best chance?

neil: Three of the 4 underdogs are +2.5 per Vegas.

Salfino: Colts-Texans is the game of the week to me in terms of having no idea who will win. The Texans are a strange team with great strengths (QB, pass rush) and crippling weaknesses (offensive line, pass coverage).

On paper, the Colts are a terrible matchup for the Texans because Luck led the league in lowest sack rate as he completely transformed his game to protect his health. So smart.

neil: Indy also also beat Houston in Houston less than a month ago.

Salfino: I am going to fade the Seahawks: 25th in yards allowed per play and 31st in sack rate allowed. That’s so bad. I can’t believe they even made the playoffs.

neil: Ironically, our Elo gives Seattle the best chance of any wild card weekend team. 😉

Elo has a tendency to react strongly to recent hot streaks, for better or worse.

Seattle has won six of its past seven, including a win over Kansas City.

Salfino: If you have Russell Wilson, anything is possible. I will stipulate.

joshua.hermsmeyer: I like Seattle for my part. Turnovers are wildly unpredictable, and that drove their defensive Defense-adjusted Value Over Average for much of the season, but they are built to win close games like this one where both teams appear to want to “establish the run.”

Salfino: The football story of the week when it comes to the chess aspect of the game and coaching is whether the Chargers having experienced the Ravens offense can now shut it down. But they don’t really do much on defense except play that Seattle, straight-up style. So do they even have a bag of tricks?

sara.ziegler: Seems strange to me that the Ravens are favorites over the Chargers.

Baltimore is hot right now, but L.A. has been solid all season.

Salfino: Well, Baltimore has had the best home-field advantage in football when you factor in road vs. home record. So LAC are up against it.

neil: Never underestimate the extra value of home-field advantage in the NFL playoffs, too.

sara.ziegler: Yeah, that all makes sense.

I still like the Chargers. I’m being obstinate, LOL.

neil: Well, this is a little bit of a counter to the QB Winz debate from above. L.A. clearly has the better QB.

joshua.hermsmeyer: I like Philip Rivers and the Chargers as well. Particularly if the Chargers keep Jackson in the pocket.

Salfino: No Super Bowl team has won a road game since the 2012 season. But I’ll say that the most likely road winners this week in order are the Colts (they win), Chargers (I can see it but don’t think they adjust defensively), Seattle (Wilson gives them a chance) and Eagles (no chance unless Mitch Trubisky craps the bed).

sara.ziegler: 🔥

joshua.hermsmeyer: The Baltimore defense prevents completions, that’s their best skill. But Rivers has completed passes at 1.8 percent over expected this season.

Salfino: New England really gets tested if the Colts win. (They would have to play the winner of Baltimore-LAC.) If the Texans win, Houston is just made for an easy Patriots victory in the divisional round.

Little worried about how Rivers has looked of late. But probably just random variance. There’s not much data on QBs this old late in the season and into the postseason other than Brady.

sara.ziegler: I’m worried about how Rivers looks, too — at least in this Mina Kimes drawing:

joshua.hermsmeyer: loool

neil: That’s still accurate.

I loved that segment on NFL Countdown Sunday, where they talked about Rivers’ trash talk. Which somehow never includes swearing.

sara.ziegler: I’ve always really liked him. A perfect fantasy football QB.

Salfino: Philip Rivers is great. A Hall-of-Famer IMO. But unbelievably he has as many career playoff wins as Mark Sanchez. He needs more pelts on the wall.

sara.ziegler: Very fair.

Is anyone taking the Eagles over the Bears?

neil: I recuse myself.

LOL

sara.ziegler: Wait, we can’t make predictions about our favorite teams?

I’ve literally been picking the Vikings to lose all season.

neil: I gotta hand it to you, those were accurate predictions.

sara.ziegler: LOL

neil: As opposed to this one:

sara.ziegler: 🤣

Salfino: I think the Bears just crush the Eagles. This spread is all Foles-narrative-driven, and I don’t believe in fairy tales.

sara.ziegler: Wow, Mike.

