NFL Betting: Regular Season Numbers That Stand Out When Picking A Super Bowl Winner

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, July 9, 2015 6:28 PM GMT

Look, if I could project the winner of Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California, right now, I wouldn't be posting this story but on a yacht somewhere in the Caribbean. But looking at recent Super Bowl winners, what regular season numbers stand out?

Turnover Margin
It's no secret teams that win the turnover margin win NFL games, regular season or playoffs, a vast majority of the time. One recent study in turnover percentage over an entire regular season showed that the teams that finished in the Top 10 of that category combined for a winning percentage north of 65 percent -- so those teams won on average about 10.4 games per season.

In 2014, your Top 5 teams in turnover plus/minus were Green Bay (plus-14), New England (plus-12), Houston (plus-12), Seattle (plus-10) and Arizona (plus-8). All those teams but Houston won at least 11 games and the Texans finished 9-7 (despite questionable quarterback play) and just missed an AFC wild-card spot.

Of course New England beat Seattle in the Super Bowl -- thanks to a Russell Wilson interception at the Patriots goal line in the final seconds. Actually, the Patriots turned it over twice in that game and Seattle only once so there are always exceptions to the rule. It was only the fourth time a team had more turnovers than its opponent and won in the Super Bowl.

In 2013, the Top 5 teams in turnover plus/minus were Seattle (plus-20), Kansas City (plus-18), Indianapolis (plus-13), San Francisco (plus-12) and Philadelphia (plus-12). All those teams won double-digit games and made the playoffs. The Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos (zero regular-season plus/minus) in a Super Bowl rout, with the Seahawks forcing four turnovers and committing none.

 

Closing Regular Season Hot Is Overrated
In baseball, we see teams that get hot at the end of the regular season, especially wild-card teams, go on to win the World Series. But closing the regular season in the NFL on a roll is wildly overrated by NFL odds makers. Now, part of this can be attributed to many teams having nothing to play for in Week 17 with a playoff seed already locked in. That was the case for last season's Patriots. They didn't care less about their 2014 regular-season finale against Buffalo with the top seed clinched and lost 17-9 at home to the Bills, a team New England always beats. Last year's Seahawks closed the regular season on a six-game winning streak but that didn't matter in the Super Bowl.

The 2013 Seahawks lost two of their final four regular-season games before rolling to the franchise's first Super Bowl title. The last Super Bowl champion to win its last five games of the regular season or go undefeated in the month December was the 2003 Patriots.

 

Third-Down Efficiency
The team that has a better third-down efficiency in the Super Bowl is 33-12 all time (a few ties). In last season's Super Bowl, the Patriots were 8-for-14 and Seattle only 3-for-10. And in the regular season? The Patriots ranked sixth in that category at 44.3 percent, while Seattle was 11th at 42.5.

In 2013, Denver was second at 46.3 percent and Seattle only 17th at 37.3 percent. In the Super Bowl, Seattle was slightly better at 7-for-12 with Denver at 6-for-13 and some of those Broncos conversions came when the game was out of reach. The Seahawks were better on defensive third-down efficiency than the Broncos were in the regular season.

 

Don't Pick A Regular Season QB MVP
The 2014 NFL MVP was Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and his Packers were beaten in Seattle in the NFC Championship Game. The Super Bowl before that, the Broncos' Peyton Manning was the MVP after a record-setting season but had an ineffective Super Bowl.

The NFL regular-season MVP gone to a quarterback 34 times in the Super Bowl era. But that MVP's team has won the Super Bowl just six times. The last QB to win the regular-season MVP and win the Super Bowl in the same season was the Rams' Kurt Warner, who also won the Super Bowl XXXIV MVP award. The Patriots' Tom Brady lost both his Super Bowls when he won MVP.