Super Study Breakdown of Super Bowl XLVII, Part 1

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 31, 2013



By Adam Dobrowolski (@tabsports)
Cold, Hard Football Facts Super-Powered Mathlete


While this week's preparation for Super Bowl XLVII primarily talks about a new precedent (brothers facing off against each other as head coaches) and a last ride (Ray Lewis playing in his final game before retirement), the Mainstream Media forgets what's truly driving the narrative for this year's big game: more of the same.

We have more of the same because once again an unlikely team makes a run towards the Super Bowl. For the fifth time in six years, one of the Super Bowl combatants owns a 9-7 or 10-6 regular season record. Meanwhile, a win by the San Francisco 49ers would mean the league's two seeds have four Super Bowl victories since realignment in 2002, and that's the only seed that won more than two league championships in the past decade.

In fact, from 2005 to 2011, only the six seeds won multiple Super Bowls. Furthermore, the one seeds are 1-6 in their last seven Super Bowls, with the only win coming in Super Bowl XLIV (one seed Indianapolis Colts over one seed New Orleans Saints). Before 2005, only four teams that didn't earn one or two seeds won the Super Bowl (2000 Ravens, 1997 Broncos, 1988 49ers and 1980 Raiders). That means more teams with three seed or higher (five) won a Super Bowl in the last seven years than they did in the first 39 years (four).

What's the deal? The answer needs a lengthy analysis, and that's probably something best suited for the offseason. However, in the spirit of Super Bowl XLVII, we look back to our epic Super Study that analyzed how every Super Bowl combatant stacked up according to 12 possible red flags.

Overall, the study suggested the 2012 49ers had two red flags that could prevent them from making a run to win Super Bowl XLVII, while the 2012 Ravens had six red flags that suggested this run was indeed an unlikely and special one.

Of the last eight seasons, each Super Bowl champion by red flags: 2005 Steelers (two), 2006 Colts (four), 2007 Giants (ten), 2008 Steelers (zero), 2009 Saints (three), 2010 Packers (three), 2011 Giants (seven). Only seven champions have at least three red flags.

Meanwhile, each Super Bowl loser by red flags: 2005 Seahawks (one), 2006 Bears (one), 2007 Patriots (zero), 2008 Cardinals (six), 2009 Colts (one), 2010 Steelers (zero), 2011 Patriots (one). This paints a picture that underdogs are winning championships, unlike during the first four decades of the Super Bowl.

So does that mean the Ravens are going to continue trend by upsetting the 49ers? We examine some of the key match-ups by breaking down the epic Super Study in this four-part series. Today, we look each team's regular season record and their various splits.

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First, let's look overall record with home and road splits. As you'll see, the recent trend of Super Bowl winners reflects a four-year stretch of weak AFC Champions from 1985 to 1988. Do these stretches suggest that a .500 road record isn't as harmful as the Super Study originally illustrated?

Here's what the Super Study showed for each Super Bowl champion and the home/road splits.

Winners

Losers

SB

Team

W-L (H/A)

 

SB

Team

W-L (H/A)

I66 Packers

12-2 (6-1/6-1)

 I66 Chiefs

11-2-1 (4-2-1/7-0)

II67 Packers

9-4-1 (4-2-1/5-2)

 II67 Raiders

13-1 (7-0/6-1)

III68 Jets

11-3 (6-1/5-2)

 III68 Colts

13-1 (6-1/7-0)

IV69 Chiefs

11-3 (6-1/5-2)

 IV69 Vikings

12-2 (7-0/5-2)

V70 Colts

11-2-1 (5-1-1/6-1)

 V70 Cowboys

10-4 (6-1/4-3)

VI71 Cowboys

11-3 (6-1/5-2)

 VI71 Dolphins

10-3-1 (6-1/4-2-1)

VII72 Dolphins

14-0 (7-0/7-0)

 VII72 Redskins

11-3 (6-1/5-2)

VIII73 Dolphins

12-2 (7-0/5-2)

 VIII73 Vikings

12-2 (7-0/5-2)

IX74 Steelers

10-3-1 (5-2/5-1-1)

 IX74 Vikings

10-4 (4-3/6-1)

X75 Steelers

12-2 (6-1/6-1)

 X75 Cowboys

10-4 (5-2/5-2)

XI76 Raiders

13-1 (7-0/6-1)

 XI76 Vikings

11-2-1 (6-0-1/5-2)

