Playoff picks – Super Bowl XLVI

Only two teams left in the hunt for Lombardi trophy … AFC Champions New England Patriots and NFC Champions New York Giants will play in this year’s biggest game  – Super Bowl XLVI.

     New York Giants (12-7) vs New England Patriots (15-3), Sunday 6:20 PM (ET)

Stats That Matter – regular season

Scoring Offense: Patriots (3rd) over Giants (9th)
Scoring Defense: Patriots (15th) over Giants (25th)
Scoreability Index: Patriots (4th) over Giants (18th)
Bendability Index: Patriots (2nd) over Giants (21st)
Passer Rating Diff.: Patriots (4th) over Giants (12th)
Rusher Rating Diff.: Patriots (7th) over Giants (13th)

Stats That Matter – playoffs

Scoring Offense: Patriots (34.0) over Giants (27.0)
Scoring Defense: Giants (13.0) over Patriots (15.0)
Scoreability Index: Patriots (12.3) over Giants (15.0)
Bendability Index: Giants (24.7) over Patriots (21.7)
Passer Rating Diff.: Patriots (+28.3) over Giants (+22.9)
Rusher Rating Diff.: Giants (+25.4) over Patriots (+9.2)

Prediction 

This is a rematch of Super Bowl XLII in which the Giants upset the undefeated Patriots. Even dough that happened 4 years ago, there are some similarities on both teams. Patriots’ strength is on offense and Giants seem to have the edge on defense. Teams already played in regular season, it was Week 9 and the Giants won the game played in Foxborough, 24-20. Patriots committed 4 turnovers in that game, Brady fumbled once and threw 2 INTs but the game was decided by another Eli Manning’s fourth quarter comeback. There aren’t many secrets left, both teams know what to expect from the other. I think this time Patriots won’t commit as many turnovers as they did in the regular season game. Brady had a really bad game in AFC championship and chances are he will do much better job this time around. On the other hand Eli Manning didn’t have a bad game recently, maybe this will be the day on which Eli throws a couple of INTs. Sometimes he tends to just throw the ball up for grabs and it could be the wrong guy who will come down with the ball. I expect a close game, probably decided by a field goal late in the game. Patriots win and get sweet revenge.

Moneyline: Patriots 27-24
Against The Spread: Patriots (-2.5)
Over/Under: Under 53.5

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Super Bowl Point Spreads

We are getting closer to this year’s Super Bowl, AFC Champions New England Patriots are 3-point favorite over NFC Champions New York Giants. Before this year the Patriots were the favorite to win the Super Bowl on 3 other occasions, they won on 2 of those  but they never covered the point spread. When they did lost they were 14-point favorite to win over the same opponent they will face in this year’s Super Bowl – the New York Giants. The Giants upset the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII despite being 14-point underdog. There were other big upsets in Super Bowl history, but non bigger than in Super Bowl III. Prior to the game Baltimore Colts were 17-point favorite over the NY Jets but it was the Jets who won in the end. Otherwise, the biggest point spread in Super Bowl history was in Super Bowl XXIX, 49ers were 18-point favorite over San Diego Chargers and rightfully so, as they beat them by 23 points, 49-26.

I put up a table of all 45 Super Bowl point spreads, favorite teams (in green) covered the point spread 22 times. It happened only 3 times that the favorite team won the game by the exact point spread. The last time that happened was in Super Bowl XXXIV, when the Rams were 7-point favorite to win over the Titans and actually won by 7 points, 23-16. As mentioned above, there were upsets, meaning favorite team lost the game, that happened on 13 occasions, the last time in Super Bowl XLIV when the Colts failed to win over the Saints despite being 4-point favorite.

Passer ratings predicting Super Bowl winners

Passer rating is a well-known measure of the performance of quarterbacks and the same measure can be applied when measuring the performance of each NFL team on offense – Offensive Passer Rating (OPR) or defense – Defensive Passer Rating (DPR). In 2009, guys at Cold Hard Football Facts first introduced so-called Passer rating differential (PRD, PRD = OPR – DPR), which is one of my favorite stat explained in one of my earlier posts. They call it ‘The Mother of all stats’ because of its high rate of predicting the winners in NFL games. I looked at all 45 Super Bowl winners and losers to see how those numbers (regular season offensive passer rating, defensive passer rating and passer rating differential) predicted the outcome of each Super Bowl.
For example, 2010 Green Bay Packers had a better OPR than the Steelers (98.9 > 95.3), they had a better DPR (67.2 < 73.1) and consequently, they had the better PRD (+31.7 > +22.2) and … they beat the Steelers and won the Super Bowl.

As shown in the table above, teams entering Super Bowl with a better regular season Offensive Passer Rating won only 22 out of 45 Super Bowls played so far (49%), much higher rate of predicting Super Bowl winner has Passer Rating Differential (60%), but even higher rate has Defensive Passer Rating. Teams with a better DPR won 30 Super Bowls so far (67%). Teams who play better pass defense and have the ability to stop the opposing passing attack have a better chance of winning the game. In modern era of pass-happy NFL is that much more important to have the defense that can slow down opponent’s passing game. In the table I also highlighted Super Bowl winners with best/worst OPR, DPR and PRD, for example 1989 San Francisco 49ers have the best OPR (114.8) of all Super Bowl winners and 2007 New York Giants was a team with the worst DPR (83.4) and PRD (-10.4). In fact, they are the only one who managed to win the Super Bowl with a negative PRD.

Lets look now at Super Bowl XLVI opponents and how they rank on OPR, DPR and PRD.

Patriots hold the edge in OPR (105.7 > 92.9) and PRD (+19.6 > +6.8). But as stated above its more important to rule the DPR, in that stat Patriots and Giants are even with a 86.1 defensive passer rating, and no matter which team wins, it will become the team with the worst DPR of all Super Bowl winners. Both Patriots and Giants had hard time stopping the opposing passers and their passing attack in regular season. Come playoff time, they did better on DPR. If we take into account only playoff games and calculate DPR then the Patriots were better at stopping opposing air-attack (77.5 < 80.2) but the Giants faced much tougher competition than the Patriots did in the playoffs.
Patriots on defense had to play the Broncos (26th on offensive passer rating) and the Ravens (15th on OPR), Giants on the other hand had to play the Falcons (9th on OPR), the Packers (1st on OPR) and the 49ers (8th on OPR).

As already mentioned, regular season Defensive Passer Rating predicted the winner in 67% of all Super Bowls played so far. This season, with AFC champions Patriots and NFC champions Giants dead even in this stat alone, with their DPR at 86.1, we might see first ever Super Bowl decided in overtime.