Super Bowl Super Study Says Patriots, Broncos Built Like Champs

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 06, 2013



5. No Need for a Big Leap of Faith

While nearly all of this data focus on the “here and now” of the season, there is something to understand about what a championship team did relative to the previous season. Normally, teams that make a huge improvement from the previous season need to earn stripes in the postseason before they make a Super Bowl run. Meanwhile, a significantly-declining team rarely makes a Super Bowl run, and instead normally fade away in the playoffs.

The table below look at each Super Bowl combatant’s win differential from the previous season. Note that the 1978 Steelers and 1978 Cowboys played two more games than they did in 1977, so those results may be skewed. Also, the 1982 strike-season significantly skews those stats. Therefore, any seasons with an inconsistent amount of games will have a prorated win differential. The numbers for prorating the 1982 season are considered unreliable.

Winners

Losers

SB

Team

Differential

 

SB

Team

Differential

I66 Packers

+1.5

 I66 Chiefs

+3.5

II67 Packers

-2.5

 II67 Raiders

+4.5

III68 Jets

+2.5

 III68 Colts

+1.5

IV69 Chiefs

-1

 IV69 Vikings

+4

V70 Colts

+3

 V70 Cowboys

-1.5

VI71 Cowboys

+1

 VI71 Dolphins

+0.5

VII72 Dolphins

+3.5

 VII72 Redskins

+1.5

VIII73 Dolphins

-2

 VIII73 Vikings

+5

IX74 Steelers

+0.5

 IX74 Vikings

-2

X75 Steelers

+1.5

 X75 Cowboys

+2

XI76 Raiders

+2

 XI76 Vikings

-0.5

XII77 Cowboys

+1

 XII77 Broncos

+3

XIII78 Steelers

+3.7

 XIII78 Cowboys

-1.7

XIV79 Steelers

-2

 XIV79 Rams

-3

XV80 Raiders

+2

 XV80 Eagles

+1

XVI81 49ers

+7

 XVI81 Bengals

+6

XVII82 Redskins

+6.2

 XVII82 Dolphins

+0.9

XVIII83 Raiders

-2.2

 XVIII83 Redskins

-0.2

XIX84 49ers

+5

 XIX84 Dolphins

+2

XX85 Bears

+5

 XX85 Patriots

+2

XXI86 Giants

+4

 XXI86 Broncos

Even

XXII87 Redskins

-0.3

 XXII87 Broncos

+0.2

XXIII88 49ers

-3.9

 XXIII88 Bengals

+7.7

XXIV89 49ers

+4

 XXIV89 Broncos

+3

XXV90 Giants

+1

 XXV90 Bills

+4

XXVI91 Redskins

+2

 XXVI91 Bills

Even

XXVII92 Cowboys

+2

 XXVII92 Bills

-2

XXVIII93 Cowboys

-1

 XXVIII93 Bills

+1

XXIX94 49ers

+3

 XXIX94 Chargers

+3

XXX95 Cowboys

Even

 XXX95 Steelers

-1

XXXI96 Packers

+2

 XXXI96 Patriots

+5

XXXII97 Broncos

-1

 XXXII97 Packers

Even

XXXIII98 Broncos

+2

 XXXIII98 Falcons

+7

XXXIV99 Rams

+9

 XXXIV99 Titans

+5

XXXV00 Ravens

+4

 XXXV00 Giants

+5

XXXVI01 Patriots

+6

 XXXVI01 Rams

+4

XXXVII02 Bucs

+3

 XXXVII02 Raiders

+1

XXXVIII03 Patriots

+5

 XXXVIII03 Panthers

+4

XXXIX04 Patriots

Even

 XXXIX04 Eagles

+1

XL05 Steelers

-4

 XL05 Seahawks

+4

XLI06 Colts

-2

 XLI06 Bears

+2

XLII07 Giants

+2

 XLII07 Patriots

+4

XLIII08 Steelers

+2

 XLIII08 Cardinals

+1

XLIV09 Saints

+5

 XLIV09 Colts

+2

XLV10 Packers

-1

 XLV10 Steelers

+3

XLVI11 Giants

-1

 XLVI11 Patriots

-1

Given the ability to go from a competitive team (8-8 or 9-7) to go to an elite team (13-3 or 14-2), it seems like the upper bound should be a five-game improvement. Meanwhile, because a few plays can impact a handful of games, the lower bound should be a two-game decline.

Among the playoff teams, the 2012 Broncos just make the cut. They along the lines of non-outlying champions like the 2003 Patriots and 2009 Saints. Meanwhile, the 2012 Redskins also improved by five games, but they double their win total. Perhaps this could be invested further with a win differential study by percentages.

While two just missed the cut, two teams made the cut and will be the front-running candidates for overall regression in 2013. The 2012 Colts improved from 2-14 to go 11-5 despite the interim change of Chuck Pagano to Bruce Arians as head coach. Perhaps Pagano’s battle against Leukemia was the most inspirational story in the NFL this season. Meanwhile, the 2012 Vikings improved from 3-13 to go 10-6 as Adrian Peterson pursued the single-season rushing record less than a year removed from suffering a significant knee injury. While both stories are quite amazing, those regular season fairy tales will suffer a rude awakening in the postseason.

On the other side, the 2012 Packers regressed from 15-1 to 11-5, but they fit a similar path to that of the 2005 Steelers. Simple regression can explain this outlier, so the Packers’ chances aren’t severely hurt.

 

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