LOL

neil: Anybody picking the Eagles probably does have visions of this being yet another Bears team that got into the playoffs on defense with a weak QB performance

And promptly lost. But that’s not really this team. Trubisky has been progressing.

(The defense is still amazing, of course)

joshua.hermsmeyer: You can dink and dunk on Chicago.

Salfino: Remember, Foles was LUCKY to beat the Falcons last year. He had a ball go off a Falcon’s knee, or they probably lose that game. Then he turned into Cinderella, and I have no idea how or why.

sara.ziegler: He did get to face the Vikings last year — that undoubtedly helped.

joshua.hermsmeyer: If Foles can be efficient and healthy, and the Eagles are patient, I can totally imagine a game where Biscuit implodes and the Eagles move on. I think the spread has some of that in it.

Salfino: I do not believe in the Eagles defense at all. But I also don’t like how Nagy hasn’t given Tarik Cohen consistently more touches than Jordan Howard. And the Bears are all banged up now at WR.

I agree with Josh on Trubisky, but the Bears and Nagy can’t put him in a position to lose that game. The Eagles have no playmakers. Dare them to score.

sara.ziegler: Yeah, it could be closer than it seems. Of course, if Foles can’t play, then the Eagles will REALLY need a fairy tale.

All right, let’s wrap this up with our Super Bowl predictions, so we can continue to look ridiculous when our picks all lose.

Salfino: I’m going Saints-Chiefs, but that’s predicated on the Colts beating the Texans and giving the Patriots a nightmare matchup in the divisional round. It’s so public to fade the Chiefs that I’m fading the public. Offense!

Mahomes wins MVP and Brees wins Super Bowl MVP. Seems fair.

neil: I’ve been saying New Orleans over K.C. for these past few chats, and that’s still possible, so I’m sticking with it. (Despite the defensive concerns!)

sara.ziegler: I took the Bears last time, and now having watched them flatten my own team, I probably need to keep them. Bears-Chiefs, Chiefs take it down.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Chiefs-Rams rematch, Chiefs win. Because that would be the best ending to the best offensive season in the NFL probably ever.

neil: What’s the score on that one, Josh? Is it the first Super Bowl whose score will be mistaken for an Arena Bowl?

joshua.hermsmeyer: 36-35 with the game decided on a 2-point conversion.

neil: Ooh, going low. I like it.

Check out our latest NFL predictions.

What Would Google Cloud Need To Do To Catch Up To AWS And Azure?

Matt Leffler
Matt Leffler, I host another complete web stack on GCP

Ease of use is one thing. I have clients that can benefit from cloud based solutions. They may have a typical hosting account with some name brand hosts but for various reasons I find myself getting annoyed and deciding I’m moving them to the cloud.

I move them to Google Cloud Platform but only temporarily because I know that when I leave them (I’m just a freelancer) they’ll be lost. If they decide they want to be in the cloud every single time I then move them to AWS. Why did I pick Google to begin with? Only one reason…the credit. That credit allows me to move them without them feeling pressured but when they make the decision to stick with the cloud they leave Google.

Why Is Google Cloud Not Where I Leave Them?

