Super Bowl LVI: Projecting team, individual totals

February 8, 2022 07:37 PM

Super Bowl Sunday has become widely known as a day to take advantage of a ton of prop betting options that aren’t available for the average NFL game. Bettors can wager on specific play results, team and individual stats and plenty, plenty more. I’m here to address the individual stats option, using some statistical forecasting methods I’ve learned over the years.

Having been an oddsmaker for more than 10 years, I’ve used these methods in my submissions for some of the world’s most noteworthy sportsbooks. However, rest assured that the numbers below are my projections and weren’t shared with any industry operative on either side of the counter, until the release of this piece in Point Spread Weekly. I did this same thing last year, and all the score projections pointed to a Tampa Bay outright win over Kansas City, as well as Under on the game total.

I will start by projecting the scores, time of possession and yardage statistics for Super Bowl LVI, then expand into the individual players and their projected output based on the overall numbers. For enhanced accuracy, I used only the last 10 meaningful games for each team, making the assumption that the performances in that span were more indicative of the teams themselves and the quality of opponents which they faced. As such, I did not include the Bengals’ Week 18 game against Cleveland, a game in which the Bengals rested quarterback Joe Burrow and other key players.

Let’s start by looking at some overall projections for the game, using my effective stats method as the basis for calculation. This method takes into account the team’s performance against weighted averages of its opponents. In other words, strength of schedule is built in.

Overall game score projections

To show you an example of how I calculate the Effective Score projections based on the last 10 games, here are the last 10 game Effective Points For/Against for both teams. I will only show the 10-game numbers for this first calculation to illustrate how I’ve done it:

Cincinnati Effective Offensive Points for last 10 games: 28.95, 41.14, 18.86, 24.93, 18.63, 41.51, 36.85, 23.52, 20.31, 29.27

L.A. Rams Effective Offensive Points for last 10 games: 28.98, 31.73, 32.21, 21.58, 28.14, 20.25, 26.02, 36.51, 31.34, 21.68

Using my forecast model, here are the Effective Offensive Points projections for Super Bowl LVI:

Cincinnati: 26.36

L.A. Rams: 26.46

Applying the same statistical methods for the defensive performances …

Cincinnati Effective Defensive Points for last 10 games: 13.52, 11.38, 33.29, 24.19, 12.16, 21.26, 25.17, 19.76, 14.83, 19.49

L.A. Rams Effective Defensive Points for  last 10 games: 31.58, 10.31, 19.87, 9.82, 21.23, 19.23, 25.12, 9.50, 20.48, 15.82

Using the same forecast model, here are the Effective Defensive Points projections for Super Bowl LVI:

Cincinnati: 20.25

L.A. Rams: 15.68

I, along with a few of my statistical colleagues in the industry, typically estimate that about two-thirds of the “scoring output” is dictated by the offenses. Using that ratio, the score projection would be:

Last 10 Games Effective Scoring Forecast: L.A. Rams 24.39, Cincinnati 22.8

The total points of 47.19 is more than a point below the actual total of 48.5, and the Rams, minus any home-field advantage, would be expected to be about a 1.59-point favorite. This obviously falls short of the actual line being offered. We’ll see if it changes using an Effective Yards Per Play method for calculating the score.

Overall Game Score using Effective Yardage Calculations 

Overall Time of Possession/Forecasted Scrimmage Plays:

Cincinnati’s Effective Time of Possession Forecast: 31.5 minutes

L.A. Rams’ Effective Time of Possession Forecast: 28.8 minutes

Naturally we can’t have more than 60 minutes projected for Super Bowl LVI. Adjusted for a 60-minute game, here are the forecasts: 

Cincinnati: 31.3 minutes (or 31:18)

L.A. Rams: 28.7 minutes (or 28:42) 

Over the last 10 meaningful games, Cincinnati has averaged 1.83 plays per minute of possession while the L.A. Rams have averaged 2.02 plays per minute. Thus, the expected number of plays run by each team in the Super Bowl would be as follows:

Cincinnati: 57.3 plays

L.A. Rams: 58.0 plays

Moving now to the Effective Yards per Play calculations for the last 10 games, using the same method as for the scoring, here are the games forecasts for Super Bowl LVI:

Cincinnati Offensive Yards per Play Forecast: 6.44

L.A. Rams Offensive Yards per Play Forecast: 6.40

Cincinnati Defensive Yards per Play Forecast: 6.06

L.A. Rams Defensive Yards per Play Forecast: 4.92

Using the two-thirds offense, one-third defense formula, here are the forecasted total yards per play for Super Bowl LVI:

Cincinnati: 5.93 YPP

L.A. Rams 6.29 YPP

Thus, the Total Yardage Projections based on plays run multiplied by expected yards per play would be as follows:

Cincinnati: 344.1 total yards

L.A. Rams: 365.3 total yards 

Applying Effective Yards per Point totals for the teams obtained over the last 10 meaningful games this season using the same two-thirds offense, one-third defense ratio, the score forecasted with the yardage method would be:

Last 10 Games Effective Yardage Score Forecast: Cincinnati 22.28, L.A. Rams 22.04.