XII77 Cowboys

12-2 (6-1/6-1)

 XII77 Broncos

12-2 (6-1/6-1)

XIII78 Steelers

14-2 (7-1/7-1)

 XIII78 Cowboys

12-4 (7-1/5-3)

XIV79 Steelers

12-4 (8-0/4-4)

 XIV79 Rams

9-7 (4-4/5-3)

XV80 Raiders

11-5 (6-2/5-3)

 XV80 Eagles

12-4 (7-1/5-3)

XVI81 49ers

13-3 (7-1/6-2)

 XVI81 Bengals

12-4 (6-2/6-2)

XVII82 Redskins

8-1 (3-1/5-0)

 XVII82 Dolphins

7-2 (4-0/3-2)

XVIII83 Raiders

12-4 (6-2/6-2)

 XVIII83 Redskins

14-2 (7-1/7-1)

XIX84 49ers

15-1 (7-1/8-0)

 XIX84 Dolphins

14-2 (7-1/7-1)

XX85 Bears

15-1 (8-0/7-1)

 XX85 Patriots

11-5 (7-1/4-4)

XXI86 Giants

14-2 (8-0/6-2)

 XXI86 Broncos

11-5 (7-1/4-4)

XXII87 Redskins

11-4 (6-1/5-3)

 XXII87 Broncos

10-4-1 (7-1/3-3-1)

XXIII88 49ers

10-6 (4-4/6-2)

 XXIII88 Bengals

12-4 (8-0/4-4)

XXIV89 49ers

14-2 (6-2/8-0)

 XXIV89 Broncos

11-5 (6-2/5-3)

XXV90 Giants

13-3 (7-1/6-2)

 XXV90 Bills

13-3 (8-0/5-3)

XXVI91 Redskins

14-2 (7-1/7-1)

 XXVI91 Bills

13-3 (7-1/6-2)

XXVII92 Cowboys

13-3 (7-1/6-2)

 XXVII92 Bills

11-5 (6-2/5-3)

XXVIII93 Cowboys

12-4 (6-2/6-2)

 XXVIII93 Bills

12-4 (6-2/6-2)

XXIX94 49ers

13-3 (7-1/6-2)

 XXIX94 Chargers

11-5 (5-3/6-2)

XXX95 Cowboys

12-4 (6-2/6-2)

 XXX95 Steelers

11-5 (6-2/5-3)

XXXI96 Packers

13-3 (8-0/5-3)

 XXXI96 Patriots

11-5 (6-2/5-3)

XXXII97 Broncos

12-4 (8-0/4-4)

 XXXII97 Packers

13-3 (8-0/5-3)

XXXIII98 Broncos

14-2 (8-0/6-2)

 XXXIII98 Falcons

14-2 (8-0/6-2)

XXXIV99 Rams

13-3 (8-0/5-3)

 XXXIV99 Titans

13-3 (8-0/5-3)

XXXV00 Ravens

12-4 (6-2/6-2)

 XXXV00 Giants

12-4 (5-3/7-1)

XXXVI01 Patriots

11-5 (6-2/5-3)

 XXXVI01 Rams

14-2 (6-2/8-0)

XXXVII02 Bucs

12-4 (6-2/6-2)

 XXXVII02 Raiders

11-5 (6-2/5-3)

XXXVIII03 Patriots

14-2 (8-0/6-2)

 XXXVIII03 Panthers

11-5 (6-2/5-3)

XXXIX04 Patriots

14-2 (8-0/6-2)

 XXXIX04 Eagles

13-3 (7-1/6-2)

XL05 Steelers

11-5 (5-3/6-2)

 XL05 Seahawks

13-3 (8-0/5-3)

XLI06 Colts

12-4 (8-0/4-4)

 XLI06 Bears

13-3 (6-2/7-1)

XLII07 Giants

10-6 (3-5/7-1)

 XLII07 Patriots

16-0 (8-0/8-0)

XLIII08 Steelers

12-4 (6-2/6-2)

 XLIII08 Cardinals

9-7 (6-2/3-5)

XLIV09 Saints

13-3 (6-2/7-1)

 XLIV09 Colts

14-2 (7-1/7-1)

XLV10 Packers

10-6 (7-1/3-5)

 XLV10 Steelers

12-4 (5-3/7-1)

XLVI11 Giants

9-7 (4-4/5-3)

