Friday, February 02, 2007

Some interesting historical data on the Superbowl

From Allen St. John of the WSJ (subscription required):
Over the last 22 Super Bowls, 18 -- 86% of them -- were won by the team that came into the game after allowing fewer regular-season points. (In the 2004-05 regular season, the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles each allowed 260 points.) Not since the Denver Broncos won 1999's Super Bowl XXXIII has the team with the weaker defense emerged victorious.

And that's why the underdog Chicago Bears should defeat the Indianapolis Colts in Miami on Sunday. Lovie Smith's NFC Champion Bears allowed only 255 points during the regular season. That's third-best in the NFL -- and is a whopping 105 points fewer than the AFC Champion Colts allowed.

More bad news for Colts fans. In the regular season, the Colts defense allowed 360 points -- more than any team that has won the Super Bowl. Since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978, only three winning teams allowed 300 or more points in a season -- the 1983-84 Raiders (338), the 1998-99 Broncos (309) and the 1980-81 Raiders (306).

And while much has been made of the Colts' powerful offense, the Bears scored the same number of points -- 427 -- in the regular season. Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning has been the focus of attention, but his Chicago counterpart Rex Grossman has been about as efficient in his passing this post-season -- with 6.66 yards per attempt vs. Mr. Manning's 6.84 yards per attempt.

That brings into view another trend pointing to a Bears win. A good gauge of a team's strength is its ratio of points scored to points allowed -- and the measurement we use to express that ratio is Pythagorean Wins. Since Super Bowl XIX, the team with more P-wins has gone 18-4 (81.8%) making it a more reliable indicator than a team's actual record, which predicted the outcome just 76.5% of the time. This season, the 13-3 Bears outscored their opponents by 172 points (better than five of the last six Super Bowl champs) and led the NFC with 12.36 P-wins. The 12-4 Colts, on the other hand, outscored their rivals by just 67 points, which projects to only 9.59 P-Wins. No team in history has won the Super Bowl with a P-win total that low.

Instead of listening to the pundits who say their team has little chance against the Colts, maybe Chicago fans should focus on this: Only three teams since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger -- the Raiders in Super Bowls XI, XV and XVIII -- have entered the big game with fewer P-wins and a more porous regular-season defense than their opponents and still managed to win.

Savvy fans may dismiss many of these numbers, arguing that the AFC was the far better conference this year. That may be true for the conferences, but it doesn't necessarily hold for this matchup. The Bears and Colts played five common opponents this season -- the New York Jets, New York Giants, Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. Indianapolis went 5-0 against these teams, while the Bears were 3-2. However, in those games, the Bears scored 114 points and surrendered only 75, outscoring their opponents by 39 points. The Colts? Despite their perfect record, they scored 128 but gave up 107, for a 21-point differential, just over half that of the Bears.

I got long a little NFL.COLTS after they beat the Patriots. More recently, my boss asked me to get long a ton of NFL.BEARS, which is paying 2:1. Either way, I am happy.

alt="Price for Super Bowl XLI Winner at"
title="Price for Super Bowl XLI Winner at" border="0" />

No comments:

Post a Comment