Super Bowl Sunday has finally arrived and we have a wealth of information to apply to our NFL picks. Join this handicapper as he dissects the odds, trends & stats for Patriots & Seahawks.
This is the second of a four part article I will author regarding this year’s Super Bowl. In the first article, I examined how the teams reached the Super Bowl berth and dissected each team from a technical perspective, with a variety of point spread trends. In this second article, I will examine the teams from a fundamental perspective, using a statistical analysis to dissect each club. The third article will be a situational look at factors that will likely influence this week’s game. Finally, in the fourth article I will draw conclusions for the point spread and over/under winner of the Super Bowl. Note that this year’s game should be played in balmy conditions, approaching 70 degrees with winds light and variable, under 10 mph.
New England enters the playoffs at 14-4 SU. In 2014, they outscored foes by an average of 30-20. Their running game averaged 27 carries per game for 106 RYPG at 3.9 YPR. The Patriots threw the ball an average of 39 times per game, completing 65% of their passes for an average of 6.8 yards per attempt. The offense totaled 370 YPG. On defense, foes ran 26 times per game against New England for an average of 105 YPG on 4.0 YPR. The opposition completed 59% of their passes for 6.5 yards per attempt. The defense allowed 341 YPG. From a yards per play perspective, New England outgained their opponents 5.6 to 5.5 yards per play.
Seattle outscored their foes by an average of 25-16 this year. Their run based offense averaged 33 carries per game for 170 RPG on 5.2 YPR. Seattle only passed the ball 28 times per game, completing 63% of their passes for an efficient 7.3 yards per attempt. The offense totaled 375 YPG. On defense, the Seahawks were again superlative. Foes ran the ball on them an average of only 25 times per game, for an average of 87 RYPG on 3.6 YPR. They held foes to only 62% completions for just 5.8 yards per attempt. Seattle featured the league best defense that allowed just 274 YPG. From a yards per play perspective, Seattle outgained their opponent 6.2 to 4.8 yards per play, the latter number being the best in the NFL.
When New England Has the Ball
It should come as no surprise to veteran NFL bettors that the Belichick/Brady brain trust excels against elite defenses. This year, New England recorded a record of 7-2 SU against top 10 defenses they faced. Brady was superb, passing for over 300 PYPG, completing 66% of his passes for a 22/7 ratio. They needed that aerial success, as they could average just 66/3.2 overland in those games. From the statistics above, you can see that the Patriots will have a hard time establishing a ground game against Seattle. Rather, they will rely on a triumvirate of receivers. These include a possession receiver in Edelman, WR Lafell, and the big play receiver in Gronkowski. But Seattle enters this game outgaining their foes 13 consecutive games, allowing just 251 YPG in that time frame. When facing an elite signal caller in QB Rodgers two weeks ago, the Packers could throw for just 171 yards on 19/34. It is no sure thing that, at least in the early going, QB Brady has success against this unit.
When Seattle Has the Ball
It is clear that Seattle is a run based defense behind RB Lynch. The 33/170/5.2 ground game was the best in the league. It is balanced by QB Wilson, who is wise beyond his years, throws with unusual accuracy and power, while avoiding pressure with his agility; it would appear he is the perfect complement to this run based offense. Note that Seattle relies on this ground game to the point where they average only 28 passes per game. But if there is one NFL coach who has the experience and expertise to close down an offense that would be HC Belichick of New England. In the early going, it will be an intriguing game of cat and mouse, as New England offers multiple defensive looks in an effort to confuse QB Wilson. The team who wins this matchup has a huge edge in the eventual outcome.
This fundamental, statistically based analysis will be integrated with my previous article on tech and trends, along with my situational analysis, leading to the conclusion on Friday of this week regarding the pointspread (as high as +/-2 at Bovada) and OVER/UNDER winners.