 XLVI11 Patriots

13-3 (7-1/6-2)

Super Bowl XLVII marks the sixth time in seven seasons that a Super Bowl combatant has a red flag for the home/road record split. Note that only one of those six teams had more than 10 wins, so the overall record deficiency seems to have as much to do with the red flag as the deficiency at home or on the road. That case certainly applies to this year's AFC representative:

  • Baltimore Ravens: 10-6 record (6-2 home, 4-4 road)
  • San Francisco 49ers: 11-4-1 record (6-1-1 home, 5-3 road)

The Ravens became the 14th Super Bowl combatant (of the now 94 teams in Super Bowl history) to own a .500 record or worse at home or on the road. Of these 14 teams, the Ravens are the seventh with a 4-4 road record and the eighth to play .500 ball away from home in the regular season. Perhaps these teams deserve a yellow flag instead of a red flag, especially because those eight teams won a combined nine road playoff games.

The first seven teams own a 3-4 record in the Super Bowl, with those four losses coming in consecutive years from Super Bowls XX to XXIII. On the other side, teams with a 5-3 road record own a 6-13 record in the Super Bowl. These results are quite interesting.

On the home half, teams with a 6-2 record own an even 10-10 record. Meanwhile, although the 49ers are the first Super Bowl team with a 6-1-1 home record, teams with six home wins and one road loss in the regular season own a 6-5 Super Bowl record. Advantage: Neutral

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Now, let's look at each team's divisional records. In theory, teams that cannot dominate in their own division in the regular season will struggle to dominate against the league's best in other divisions during the postseason. However, it's tougher to dominate within the division now that realignment in 2002 cut the league down to four-team divisions. Fewer games equal fewer wins, and any loss holds more weight because there are fewer games to improve a team's divisional winning percentage.

Does this mean there are more red flags as of late? Check out the results:

Winners

Losers

SB

Team

W-L

 

