Shared traits of Super Bowl teams

December 28, 2021 09:54 PM

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One of my favorite habits in looking for futures wagers is to compare the resumes of current teams with those of previous champions. That is a good way to discover which teams have the pedigree to accomplish something special. In these comparisons, I look at all kinds of characteristics, from strength ratings to momentum to raw statistics. Some of you probably know the most popular application for me in this methodology is for the NCAA tournament, as annually I look for potential surprise teams, upset victims, Final Four contenders and eventual champions. Last week I conducted this exercise to find potential early contenders for this year’s college basketball crown.

This week I’ll take a look at teams vying for the Super Bowl title. The current futures odds at the sportsbooks reveal the opinions of the experts, but these aren’t always built on resumes. More often they are formed simply from won-lost records, recent games or even from where the most money is coming in. I believe my method for finding shared characteristics from previous success stories provides bettors more concrete evidence on which to base wagers. So let’s check some of the key statistical characteristics each team boasts now compared with Super Bowl teams of the last 20 years.

The stats I have chosen to use encompass the entire regular season. The savvy bettor could take this a step or two further in looking for recency trends or various streaks. For instance, the Buccaneers got hot at the right time last season, winning their final four games of the regular season and then sweeping four postseason games. However, they also had a stretch of torrid offensive play in the first half of the season that proved they were capable of making a run. The 2019 Chiefs also ended the season on a tear and played their best defensive ball in their six-game winning streak to close the regular season. That gave the Chiefs the balance they needed to win their first title. You could point to huge stretches of great play by several teams in 2021, including the Packers, Colts and Patriots.

In going through the logs of the teams that reached the Super Bowl over the last 20 years, I found that almost all won at least four games in a row against the spread at some point in the season, demonstrating the potential for a monthlong postseason surge. Here are the 25 statistics and strength characteristics I used to qualify this year’s teams for their likelihood of winning the Super Bowl.

— Steve Makinen’s power rating

— Steve Makinen’s effective strength indicator

— Steve Makinen’s bettors’ rating

— Steve Makinen’s momentum rating

— Won-lost record

— ATS won-lost record

— Offensive points per game

— Offensive rushing yards per game

— Offensive rushing yards per attempt

— Offensive passing yards per game

— Offensive passing yards per attempt

— Offensive total yards per game

— Total offensive yards per play

— Defensive points per game

— Defensive rushing yards per game

— Defensive rushing yards per attempt

— Defensive passing yards per game

— Defensive passing yards per attempt

— Defensive total yards per game

— Total defensive yards per play

— Sacks

— Scoring differential

— Yards-per-play differential

— Turnover differential

— Average time of possession

Whenever I do this type of exercise, I’m typically looking for teams that share the same traits as 80 percent or so of the sample group I’m studying. So to find separations in stats and ranks among the last 40 Super Bowl participants, I’m looking for about 32 teams to fit the template. You will find the qualifying teams for each trait on the accompanying chart. Of the Super Bowl teams since 2001, at the end of the regular season, about 80 percent:

— Had a Steve Makinen power rating of 28 or higher.

— Had a Steve Makinen effective strength indicator of + 4.0 or higher.

— Had a Steve Makinen bettors’ rating of -6.0 or better.

— Had a Steve Makinen momentum rating of + 6.0 or better.

— Won 11 games or more (68 percent).

— Won nine games or more ATS (56 percent).

— Averaged 24 points or more on offense.

— Rushed for 100 yards or more per game.

— Averaged 4.0 yards or more per rushing attempt.

— Passed for 210 yards or more per game.

— Averaged 7.0 yards or more per passing attempt.

— Gained 350 or more total yards per game.

— Averaged 5.5 yards or more per play on offense.

— Allowed 22 or fewer points per game.

— Allowed 120 or fewer rushing yards per game.

— Allowed 4.5 or fewer yards per rushing attempt.

— Allowed 238 or fewer passing yards per game.

— Allowed 6.6 or fewer yards per passing attempt.

— Allowed 350 or fewer total yards per game.

— Allowed 5.6 or fewer yards per play.

— Recorded 2.5 or more sacks per game.

— Outscored opponents by 6.8 or more points per game.

— Outgained opponents by 0.3 yards or more per play.

— Had a turnover differential of + 6 or more.

— Averaged more than 30 minutes in time of possession.

Qualifying each of the 23 teams that have won seven or more games, we come up with this chart, with marks indicating they meet the criteria for that statistic.

Theoretically, the more marks, the more qualified that team’s resume would figure to be in making a run at the Super Bowl. That would leave Buffalo and Tampa Bay as the matchup at this time, with the Bills holding a large five-mark edge over any other team in the AFC, including the Chiefs. The Bucs would have their work cut out for them in the NFC, with the Packers, Rams, Cardinals and Cowboys all within four marks. However, a lot can happen in the next two weeks.

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