This projection is much lower on the total than the score method, and in this one, Cincinnati would be about a 0.24-point favorite. It is indicating that while the Rams might win the yardage battle, Cincinnati has proven more efficient lately, and perhaps has been the beneficiary of good fortune or turnovers, and thus could win on the scoreboard despite the yardage deficiency. 

Projecting team stats

At this point in the season, teams generally stick with the recipe that got them to the Super Bowl. Using the assumptions made above in that Cincinnati would total 344.1 yards on 57.3 plays and the L.A. Rams would gain 365.3 yards on 58 plays, the number of runs and passes for each team would be broken up as follows:

Cincinnati runs: 20.1 runs (Effective Run% 35%)

Cincinnati passes: 37.2 passes (Effective Pass% 65%)

L.A. Rams runs: 27.0 runs (Effective Run% 46.5%)

L.A. Rams passes: 31.0 passes (Effective Pass% 53.5%)

Using the consistent two-thirds offense, one-third defense rules, here are the expected rushing and passing yards per attempt and total yards for the two teams:

Cincinnati: 3.59 YPR for 72.2 rushing yards 

L.A. Rams: 3.78 YPR for 102.1 rushing yards 

Cincinnati: 7.31 PYA for 271.9 passing yards (291.2 accounted for QB before 3.2 sacks projected)

L.A. Rams: 8.49 PYA for 263.2 passing yards (272.4 accounted for QB before 1.5 sacks projected)

With Effective Completion Percentages of CIN 67.7% and LAR 66.2%, the expected number of completions would be:

Cincinnati: 25.2 completions

L.A. Rams: 20.5 completions

These are the key stat projections for forecasting the individual contributions to those totals.

Projecting individual stats

Quarterbacks’ Passing Stats

Here are the projected stats for the quarterbacks with the actual prop Over/Under numbers, according to Circa Sports (CS) as of Monday, and the projected wager:


Joe Burrow (CIN): Projection 25.2 (CS O/U: 24.5) — Over

Matthew Stafford (LAR): Projection 20.5 (CS O/U: 24) — Under

Passing Yards

Joe Burrow (CIN): Projection 291.2 (CS O/U: 275.5) — Over

Matthew Stafford (LAR): Projection 272.4 (CS O/U: 280.5) — Under

Quarterbacks Rushing Stats

Here are the projections for rush attempts, yards and longest rush for the two starting quarterbacks:

Rushing Yards

Joe Burrow (CIN): Projection 7.2 (CS O/U: 11.5) — Under

Matthew Stafford (LAR): Projection 8.2 (CS O/U: 4.5) — Over

Running Backs’ Rushing Stats

Here are the forecasted running backs’ rushing stats based on recent trends and the stats projected earlier:

Rushing Yards

Joe Mixon (CIN): Projection 51.4 (CS O/U: 64.5) — Under

Cam Akers (LAR): Projection 58.7 (CS O/U: 64.5) — Under

Sony Michel (LAR): Projection 26.3 (CS O/U: 19.5) — Over

Running Backs’ Receiving Stats

Here are the forecasted running backs’ receiving stats based on recent trends and the stats projected earlier:


Joe Mixon (CIN): Projection 2.1 (CS O/U: 3.5) — Under

Receiving Yards

Joe Mixon (CIN): Projection 20.1 (CS O/U: 26.5) — Under

Samaje Perine (CIN): Projection 18.1 (CS O/U: 9.5) — Over

Cam Akers (LAR): Projection 20.4 (CS O/U: 16.5) — Over

Wide Receivers’ Receiving Stats

Here are the forecasted wide receivers’ receiving stats based upon recent trends and the stats projected earlier:


J’Marr Chase (CIN): Projection 5.4 (CS O/U: 6.5) — Under

Tee Higgins (CIN): Projection 5.3 (CS O/U: 5.5) — Under

Tyler Boyd (CIN): Projection 4.4 (CS O/U: 3.5) — Over

Cooper Kupp (LAR): Projection 7.7 (CS O/U: 8.5) — Under

Odell Beckham (LAR): Projection 3.9 (CS O/U: 4.5) — Under

Van Jefferson (LAR): Projection 2.2 (CS O/U: 2.5) — Under

Receiving Yards

J’Marr Chase (CIN): Projection 77.8 (CS O/U: 79.5) — Under

Tee Higgins (CIN): Projection 83.6 (CS O/U: 69.5) — Over

Tyler Boyd (CIN): Projection 55.9 (CS O/U: 39.5) — Over

Cooper Kupp (LAR): Projection 117.7 (CS O/U: 106.5) — Over

Odell Beckham (LAR): Projection 50.1 (CS O/U: 63.5) — Under

Van Jefferson (LAR): Projection 38.7 (CS O/U: 32.5) — Over

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