  1. Ever try to have a server on GCP with more than one IP address? – It is next to impossible compared with the ease of associating multiple IPs to an AWS server. Beyond the technical limitations of GCP they also don’t allow more than one IP address per zone. So I would have to use a load balancer if I wanted more than one server in the same zone. That second layer of steps exceeds the clients interest.
  2. Often they have WHM / cPanel servers and they require 2 IP addresses for the two required name servers. Google Cloud … I have to make the WHM with one IP then run off to another zone and make a second server thats DNS only but still meets the minimum requirements of cPanel….then I have to make a DNS cluster tieing the two together and I have found these clusters to be very tricky…often somehow falling apart and needing to be put back together. The client in the end just wanted one server. I can do that in about 2 hours total on AWS without additional servers.
  3. Restrictions – So lets say I make a GCP WordPress micro server. I let people signup and require them to respond to an email from the server. NO ONE ever responds to the email…well, its because GCP by default blocks all SMTP ports. So, if I want something as simple as email I have to go setup a mail relay through another service and guess how many clients eyes glaze over at this point? All.
  4. Too much reliance on Cloud SDK over simply putting it in the website. Again back to clients being able to use this after I leave them, if they cant do it in the web interface they cant do it. Too often the instructions in the help reference Cloud SDK and thats the end. If a client requires a full time cloud specialist because Google relies on Cloud SDK too much then I can’t leave an everyday client with them.
  5. Ever tried to SFTP into a server? AWS I pick an SSH key that Ive already added from previous servers and then in my SFTP client I add my connection settings and select the .pem file and I’m in. Google cloud there are just way more steps and issues. Here is a fun example … go to google and type “Google Cloud SSH” and see what Google suggests you are searching for…Google Cloud SSH Key, Google Cloud SSH Not Working, Google Cloud SSH Permissions, Google Cloud SSH Timeout …. that says volumes. Permission denied is basically the expected search from Google if you type a simple thing you will have to be able to do.

So those are my thoughts…its overly complex and drops the ball in an area that only a few people in most companies IT departments can understand.


I added this into UltimateSEO.org because it IS an SEO thing.  The speed and loading of your site has a big effect on your ranking.  I have improved a sites ranking from the average keyword in the 40s to the 20s by simply putting them on their own server.  Who wouldn’t want their keywords jumping like that and for about $30 a month.

UltimateSEO: Make An Impact

The NFL Games To Watch With The Playoffs On The Line

It’s the last week of the NFL’s regular season, and that means it’s time to game out all of the fun playoff scenarios facing each team.

Here at FiveThirtyEight, we like to measure the most important games of the week based on how much they swing every team’s odds of making the postseason (across every team in the entire league). And by that standard, you can’t top Sunday night’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans, which will shift around nearly 95 total points of playoff probability. (Really, that’s for the two teams involved — the winner will make the playoffs and the loser won’t, which effectively makes it a play-in playoff game.) Oddly, it’s only the third time ever that the Titans will play in NBC’s flagship Sunday night game (the last was in 2009), while for the Colts, it will have been exactly 60 years and two days since they beat the New York Giants for the NFL title in the Greatest Game Ever Played, which helped make TV-spectacle games like this one possible.

That may not be the best game of Week 17, however. We also like to include an element for team quality, and Titans-Colts is still just the No. 13 team in our Elo ratings against No. 14. When the Minnesota Vikings face the Chicago Bears, it will be No. 6 vs. No. 11 in Elo, and it’s a game that has plenty of playoff significance in its own right. The Vikings wouldn’t automatically miss the playoffs if they lose, but they would not be in great shape (35 percent), while they would clinch with a victory. And the Bears have plenty to play for as well; a win and a Rams loss would help them get a first-round playoff bye. Of course, fans of the Philadelphia Eagles will be watching this game closely: A Vikings win would end Philly’s season, while a Bears win would give the Eagles a chance to play their way in. (Both games kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET.)

The best matchups of Week 17

Week 17 games by the highest average Elo rating (using the harmonic mean) plus the total potential swing for all NFL teams’ playoff chances based on the result, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions

Playoff % Playoff %
Team A Current Avg. Chg* Team B Current Avg. Chg* Total Change Game Quality
MIN 72.0% +/-31.6 CHI 100.0% +/-0.0 63.4 1597
TEN 62.1 47.1 IND 37.8 47.0 94.7 1552
BAL 84.3 25.4 CLE 0.0 0.0 51.1 1524
PHI 28.0 20.0 WSH 0.0 0.0 40.8 1512
CIN 0.0 0.0 PIT 15.8 5.4 11.0 1491
DEN 0.0 0.0 LAC 100.0 0.0 1.0 1518
LAR 100.0 0.0 SF 0.0 0.0 1.2 1499
HOU 100.0 0.0 JAX 0.0 0.0 1.2 1489
CAR 0.0 0.0 NO 100.0 0.0 0.5 1587
DET 0.0 0.0 GB 0.0 0.0 1.4 1456
ATL 0.0 0.0 TB 0.0 0.0 0.9 1470
DAL 100.0 0.0 NYG 0.0 0.0 0.9 1488
KC 100.0 0.0 OAK 0.0 0.0 0.5 1492
NE 100.0 0.0 NYJ 0.0 0.0 0.8 1467
BUF 0.0 0.0 MIA 0.0 0.0 0.8 1395
ARI 0.0 0.0 SEA 100.0 0.0 0.6 1451

