QBList Super Bowl Predictor

Yardage Stats

 

I started off my research with the basics: offense and defense. How did the team finish as an offense and defense, and what if we break it down even further–into passing and rushing specific stats? Since 2000, here are the baseline stats for all Super Bowl winners. I have included stats held by 70%, 80%, and 90% of teams. Some teams have successfully compensated for a weakness (the 2007 Colts were shockingly-bad against the run) via other strengths (they had an excellent offense, an excellent pass defense, and a Hall of Fame quarterback). That being the case, I wanted to exclude the most extreme values as outliers. Here’s what I found.

 

Pass Off Rush Off Total Off Pass Def Rush Def Total Def
70% of teams 3301+ yds 1718+ yds 5149+ yds  < 3650 yds  < 1838 yds  < 5352 yds
80% of teams 3154+ yards 1607+ yards 5014+ yards  < 3806 yds  < 1940 yds  < 5615 yds
90% of teams 2926+ yards 1557+ yards 4991+ yards  < 3943 yds  < 1965 yds  < 5746 yds

 

Obviously there is plenty of variability in these results. A team has won the Super Bowl with the worst rushing offense. The same is true of the worst rushing defense. My goal here is rather to find typical barriers to success and to see how many barriers each team faces. I treated teams missing the 70% mark as a slight hit…let’s think 1 point. Missing the 80% mark was worse–think 3 points. Missing the 90% mark was a big flag–6 points. Here’s how our playoff teams fared:

 

Pass Off Rush Off Total Off Pass Def Rush Def Total Def Points
Baltimore Ravens 3225 3296 6521 3315 1494 4809 1
Kansas City Chiefs 4498 1569 6067 3543 2051 5594 10
New England Patriots 3961 1703 5664 2886 1528 4414 1
Houston Texans 3783 2009 5792 4276 1937 6213 13
Buffalo Bills 3229 2054 5283 3123 1649 4772 1
Tennesee Titans 3582 2223 5805 4080 1672 5752 12
San Francisco 49ers 3792 2305 6097 2707 1802 4509 0
Green Bay Packers 3733 1795 5528 3721 1921 5642 5
New Orleans Saints 4244 1738 5982 3868 1461 5329 3
Philadelphia Eagles 3833 1939 5772 3865 1442 5307 3
Seattle Seahawks 3791 2200 5991 4223 1883 6106 13
Minnesota Vikings 3523 2133 5656 3737 1728 5465 2

 

Okay, so we have some results. What do they mean? If I applied this test to previous champs, only two teams since 2000 have won the big game with a score of 12 or worse: the 2012 New York Giants–statistically the worst champ in the last 20 years–and the 2019 New England Patriots. To overcome significant weaknesses, you have to be lucky (the Giants) or have Tom Brady (the Patriots). For our purposes, it means we can probably eliminate the Seahawks, the Titans, and the Texans from serious consideration. Each has significant weaknesses likely to sink them. The Chiefs are also on short notice; 80% of all champs scored below 10 points on this test. Here are a couple more quick takeaways about previous Super Bowl Champs:

  • 90% had 1600+ rushing yards. The Chiefs only had 1569 this year.
  • 95% gave up less than 4000 yards passing. The Texans (4276), Titans (4080), and Seahawks (4223) all fail.
  • 95% gave up less than 2000 rushing yards. The Chiefs allowed 2051.
  • 95% gave up less than 6000 total yards during the season. The Seahawks gave up 6106 yards and the Texans allowed 6213.

 

Multiple Strengths

 

On top of avoiding weaknesses, Super Bowl champs need to have some genuine strengths. Of all champs since 2000, 70% have been top-5 in one or more of the aforementioned yardage stats during their season. 90% of previous champs were top-10 in at least one thing. 85% of them were top-10 in at least two categories. How does this factor in? Let’s look at the team rankings for the 2019 season.

 

Pass Off Rush Off Total Off Pass Def Rush Def Total Def top-10 ranks
Baltimore Ravens 27 1 2 6 5 4 5
Kansas City Chiefs 5 23 6 8 26 17 3
New England Patriots 8 18 15 2 6 1 4
Houston Texans 15 9 13 29 25 28 1
Buffalo Bills 26 8 24 4 10 3 4
Tennessee Titans 21 3 12 24 12 21 1
San Francisco 49ers 13 2 4 1 17 2 4
Green Bay Packers 17 15 18 14 23 18 0
New Orleans Saints 7 16 9 20 4 11 3
Philadelphia Eagles 11 11 14 19 3 10 2
Seattle Seahawks 14 4 8 27 22 26 2
Minnesota Vikings 23 6 16 15 13 14 1

 

This second test gives us more interesting results. The Titans and Texans both only have one strength here, so I’m ready to drop them completely. They aren’t good at much, and they have now failed both tests. Then, we have the Packers. The Packers seem like a strong team at 13-3, but they don’t excel at anything. If they win the Super Bowl this year, they would be the first team through 2000 to not have finished top-13 in any of these stat categories. That’s kind of amazing for such a strong record. Green Bay also has the dubious distinction of not being top-16 in offense OR defense. Only one team has won the Super Bowl with that constraint. Okay, maybe we have to dump Green Bay as well.

One last takeaway here: 90% of Super Bowl champs since 2000 have been top-10 in at least two of those categories. Which teams aren’t? Obviously the Texans, Titans, and Packers–who I already mentioned. We also add in the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota has been mediocre on defense while also struggling to throw the ball on offense. They could be in big trouble if someone can put them in a hole and they have to rely on Kirk Cousins in crunch time.

Alright, I think we are ready to rank our contenders. I have included a doppelganger for each team as well…the Super Bowl winner since 2000 that they most resemble. Not everyone had a perfect match, but I did my best to match up each team with a similar Super Bowl winner via their stats. Okay…here we go!

 

Michael Miklius

Mike is a lifelong Bears fan who is just about ready to give up on Mitch Trubisky for good... Twitter: @SIRL0INofBEEF

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