SB

Team

W-L

I66 Packers

10-2

 I66 Chiefs

5-1

II67 Packers

4-1-1

 II67 Raiders

6-0

III68 Jets

7-1

 III68 Colts

6-0

IV69 Chiefs

5-3

 IV69 Vikings

6-0

V70 Colts

6-1-1

 V70 Cowboys

5-3

VI71 Cowboys

7-1

 VI71 Dolphins

5-3

VII72 Dolphins

8-0

 VII72 Redskins

7-1

VIII73 Dolphins

7-1

 VIII73 Vikings

6-0

IX74 Steelers

4-2

 IX74 Vikings

4-2

X75 Steelers

6-0

 X75 Cowboys

6-2

XI76 Raiders

7-0

 XI76 Vikings

5-1

XII77 Cowboys

7-1

 XII77 Broncos

6-1

XIII78 Steelers

5-1

 XIII78 Cowboys

7-1

XIV79 Steelers

4-2

 XIV79 Rams

5-1

XV80 Raiders

6-2

 XV80 Eagles

6-2

XVI81 49ers

5-1

 XVI81 Bengals

4-2

XVII82 Redskins

6-1

 XVII82 Dolphins

6-1

XVIII83 Raiders

6-2

 XVIII83 Redskins

7-1

XIX84 49ers

6-0

 XIX84 Dolphins

8-0

XX85 Bears

8-0

 XX85 Patriots

6-2

XXI86 Giants

7-1

 XXI86 Broncos

5-3

XXII87 Redskins

7-1

 XXII87 Broncos

7-1

XXIII88 49ers

4-2

 XXIII88 Bengals

4-2

XXIV89 49ers

5-1

 XXIV89 Broncos

6-2

XXV90 Giants

7-1

 XXV90 Bills

7-1

XXVI91 Redskins

6-2

 XXVI91 Bills

7-1

XXVII92 Cowboys

6-2

 XXVII92 Bills

5-3

XXVIII93 Cowboys

7-1

 XXVIII93 Bills

7-1

XXIX94 49ers

6-0

 XXIX94 Chargers

6-2

XXX95 Cowboys

5-3

 XXX95 Steelers

6-2

XXXI96 Packers

7-1

 XXXI96 Patriots

6-2

XXXII97 Broncos

6-2

 XXXII97 Packers

7-1

XXXIII98 Broncos

8-0

 XXXIII98 Falcons

7-1

XXXIV99 Rams

8-0

 XXXIV99 Titans

9-1

XXXV00 Ravens

8-2

 XXXV00 Giants

7-1

XXXVI01 Patriots

6-2

 XXXVI01 Rams

7-1

XXXVII02 Bucs

4-2

 XXXVII02 Raiders

4-2

XXXVIII03 Patriots

5-1

 XXXVIII03 Panthers

5-1

XXXIX04 Patriots

5-1

 XXXIX04 Eagles

6-0

XL05 Steelers

4-2

 XL05 Seahawks

6-0

XLI06 Colts

3-3

 XLI06 Bears

5-1

XLII07 Giants

3-3

 XLII07 Patriots

6-0

XLIII08 Steelers

6-0

 XLIII08 Cardinals

6-0

XLIV09 Saints

4-2

 XLIV09 Colts

6-0

XLV10 Packers

4-2

 XLV10 Steelers

5-1

XLVI11 Giants

3-3

 XLVI11 Patriots

5-1

In the first 10 years since realignment (2002 to 2011), three teams with a 3-3 divisional record won the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, no team with a 4-4 divisional record made the Super Bowl, while six 5-3 teams made the Super Bowl in the first 36 years. However, remember that there were four-team divisions before league expansion reached 30 teams. so it's not just a realignment thing.

Of the three champions to go 3-3 in the division, the 2006 Colts lost all three of their road games while both Giants teams suffered a sweep to one of their divisional opponents (Dallas Cowboys in 2007 and Washington Redskins in 2011).

San Francisco's Week 10 tie actually played in favor of the 49ers, but only in the regards of the 49ers not finishing with a .500 divisional winning percentage. The 49ers still would've earned the two seed with an 11-5 record because they owned the tiebreakers over the Green Bay Packers (head-to-head) and the Seattle Seahawks (common games). Instead, we have:

  • Baltimore Ravens: 10-6 record (4-2 division)
  • San Francisco 49ers: 11-4-1 record (3-2-1 division)

Do the 49ers deserve a red flag? In the Super Study, the 49ers received a red flag, as the 5-3 record means a better winning percentage than 3-2-1. That didn't seem to slow down the 49ers. Obviously, a half-game isn't going to mean much of a difference. That's why it's a red flag, and that's why the study included 12 factors so one half game doesn't skew your results.

As for this matchup, both teams faced divisional opponent that made the postseason, but the 49ers played the tougher foe. The Seattle Seahawks finished first in the Quality Stats Power Rankings and were a Matt Ryan one-minute drill away from playing the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Sure, San Francisco failed to get a straight up win against the mediocre St. Louis Rams, but they forced Russell Wilson into his worst game of the year (38.68 rating in a season with nine games of a 100+ rating and three more with a 80+ rating). Advantage: 49ers (slightly)

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Finally, let's look at how each team fared against non-quality opponents. Past history shows that champions dominate against inferior competition while picking up a few top-notch wins. If teams are losing with some amount of regularity against mediocre or poor compeition, how can they be expected to make a run in the playoffs? The Super Study examined this question.

Winners

Losers

SB

Team

W-L (OPW)

 

SB

Team

W-L (OPW)

I66 Packers

7-2 (1)

 I66 Chiefs

6-0 (2)

II67 Packers

6-2-1 (1)

 II67 Raiders

7-0 (3)

III68 Jets

7-2 (2)

 III68 Colts

7-0 (0)

IV69 Chiefs

8-1 (2)

 IV69 Vikings

5-2 (2)

V70 Colts

10-0-1 (6)

 V70 Cowboys

8-0 (2)

VI71 Cowboys

9-2 (2)

 VI71 Dolphins

8-2-1 (1)

VII72 Dolphins

12-0 (3)

 VII72 Redskins

7-2 (1)

VIII73 Dolphins

7-1 (0)

 VIII73 Vikings

9-0 (2)

IX74 Steelers

10-2 (4)

 IX74 Vikings

8-3 (2)

X75 Steelers

8-0 (1)

 X75 Cowboys

7-2 (3)

XI76 Raiders

9-0 (4)

 XI76 Vikings

10-1 (4)

XII77 Cowboys

8-1 (3)

 XII77 Broncos

7-0 (3)

XIII78 Steelers

10-0 (4)

 XIII78 Cowboys

8-1 (1)

XIV79 Steelers

5-1 (2)

 XIV79 Rams

7-2 (4)

XV80 Raiders

8-1 (5)