Game quality is the harmonic mean of the Elo ratings for the two teams in a given matchup. Total Change adds up the potential swing in playoff odds for every team in the league (not just the two teams listed).

*Average change is weighted by the likelihood of a win or loss. (Ties are excluded.)

Source: ESPN

There are a few other games with playoff probability on the line. As mentioned earlier, the outcome of the Eagles’ game with Washington is very much of importance to the Vikings, who would clinch with a Philadelphia loss. The Cleveland Browns’ matchup with the Baltimore Ravens has done the unthinkable — made Pittsburgh Steeler fans root for the Browns — since a Baltimore win would eliminate the Steelers from the postseason picture. Baltimore could still make the playoffs with a loss, but the Ravens would need Pittsburgh to lose its game against Cincinnati, which is also happening simultaneously at 4:25 p.m. ET. (In related news: Are you ready for a completely insane Sunday afternoon of football?)

Although other games could determine seeding, and there are a few stray percentage points of playoff odds’ difference at stake around the league, those are basically the games that will carry the most weight in Week 17, and we can’t wait to see how they all play out.

FiveThirtyEight vs. the readers

While you’re prepping for the playoffs, be sure to check out FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings using our NFL prediction interactive, which simulates the rest of the season 100,000 times and tracks how often each team should make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. Did you know you can also pick against the Elo algorithm in our prediction game? Maybe you can also climb up our giant leaderboard.

Here are the games in which Elo made its best — and worst — predictions against the reader picks last week:

Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 16

Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 16 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game

OUR PREDICTION (ELO) READERS’ PREDICTION
PICK WIN PROB. PICK WIN PROB. Result READERS’ NET PTS
CAR 62% CAR 51% ATL 24, CAR 10 +9.5
MIN 55 MIN 63 MIN 27, DET 9 +4.4
CLE 60 CLE 66 CLE 26, CIN 18 +2.6
CHI 68 CHI 73 CHI 14, SF 9 +0.9
LAR 77 LAR 83 LAR 31, ARI 9 +0.7
GB 57 GB 59 GB 44, NYJ 38 -0.3
IND 74 IND 75 IND 28, NYG 27 -1.4
TEN 73 TEN 74 TEN 25, WSH 16 -1.4
NE 84 NE 83 NE 24, BUF 12 -2.0
MIA 61 MIA 61 JAX 17, MIA 7 -2.2
DEN 61 DEN 62 OAK 27, DEN 14 -3.1
DAL 75 DAL 72 DAL 27, TB 20 -3.2
LAC 66 LAC 67 BAL 22, LAC 10 -3.5
KC 54 KC 56 SEA 38, KC 31 -5.0
NO 74 NO 67 NO 31, PIT 28 -6.6
PHI 66 PHI 51 PHI 32, HOU 30 -14.7

Home teams are in bold.

The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction.

After a shellacking at the hands of our algorithm in Week 15, readers rebounded slightly this week, losing by an average of 25.3 points. Philadelphia’s last-second win over Houston may have kept the Eagles in the playoff hunt, but it cost readers 14.7 points on average in our game. Readers did pick up 9.5 points on average in the Atlanta-Carolina game; though they incorrectly picked the Panthers to beat the Falcons, they did so by a smaller win probability than Elo.

