Statsational Super Bowl Selection

By | February 4, 2013
One more game left to put another successful season in the books.  119-88-9 overall with a 7-1-1 run in the post season.  Last week was nearly a sweep but we won’t cry over it.  I do not think we had the better team in Atlanta so a push will have to do.  As far as Baltimore goes it was a comfortable win after not looking shaky early.
As always the Super Bowl is the most bet game of the year in any sport.  There is no reason to ever treat this game differently than any other when you are a bettor.  Play the game as if it was week 10.  That said if you want to get in some office pools or a box pool or you see some value in some props (not the coin toss) then by all means go for it.  But don’t ever let the Super Bowl dictate the success or failure of your season.

It is hard to look at specific trends for Super Bowls because the data set is so small.  The system will mostly look at this game as it does other games with a couple of added trends. 

Teams coming into the Super Bowl winning back to back games as a favorite have lost 9 straight Super Bowls ATS going back to 2001.  I toss out 2004 and 2009 when both teams were in the same situation.

Teams coming into the Super Bowl winning back to back games as a dog have won 6 Straight with Tenn pushing a game that they should have covered in 1999.

Teams with a better win percentage than their opponent are 2-12 ATS and 0 for the last 9.

While not a lot of games the reason these are significant is because there is an obvious bias against teams that have been underdogs coming into the Super Bowl.  They are often viewed as a luckier team than their counterpart who, by the numbers, is much more deserving.  So with that the line can be skewed a bit in the favorites direction.  I think we saw that with this Super Bowl as the initial numbers that came out of -5 were quickly bet down to -3.5 by sharp bettors everywhere.  Even if they were not big on Baltimore they knew there was value in that early number.

Watching the games my eyes tell me that San Francisco is the better team.  In my Playoff Analysis piece I had SF as a team that should be bet to win the whole thing.  If Baltimore were to win they would statistically be one of the worst teams to win it all, just ahead of the 2011 Giants.  But sometimes your eyes can be deceiving.  I do not know many people who are debating whether Alex Smith should be the QB of this team now.  Everyone is in agreement that Harbaugh made the right call in starting Kaepernick.  But are they better?

During the games Alex Smith started this season the Niners were 6-2-1.  With Kaepernick the Niners are 7-2-1.  Alex Smith was scoring 23.67 ppg while the defense was giving up 14.11 ppg.  With Kaepernick they score 28.55 ppg and give up 22.33 ppg.  Perhaps they are playing tougher teams in the last 9 games and the numbers are skewed?  Well under Smith the team scored .8 ppg more than their opponents give up and they allowed 8.4ppg less than opponents scored. Under Kaepernick they are scoring 7.5 ppg more than opponents give up while conceding 2 ppg less than their opponents score.  Their power ranking number is virtually the same as it was before starting Kaepernick.  What we are seeing is the defense was helped by the play calling during the Alex Smith games.  Alex Smith completed 70.2% of his passes this season and averaged 7.97 yds/a.  To put that in perspective Aaron Rodgers completed 67.2% of his passes for 7.78 yds/a and Peyton Manning completed 68.6% of his passes for 7.99 yds/a.  Kaepernick has completed 62.4% of his passes for 8.32 yds/a.  He threw the same number of passes as Smith did, 218.  So we see the game plan with Smith was to throw it a little shorter and control the ball more with the running game.  Kaepernick has the big arm and the team is more apt to let him throw it down the field.  They also add the wrinkle of being able to run with the QB now.  But statistically this team is just as good before as they are now.

A major change took place in Baltimore as well with a lot less fanfare.  Baltimore changed their offensive coordinator in December when they let Cam Cameron go and brought in Jim Caldwell.  I have run the numbers before the change and after.  Before the team was scoring 2.3 ppg above the average their opponents give up while allowing .84 ppg less than their opponents scored on average.  After the change they are scoring 6.2 ppg more than their opponents give up on average and they are holding teams to 3.9 ppg less than they score on average.  So while the offense has improved, so has the defense.  This move may have been more of a wake up call to the rest of the team, as Cam Cameron has said himself.  Their power ranking for this time period puts them ahead of the San Francisco Kaepernick games by 1.5 points.

We have had Baltimore all 3 weeks and we have them one last time.  We are on the public play but it worked in the Championship game so we hope it works again.

Super Bowl
1. Baltimore +3.5……………61%

BOL and thanks for the continued support and great season