 XV80 Eagles

9-1 (2)

XVI81 49ers

10-3 (5)

 XVI81 Bengals

8-3 (3)

XVII82 Redskins

5-0 (3)

 XVII82 Dolphins

4-0 (2)

XVIII83 Raiders

8-0 (2)

 XVIII83 Redskins

7-1 (2)

XIX84 49ers

11-0 (3)

 XIX84 Dolphins

8-1 (2)

XX85 Bears

10-0 (2)

 XX85 Patriots

9-1 (4)

XXI86 Giants

9-1 (5)

 XXI86 Broncos

5-1 (1)

XXII87 Redskins

10-3 (6)

 XXII87 Broncos

5-1-1 (2)

XXIII88 49ers

4-4 (1)

 XXIII88 Bengals

7-1 (3)

XXIV89 49ers

8-0 (2)

 XXIV89 Broncos

6-2 (2)

XXV90 Giants

9-0 (4)

 XXV90 Bills

9-0 (2)

XXVI91 Redskins

8-0 (3)

 XXVI91 Bills

11-1 (4)

XXVII92 Cowboys

10-1 (3)

 XXVII92 Bills

6-2 (1)

XXVIII93 Cowboys

7-2 (3)

 XXVIII93 Bills

8-0 (3)

XXIX94 49ers

9-1 (1)

 XXIX94 Chargers

7-2 (1)

XXX95 Cowboys

7-2 (2)

 XXX95 Steelers

8-3 (1)

XXXI96 Packers

9-0 (1)

 XXXI96 Patriots

7-1 (3)

XXXII97 Broncos

10-1 (3)

 XXXII97 Packers

6-2 (1)

XXXIII98 Broncos

11-1 (4)

 XXXIII98 Falcons

11-0 (6)

XXXIV99 Rams

13-2 (0)

 XXXIV99 Titans

10-2 (5)

XXXV00 Ravens

7-1 (2)

 XXXV00 Giants

9-1 (7)

XXXVI01 Patriots

8-2 (2)

 XXXVI01 Rams

8-1 (2)

XXXVII02 Bucs

8-0 (2)

 XXXVII02 Raiders

5-3 (0)

XXXVIII03 Patriots

6-2 (4)

 XXXVIII03 Panthers

10-2 (8)

XXXIX04 Patriots

7-1 (2)

 XXXIX04 Eagles

11-2 (3)

XL05 Steelers

8-1 (1)

 XL05 Seahawks

10-1 (4)

XLI06 Colts

8-3 (5)

 XLI06 Bears

11-2 (5)

XLII07 Giants

9-1 (4)

 XLII07 Patriots

9-0 (2)

XLIII08 Steelers

8-0 (3)

 XLIII08 Cardinals

7-1 (2)

XLIV09 Saints

8-2 (2)

 XLIV09 Colts

8-1 (4)

XLV10 Packers

6-3 (2)

 XLV10 Steelers

9-0 (4)

XLVI11 Giants

8-4 (4)

 XLVI11 Patriots

12-1 (3)

The outliers marked in red expose the 14 Super Bowl combatants who (A) lost at least three games against non-quality opponents, or (B) won six or more one-possession games against non-quality opponents. Ten teams received a red flag due to the first criterion, while five failed the second criterion. Only the 1987 Redskins suffered the proverbial "double whammy" in this area.

The Ravens at one point seemed destined for this red flag, with three consecutive one-possessions wins against non-quality opponents. Here's how they compare to the 49ers:

  • Baltimore Ravens: 10-6 record (7-2 v. NQO w/ 5 OPW)
  • San Francisco 49ers: 11-4-1 record (7-1-1 v. NQO w/ 1 OPW)

Clearly, the 49ers are one step ahead of the Ravens when it comes to dominating inferior competition. That can be reflected in the Relativity Index, where the 49ers finished fourth (+9.55) and the Ravens finished 10th (+4.36). While Baltimore might be one soft victory shy of being the eighth red flag in the last 15 Super Bowls, it's important to note the 1987 Redskins were the last team with at least five one-possession wins against non-quality opponents to defeat an opponent without those five soft wins. Advantage: 49ers

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Adam Dobrowolski continues this series with a look next at Baltimore's weak finish to the season with an abysmal December against tough competition. He compares the Ravens to past conference champions who suffered a losing streak or finished the year on a cold streak.


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