Congrats to Scott S, who led all users in Week 16 with an even 300 points, and to Greg Chili Van Hollebeke, who maintained his No. 1 ranking on the season with 1,075.4 points. Thanks to everyone who has been playing — and if you haven’t, be sure to get in on the action! You can make picks now and still try your luck against Elo, even if you haven’t played yet.

Check out our latest NFL predictions.

What Is Domain Authority Why Should I Care?

Domain Authority is in my opinion the single greatest indicator of a sites ability to compete organically for search traffic.  It is a great question and its simply complex.  Keep in mind Domain Authority or DA as we shall refer to it pretty much here on is the single best number to predict ranking ability and we know that the top 3 positions consume over half of all searches so it can be directly attached to traffic.

A few disclaimers: Domain Authority is not a Google creation it is from Moz.com and it is their educated guess at how Google see’s your authority.  But it is not Google’s so remember that.  Secondly I am going to go over this in a higher level and use some half truths for simplicity.  If you want the whole truth just read the articles or Google the topics discussed for greater detail.  Finally, most of what I will show you are other people’s guesses as to what goes into Moz’s Domain Authority which again is a guess about Google’s metric on a site.  Google doesn’t tell us exactly and they shouldn’t, Moz doesn’t tell us either because they want you to pay for it.  Moz isn’t the only one guessing, a lot of folks guess and some include Majestic’s Citation Factor and Trust FactorSEOProfiler has it’s LIS.  For simplicity and since I’m the one running this show we’ll focus for now on Domain Authority by Moz.

Now it’s a simple number from 1 to 100 but it isn’t like a ladder with even steps, as you climb the steps get bigger and it takes more to gain a level.  So from DA 1 lets say you gain 5 backlinks and two are from sites that have a decent DA 40 and Moz bumps your score up to a DA 3.  If you gain 5 more links to your site and they also have similar metrics as the last bunch you might assume you’re set to have a DA 6, but you get surprised when it is reported as a 4.  Another set of 5 and it stays a 4.  DA levels are harder to improve the higher you get your site.

What Determines Domain Authority?

Links?

Domain authority is the best metric because it provides us with a single number but its based on some rather key and diverse factors.  Yes, it is backlinks but its so much more than that…but it is largely backlinks or incoming links from other domains.  These serve as citations, they’re references from other entities that acknowledge publicly that this site they are link too, yours is authoritative.  Coupled with “anchor text” or the words that make up a link that aren’t the address they can define a site.  More on that towards the end.  This is anchor text it has a link but the anchor text serves as the vanity description of the content at the other end of the link.  The link comes from another site to yours and depending upon that site’s authority the link is more or less powerful than another.

domain-authorityWe’ll talk in greater depth about SEO Backlinks but for now let’s just understand that backlinks are votes from other sites.  Not all backlinks are created equal.  The more backlinks the more authority, and one vote per site.  So 800 links from another site you own are not worth 25 from 25 sites.

In the graphic to the left links are the blue AND red slices of the pie and together they make up 49%.  The next biggest element is SOCIAL MEDIA MENTIONS.  I do that in all caps because I’ve always included social media as an element of reports I offer in client proposals and I get told often they don’t care about all that.  I just sit back and scribble down that they don’t know what they don’t know yet.

Social Media Mentions

Sure you need an account and you need followers but to get those followers you need to post regularly.  Five or Six times randomly during the year isn’t regular.  Thats why so many people feel social media doesn’t matter because they were unable to tap into the great interest on Facebook in their widgets.   News flash no one is really going to be interested in your widget but you and a handful of individuals.  Thats why your messages need to have more than just “buy our widget.”  If you are a church for instance a weekly devotional or prayer list is better than telling people to come on Sunday week after week.  The biggest mistake is not including a link to your site in your post.  While there may be a link off of your profile page to your site your message can be repeated by others and each repeat or share is from their profile. It may mention you and likely link back to your profile but that is still one link to your site.  Include a link.

