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The Super Bowl is Super Hard To Predict



It was tradition in this space for John Dewan to devise a Super Bowl prediction system using a variety of statistical categories to pick the winner during Super Bowl week.

So we’ve tried to find a way to modernize that.

We’ve got Total Points, our player value stat, back to 2016, and can tell you which players and teams rank best in Points Earned or Points Saved per play for Passing, Rushing, Receiving, Blocking, Pass Rush, Pass Defense, and Run Defense combining the regular season and postseason.

We have data on the last five Super Bowls:

In those five games, the team with more advantages (by ranking) over its opponent in the core areas we just mentioned has only won twice.

The 2020 Buccaneers, who had more Blocking Points Earned Per Play and more Points Saved Per Play in all three defensive facets (Pass Rush, Pass Coverage, Run Defense) last season were one of those teams. The 2017 Eagles, who beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, were the other.

The 2016 Patriots had three advantages among the seven stat categories but came from behind to beat the Falcons.

The 2018 Patriots and 2019 Chiefs both had advantages in only two areas of Points Earned/Saved Per Play. The Patriots' were in Passing and Blocking against the Rams. The Chiefs' were in Passing and Receiving against the 49ers. But they were still able to win the Super Bowl.

And there’s no clearly predictive element among these particular stats either.

The team with better Blocking Points Earned Per Play has won three of the last five Super Bowls. The team with more Pass Coverage Points Saved Per Play has won three of the last five as well. And so has the team with more Run Defense Points Saved Per Play.

One oddity to come from all of this. The team with fewer Rushing Points Earned has won four of the last five Super Bowls. And the team with fewer Receiving Points Earned has also won four of the last five.

All that said, this game has something that the other five did not. The Rams have edges in six of the seven statistical categories. The only area in which the Bengals perform better than the Rams is in Rushing Points Earned Per Play.

Bottom line: Total Points is a good stat. But this is one game and the Super Bowl is super-hard to predict, whichever system you use. Enjoy watching it!


(Points Earned/Saved Per Play)

Team With More … * 2022 Team With Advantage
Passing Won 2 of 5 Rams
Rushing Won 1 of 5 Bengals
Receiving Won 1 of 5 Rams
Blocking Won 3 of 5 Rams
Pass Rush Won 2 of 5 Rams
Pass Defense Won 3 of 5 Rams
Run Defense Won 3 of 5 Rams

* Read this as: Team with more (category) has won X of the last 5 Super Bowls

P.S: If you’re curious what John Dewan’s old system projects, it has the Rams ahead in 7 of 12 statistical categories (though the two teams barely differ in most of them). The Bengals are ahead in 4 and the teams are even in another.

P.P.S.: If you’re into Super Bowl predictions related to player performance, check out Corey March and Stephen Polacheck's articles on Sharp Football Analysis later this week.

And check out The Off The Charts Football Podcast for plenty of Super Bowl talk.

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