Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
Have you picked a winner for this year’s Super Bowl?
Here’s my contribution to the madness. I’ve looked at 15 regular season stats from the past 46 Super Bowl champions. In some cases, there is a strong case for a particular team winning based on how they performed in the regular season. In other cases, the regular season stats don’t reveal much.
Following are 15 regular season stats that may help determine who will win Sunday’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.
1. Wins. Thirty-nine of the 46 Super Bowl champs won 11 or more games in the regular season. Only three times in Super Bowl history did a team with less than 10 regular season victories win the Super Bowl: The first two were in 1967, when the Packers were 9-4-1, and 1982 when the 8-1 Washington Redskins won the title in that strike-shortened season. In case you don’t remember, the last year’s champs, the New York Giants, became the third team in this stat when they defeated the New England Patriots. The Giants only had nine regular-season wins in 2011; they became the first team with less than 10 wins from a 16-game NFL season to ever win a Super Bowl. San Francisco won 11 games this year; Baltimore won 10.
2. Turnover Ratio. Forty of the 46 Super Bowl champs had a positive turnover ratio; 21 of the 46 had a +10 or more turnover ratio in the regular season. Both teams in this year’s Super Bowl had a regular-season turnover ratio of +9
3. Offensive rank by points. Thirty-nine of the 46 were in the Top 10 in offense based on points. Baltimore ranked 10th this year; San Francisco ranked 11th.
4. Offensive rank based on yards. Thirty-six of the 46 were in the Top 10 in offense based on total yards. Both of this year’s teams ranked outside the Top 10; the 49ers were 11th, the Ravens were 16th.
5. Defensive Rank by Points. Thirty-five of the 46 were in the Top 10 in defense based on points. The lowest ranked defense (by points) to win a Super Bowl were the 2011 Giants, who were ranked 25th last year on their way to a title. The 49ers were ranked second this year, the Ravens were 12th.
6. Defensive rank based on yards. Thirty-eight of the 46 ranked in the Top 10 in defense based on total yards allowed. The Giants last year established a new “low” in this stat as they won the Super Bowl with a “D” that was ranked 27th in yards allowed. San Francisco was ranked third this year, the Ravens were ranked 17th.
7. Offensive yards per play. Thirty-seven of the 46 Super Bowl champs averaged 5.0 or more yards per play during the regular season. Twenty-two of the 46 averaged 5.5 or more yards per play. This year in the regular season San Francisco was at 6.0 yards per play, Baltimore was at 5.4.
8. Three-game losing streak. Only four teams that lost three straight games during the regular season went on to win a Super Bowl that year: Baltimore in 2000, Pittsburgh in 2005, New Orleans in 2009 and the Giants last year. San Francisco did not lose three straight games this year; the Ravens did lose three straight this year.
9. Winning streak to start season. Thirteen of the 46 won five straight games to start the season; 22 won three straight games to start the season; 30 of the 46 won their first two games. San Francisco won their first two games of the 2012 regular season; Baltimore lost their second game of the year.
10. Away wins. Forty-five of the 46 won four or more games on the road in the regular season. The 2011 Green Bay Packers are the only team to win a Super Bowl and win three or fewer games on the road that regular season. Thirty-six of the 46 lost none, one or two away games during the regular season of their Super Bowl year. San Francisco went 5-3 on the road this season; Baltimore was 4-4 in away games.
11. 1,000-yard rusher. Twenty-seven of the 46 had a 1,000-yard rusher during the regular season. Both teams in this year’s Super Bowl had a 1,000-yard rusher this season.
12. 1,000-yard receiver. Twenty-five of the 46 had a 1,000-yard receiver during the regular season. The 49ers had a 1,000-yard receiver this season, the Ravens did not.
13. More passing TDs than running TDs. Thirty-three of the 46 had more passing TDs than running TDs for the regular season. Both teams this year had more passing TDs than rushing. The last time a team that had more rushing TDs than passing in the regular season won a Super Bowl were the 1995 Dallas Cowboys.
14. Losses by eight points or less. Thirty-nine of the 46 lost half or more of their defeats by one score (eight points or less). San Francisco lost four games this year, only one by eight points or less. Baltimore lost six games this year, four of them by one score.
15. Point differential rank. Thirty-eight of the 46 ranked in the Top 3 in point differential in the regular season. Only two teams have ranked outside the Top 10 in point differential and won the Super Bowl: the New York Giants of 2007 ranked 13th in point differential when they won the Super Bowl later that year, and last year when the Giants ranked 17th in point differential in the regular season and won last year’s championship. The 49ers ranked fourth this year in this category, the Ravens ranked 11th.
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