social media mention with link

Domain Age Matters And It Should

So you’re going out there and you found a domain name thats available and you want to outrank your competition in a month.  SEOs laugh out loud around the globe…Highly unlikely, it’s partly you lack street cred.  I’d love to rank number one in the keyword Louisville SEO but I don’t.  I’m the 89.8th result.  MatthewLeffler.com is 352 days old as I am writing this.  The top result for Louisville SEO is 9 years and 207 days old.  Indirectly they’ve got 9 years worth of content, returning traffic and backlinks than I have and so they are given a bonus for that longevity.  Partly to prevent searchers from getting a completely different result every time a new domain picks a keyword.   Its easier though as you age, the difference between 5 yrs and 9 years is trivial and the distance between 1 day and 1 year is a stretch.  Sometimes buying an existing domain thats relevant to your business will give you a way around this, but you’re at the mercy of what is for sale and like a foster kid you don’t know about it’s past.

Brand Search Volume

Nobody said SEO was fair

Sometimes in SEO it feels like you’re swimming with Joan Crawford.  This one I feel is a bit much … brand search volume is how often people are looking for you.  Well isn’t that impossible until they know about me and the reason they don’t know about me is because you have me on page 4?  Couldn’t brand search volume arguably be covered in social media mentions and backlinks?  We’ll now that we got those out of the way, nobody ever said life was fair, Tina.

I’ve decided that I’ll figure out a way to sneak a reference to a favorite movie of mine into every post from here on.

But I digress, so your brand search volume does make sense to be included because people searching for Coca Cola do not want to see Pepsi.  I’m from deep Coke territory and even Taco Bell has stopped asking if I want a Pepsi.  So has Google it appears.

Incidentally I would suspect that local plays into this heavily.  Google knows where the searches are coming from so they understand the foot print of your business.  Which is why Googling the best landscaper in town is different in each town.  Food for thought if you build a regional powerhouse and expand into a new city.

Domain Authority Case Study – Project No Wire Hangers

Sorry I wont make this all about that movie but we all know …. NO Wire Hangers.  For our purposes hangers are domains and they can be wire or wooden.  Depending on the hanger or domain your attempts to rank for a keyword will be affected, like the clothes you hang on them.  I’ll show you several domains stats that I have built completely alone over several months.  It hasn’t been a dedicated effort so these numbers could have been better but the effort has been the same.  Some are older than others some are the same age. We’ll dissect these domains and metrics extensively.

Matt’s Project Hangers

URL Moz DA Moz PA MozRank External Links
seandelahanty.com 29 / 100 27 / 100 2.70 112
cloud502.com 28 / 100 24 / 100 2.40 134
votelouisville.com 23 / 100 19 / 100 1.90 4
matthewleffler.com 23 / 100 23 / 100 2.30 112
data502.com 22 / 100 21 / 100 2.10 12
matt2.info 20 / 100 16 / 100 1.60 51
seandelahanty.org 18 / 100 19 / 100 1.90 36
forbrent.com 16 / 100 11 / 100 1.10 0
countyattorney.info 14 / 100 10 / 100 1.00 0
seodata.cloud 12 / 100 16 / 100 1.60 11
chriscoffman.rocks 8 / 100 6 / 100 0.60 4

Feel free to look into them and make some assumptions.  You may find tools that I have discussed previously useful in “auditing” the domains.  Much like a Sciencetologist audits a person with toys and wild claims so does your SEO and look we have just about as many acronyms.  Now go and let your Thetan figure out where the keywords were in the graph.  Spoiler … anchor text that you had no control over … officially.  Here is a further reading on the power of anchor text…in 2004 “Miserable Failure” was George W. Bush’s Whitehouse biography page and no one optimized it for that.

Miserable Failure

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The Thunder Are Playing Way Better, But Are They A Real Contender?

Roll back the calendar a couple months, and things weren’t going so well in Oklahoma City. The Thunder had to open their season without former MVP Russell Westbrook, who was in the final stages of his knee rehabilitation following a late-summer arthroscopic procedure. And even after getting him back a few games in, the club struggled out of the gate, beginning 0-4 and becoming the last team in the Western Conference to claim its first victory.

