Statsational Super Bowl Selection

By | February 2, 2014
The championship games played out just as we thought.  With the weather perfect in Denver Peyton Manning was able to have his way with the New England Patriots.  The game was not as close as the score indicated.  In the second game it was a tough battle but, as we figured, Kaepernick lost the game turning it over 3 times late.

Before the Championship games the potential Seattle/Denver matchup had Seattle -1.  When the games ended some places opened the game at Seattle -1 and others a pk.  Within hours the money flooded in on Denver and the line went up to 2.5 and in some spots 3 in favor of Denver.  Generally that early money is smart money since the public won’t be betting this game until Sunday.  The smart money wants to get the best line they can. They knew the public would be on Denver so getting Denver at a pk had great value.  If they like Denver they could keep their bets.  If they wanted to bet Seattle they could get a better line and if they wanted to just hedge they could play for a middle with Seattle.  This is how the professionals will handle a game like this as opposed to an average bettor.

So why does the public love Denver?  Going into the championship games both San Francisco and New England were getting the public backing.  The reason Denver was faded was because of Mannings lack of success in the post season and against Brady.  When Denver came out and looked unstoppable the public changed quickly.  Everyone knows how good Manning is and when you go against him and he picks you apart you want desperately to get back on his side.  Its psychological.  You just do not think he can be stopped when he is on a roll.  I was out watching the games and I heard the same things over and over.  “Manning is on a mission.”  “Manning won’t let this team lose”.  Compare that to what I heard hours earlier “Manning is awful in the playoffs.” “Manning can’t beat Brady”  etc.  The public is very fickle.

Seattle, on the other hand, were not the public choice against San Francisco and they easily could have lost the game.  In the public’s mind they had the game right, San Francisco was the better team.  So they take that feeling and couple it with the feeling of not being able to stop Manning and you have a very one sided bet game from the public.  That is not to say the public can not be correct.  The public was all over Auburn over Florida St while the smart money loved FSU and the public had that game pegged perfectly.

Both teams are very evenly matched up.  Both went 13-3 in the regular season.  Both were their conferences 1 seed.  Seattle was the best defense in the league while Denver was the best offense.  This is the 5th time we have a matchup of the best offense against the best defense.  The defense is 3-1 so far.  ’78 Steelers, ’84 49ers, 90 ‘Giants were all top defensive teams that defeated the top offense that year.  Only the 1989 49ers were able to win as the top offense in the league against the number 1 defense.  Many people have talked about this but few have mentioned the other side of the ball for the teams involved in these Super Bowls.  In my pre playoff analysis I showed how being efficient in the passing game was a key to Super Bowl success.  In 1978 Pittsburgh was 1 in offensive yards per pass attempt.  In 1984 San Francisco was 3 and in 1990 the NY Giants were 9.  The 1989 49ers team with the top offense ranked 3 in defensive yards per passing attempt.  So these teams were not just dominant on one side of the ball.  They were dominant on both.  Seattle this season is 2 in OYPPA and 1 in DYPPA.  Denver was 3 in OYPPA but just 15 in DYPPA.  Seattle is the more dominant team on both sides of the ball.

From a YPPA standpoint this game resembles the Super Bowl 1991.  Washington was 1 in OYPPA and 2 on DYPPA.  Buffalo was 3 in OYPPA and 13 in DYPPA.  In that game the offenses dominated.  Buffalo gave up 37 points in the game in large part to Kelly throwing 4 picks.  That Washington team threw the ball deep really well as does this Seattle team.  Mark Rypien was 249-421 for 3564 Yards with a 97.9 QB rating and 8.47 YPA.  Wilson, this season, 257-407 for 3357 yards with a 101.2 QB rating and 8.2 YPA.  The biggest difference is their ability to run.  Rypien had no ability and Wilson is one of the better scramblers we have seen.

One team scored over 30 on Seattle this year.  The Colts put up 34 at home against the Seahawks in week 5.  A look at the boxscore however shows that the defense played fairly well.  7 points came off a blocked fg.  Luck threw for just 208 yards on 16 of 29.  The Colts ran it for 109 on 29 attempts.  The Seahawks were killed with penalties.  7 for 85 yards.  Typically a game like that you would see about 18-21 points for the Colts.  So it was a bit of an anomaly.

The lowest points scored for Denver was that San Diego game.  San Diego was able to stop the run.  Denver ran for just 18 yards on 11 attempts.  Manning was 27-41 for 277.  This is the type of game Seattle will need to play.
Seattle has been very good on offense averaging almost 26 ppg.  They score 3.5 more points per game then their opponents give up.  The Denver defense has given up 24 ppg.  They give up .5 ppg more than their opponents score.  The Denver defense does get better when the offense plays more of a ball control style.  They give up a lot of points because their offense is scoring so much.  The Denver defense has played well in the playoffs.  The San Diego game was near impossible to throw the ball.  That was one of the windiest games I have ever seen.  The New England performance was more impressive although going in we did say New England was a bit overrated.
Russel Wilson is 7-1 ATS as an Underdog.  Peyton Manning is 2-7 ATS off a bye week in the post season.  For some reason the off week has not helped Manning much.  Perhaps the week off takes him out of his rhythm a bit.
If you like experience as a factor consider the more experienced Super Bowl team since 1990 has won just 8 times.Seattle had an average O/U this season of 43.  The total for this game is 47.  Teams in the postseason playing in a game with a higher O/U than their season average and who have a + Interception Differential over their last 3 games win ATS at a 61% clip. 

We spoke about defensive penalties going in to the NFC Championship game.  The league has made an effort to let these guys play.  The Super Bowl will be no different.  Last year there were no defensive holding penalties and 1 defensive pass interference calls.  This plays right into Seattle’s hands.  They want to play this game physical with the Denver WR’s.  In the colder temperatures, and if there is any wind, Seattle is going to play tight to the Denver receivers.  This will disrupt the timing that Manning needs to be successful.  This will force Manning to try and go deep and/or run the ball.  Both of which I do not expect them to do well.  Look for Manning to turn it over more than Wilson does and that becomes the deciding factor in this game.
So many of the trends in the model were offset meaning both sides fit.  We did however get slightly more on the Seattle side and as such they become a small percentage play.  Take the game now because if the weather does change for the worse the line will get closer to a pick.
Super Bowl
1. Seattle +2……………..54%

Thank you all for being part of another winning NFL season.  106-89-6 going into this weekend.  Follow on twitter for the NBA/CBB/NHL selections everyday.