QB with Betting Edge in Super Bowl: Is Brady a Lock to Win?

Jason Lake

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 7:24 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 7:24 PM GMT

The Seattle Seahawks have some variance when it comes to their quarterback. Should Super Bowl bettors invest in Tom Brady and the New England Patriots instead when they make their football picks?

Jason’s 2014-15 postseason record: 3-3 ATS, 3-2-1 Totals


Nearly every spring, struggling teams fall over themselves to draft a franchise quarterback in the first round. Sometimes it works (Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan). Sometimes it doesn’t (JaMarcus Russell, Blaine Gabbert, Matt Leinart). But it’s amazing how many quality players end up falling through the proverbial cracks. Players like the two starting quarterbacks at Super Bowl XLIX: Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.

Neither of these two gentlemen were expected to carry their teams to glory. Brady, as everyone knows by now, was taken in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Patriots, who already had Drew Bledsoe and were looking for depth. And Wilson was Seattle’s third-round pick in 2012, after Matt Flynn had been signed as a free agent to be the starter. Now Brady and Wilson are both Super Bowl champions. However, one of these quarterbacks is demonstrably better than the other, and we have to take that into account when we make our NFL picks.


Conventional Wisdom
Obviously, we’re talking about Brady here. We try not to throw the word better around lightly here – or the word is, for that matter – but Brady gives the Patriots a definite edge at quarterback on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBC). First of all, experience isn’t something you’re born with, and Brady is about to play in his sixth Super Bowl, having won three and lost two. Wilson is only in his third year as a pro.

But this isn’t going to be a movie where the wily broken-down veteran uses his street smarts to pull a fast one on the fresh-faced kid. Brady is still playing at a high level at age 37. Let’s start with a simple comparison using some of the more conventional stats that most people understand.

Brady 2014: 4,109 YDS, 64.1 CMP%, 33 TDs, nine INTs, 97.4 RATE
Wilson 2014: 3,475 YDS, 63.1 CMP%, 20 TDs, seven INTs, 95.0 RATE

Of course, this comparison is unfair to Wilson. He’s a dual-threat quarterback who led the league in rushing at his position this year with 849 yards – that’s more than Brady (57 yards in 2014) has run for in his entire career. So let’s do what we do best: step aside and let the experts do the dirty work.

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Nerds Will Save Us
As usual, the experts in this case are the statheads at Football Outsiders, who have crunched the numbers from the regular season and ranked all the quarterbacks for us. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of how Brady and Wilson shake out using more advanced metrics.

Brady 2014: 1,173 passing DYAR (No. 6), 18.1% passing DVOA (No. 8), 74.3 QBR (No. 5)
Wilson 2014: 465 passing DYAR (No. 14), 4.2% passing DVOA (No. 17), 62.5 QBR (No. 14)

Now we can start to see how much better Brady is as a thrower. DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) is a cumulative stat, so again, we need to take that with a grain of salt regarding Wilson. But the other two stats are per-attempt, and while Brady is still among the better quarterbacks in the league, Wilson is barely above average. As for the ground game, even if you throw in Wilson’s 284 rushing DYAR and Brady’s minus-19 DYAR, you still don’t come close to bridging the gap.

None of this means that Wilson isn’t the right man for the job. His versatility makes the Seahawks especially dangerous, and as we saw in the Conference Round, Wilson can make the “clutch” throws even if he’s played like hot garbage up until then. But if the two teams somehow had to trade quarterbacks before the Super Bowl, you’d better believe that the NFL odds would swing toward Brady and the Seahawks.

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