Fast-forward to Christmas, the Thunder are currently one of the NBA’s hottest teams; winners in 21 of their last 28. Paul George has played MVP-level ball, averaging 32 points on 53 percent shooting the past few weeks. And Oklahoma City has the league’s second-best defense, a notable stat since Andre Roberson, perhaps the team’s best defender, has missed the entire season.

With OKC a game out of first in the West, and no one separating themselves as the top challenger to the Warriors, it’s time to ask: Have the Thunder become legitimate contenders?

The answer, to this point, is something of a mixed bag. Yes, the defense has been downright dominant at times, and their overall net rating suggests they belong in the conversation. But the offense — slightly below average, and still with considerable flaws beyond Westbrook, George, Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder — doesn’t enjoy that same level of success each night.

There’s no question about this team’s most abundant strength. Its imposing length and eye-popping athleticism stands out even more now, with Jerami Grant starting and Nerlens Noel and rookie Hamidou Diallo getting minutes off the bench (and without Carmelo Anthony as a weak link teams can attack relentlessly in screen-and-rolls). And aside from largely negating pick-and-rolls — third in efficiency against them1 — the Thunder get their hands on just about everything, ranking second in the NBA in deflections, and second in recovered loose balls. Oklahoma City is lightning quick and has a ton of collective hustle among its youngsters, making it tough to score even in situations that would normally present easy fast-break opportunities. One sign of that: After forcing a Thunder turnover, it takes opposing teams 9.4 seconds on average to get off a shot attempt, tied for the second-longest span in the NBA, according to Inpredictable.

The club addressed one of its biggest problems over the years — the awful bench depth — when it acquired Schroder in the deal to dump Anthony. But on some level, OKC’s main problem now is the same as it ever was: In a league where basically everyone can shoot from outside, the Thunder still struggle mightily from distance. They’re tied for second worst in 3-point accuracy, and Westbrook — while he’s cut down considerably on his long, midrange 2’s — is on pace to have one of the worst volume 3-point shooting campaigns of all-time, at just 23.6 percent on nearly five attempts from deep per game. As such, OKC ranks in the bottom 10 in effective field goal percentage, the lone contender in that group among several teams likely to make the lottery.

There’s obvious room for upside. Beyond the continued hope that Roberson will rejoin them at some point this season, the Thunder also have one of the youngest rotations in the NBA. They have seven players who are 25 or younger and have logged at least 300 minutes already.

If there’s a downside, it’s that Oklahoma City hasn’t been thoroughly tested from a scheduling standpoint yet. In fact, only Boston has played an easier slate to this point. According to a preseason BPI tracker, the Thunder’s projected winning percentage was expected to get progressively worse each month after December because of the escalating schedule to come. (Another possible challenge, though OKC would love to get Roberson back from injury, would be the potential spacing problems upon Roberson’s return. There’s already limited shooting on the floor, and his unwillingness to pull the trigger would further hinder the effort to fix that conundrum.)

Nonetheless, FiveThirtyEight’s newly updated projection model really seems to like the Thunder’s chances of becoming Golden State’s most viable challenger out West. Despite the incredibly solid Denver Nuggets’ turnaround, which has them virtually tied for first place, the system gives Oklahoma City a 10 percent probability of making it to the NBA Finals, more than double that of any other Western Conference team.

Time will tell whether those projections were merely an overshoot. But for the time being, after a slow start this season and two consecutive first-round flameouts the past two years, the Thunder will gladly take making it onto Santa’s nice list heading into their Christmas Day game.

Emergency Politics Podcast: Mattis Is Out, Shutdown Is On (?)

FiveThirtyEight

In an emergency installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew discusses Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’s resignation and the looming government shutdown. Both events strain President Trump’s relationship with the congressional GOP and create uncertainty in Washington.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast publishes Monday evenings, with occasional special episodes throughout the week. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.