Super Bowl shared traits 3.0: Bills, Pack, Bucs


Since releasing my report a few weeks ago on the shared traits of past Super Bowl teams, I’ve received some great feedback from readers and colleagues. After taking in those ideas and doing my own research on how the playoffs have changed throughout the years, I’ve decided to update the chart one last time.

The two big changes this week:

— Trimming the qualifying field down to the eight teams remaining in the NFL playoffs.

— And perhaps more importantly, limiting the look-back period for the qualifying stats of past Super Bowl teams to just eight seasons, thus giving a better reflection of how the teams this year compare to more recent teams that have been successful.

Why eight years? Over the course of the last eight seasons, only one wild-card team has played in (and won) a Super Bowl. That team was Tampa Bay last season. Prior to that eight-year span, the playoffs went through a fruit-basket period in which any team with any seed could win just by putting a good postseason run together. By tightening our data to more recent Super Bowl teams, I think we will see some differences, but I can’t say for sure until this exercise is complete. If you recall, in both of the prior editions of this exercise, the teams that had the most shared traits in each conference were Buffalo in the AFC and Tampa Bay in the NFC.

A quick review before we get into the specific analysis. One of my favorite things to do when looking for futures wagers in any sport is to compare the resumes of current teams with those of past champions. I look at all kinds of varying characteristics, from strength ratings to momentum to raw statistics. My favorite place to use this methodology is for the NCAA tournament each March.

In the two recent editions of this exercise, I looked at the characteristics of past Super Bowl teams dating back 20 years. Again, for this update, we’ll just look at the last eight years.

You’ll see the stats I’ve chosen are body-of-work figures. In other words, they encompass the entire regular season. Here’s the list of the 27 statistical/strength characteristics I’ll be using to rate this year’s teams on their worthiness of reaching — and winning — the Super Bowl. 

— Steve Makinen’s Power Rating

— Makinen’s Effective Strength Indicator

— Makinen’s Bettors’ Rating

— Makinen’s Momentum Rating

— SU Record

— ATS Record

— Offensive PPG

— 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

— Offensive Yards per Play

— Offensive Third Down Conversion Percentage

— Defensive PPG

— 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

— Defensive Yards per Play

— Defensive Third Down Conversion Percentage

— Sacks

— Scoring Differential

— Yards per Play Differential

— Turnover Differential

— Average Time of Possession

In general, whenever I do this type of exercise, I’m typically looking for teams that share the same traits as 80% or so of the sample group. So, in order to find separation from the last 16 Super Bowl participants, I’m looking for about 13 teams to fit the bill. You will find the qualifying teams for each trait on the chart, which can be found in Point Spread Weekly. Of the Super Bowl teams since the 2013 season, approximately 80% of them:

— Had a Steve Makinen Power Rating of at least 28

— Had a Makinen Effective Strength Indicator of at least + 4.0

— Had a Makinen Bettors’ Rating of -6.0 or better

— Had a Makinen Momentum Rating of at least + 6.0

— Won at least 12 games (>=75%)

— Won at least 9 games ATS (>=56%)

— On offense, scored at least 27 PPG

— Rushed for at least 107 YPG

— Averaged at least 4.1 yards per rushing attempt

— Passed for at least 230 YPG

— Averaged at least 7.15 yards per passing attempt

— Gained at least 365 total yards per game

— Averaged at least 5.7 yards per play

— Converted at least 43.5% of third-down opportunities

— On defense, allowed no more than 23 PPG or fewer

— Allowed no more than 115 rushing yards per game

— Allowed no more than 4.5 yards per rushing attempt

— Allowed no more than 238 passing yards per game

— Allowed no more than 6.7 yards per passing attempt

— Allowed no more than 360 total yards per game

— Allowed no more than 5.8 yards per play

— Allowed no more than 40% of third-down conversions

— Recorded at least 2.1 sacks per game

— Outscored opponents by at least 8.0 PPG

— Outgained opponents by at least 0.3 yards per play

— Had a turnover differential of at least + 6

— Averaged at least 30.3 minutes time of possession

Qualifying each of the remaining eight NFL teams, we come up with the final chart, with marks indicating when a team meets the criteria for that statistic.

To see the final chart, look for this week's edition of Point Spread Weekly at

Again, theoretically, the more marks, the more qualified that team is to make a run at the Super Bowl. 

The chart shows Buffalo head and shoulders above any other team in the AFC. Interestingly, the AFC’s two home teams this weekend scored lower in this edition of the exercise. It could be a good opportunity to back the road underdogs. 

In the NFC, Tampa Bay and Green Bay share identical scores, perhaps putting them on a collision course for a rematch in the NFC title game. Both the Bucs and Packers are five marks better than their opponents this weekend and will be playing at home.

One other note to consider: In last week’s updated report, the three teams that rated the lowest ahead of wild-card weekend were all beaten both outright and ATS, two of them in convincing fashion. That is no accident.

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