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NFL Notes
Philip Rivers’ performance obviously needs to be taken in context, as the numbers reveal a poor outing. Playing without LaDainian Tomlinson and a clearly hobbled Antonio Gates, Rivers made plenty of impressive throws with a completely torn ACL. He deserves a bunch of credit…No one really should have been surprised by Tomlinson’s absence; the writing was clearly on the wall there. He wasn’t just hurt, he was injured…San Diego’s secondary is pretty good at creating turnovers…Laurence Maroney’s last five weeks have been a complete 180. He has the moves and speed to really impress at times. Of course, with each successive big game in the spotlight, he becomes less and less of a value pick in fantasy leagues next year…Not sure what “consensual horseplay” is, but it sounds like fun…Yes, Kevin Faulk is the most underrated Patriot…Pretty crazy that Randy Moss has two catches for 32 yards during the postseason. He never had fewer than 32 yards receiving in a single game all season long.

I haven’t done the research, but I’d be surprised if the Giants aren’t the first team to reach the Super Bowl with a 3-5 home record…Plaxico Burress was the best player on the field Sunday. Coming off a season in which he caught a dozen touchdown passes playing with a torn up ankle for most of it, Burress enters 2008 as a top-8 fantasy WR, at worst…I love Brandon Jacobs’ bruising and wearing down style, but Ahmad Bradshaw is the better running back right now…Has there ever been a team that relies more on their line than the Giants? Not sure why Mike McCarthy gave up on the run so early, especially in those conditions, but New York’s front seven really dominated, despite the lack of sacks…I had no idea Donald Driver possessed that kind of speed still…The Giants will probably get blown out by New England in two weeks, but winning at Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay is an unbelievable accomplishment.

Posted by Dalton Del Don at 1/22/2008 6:07:00 PM
Comments (14)

Does two weeks equal blowout?
I've heard from a number of people that a two week layoff between the conference championship games and the super bowl usually leads to a blowout in the super bowl. I decided to go back over every super bowl and test this theory.

I found the line on every super bowl and compared that with the amount of time off before the super bowl. Only seven of the 41 super bowls have had a one week layoff, so there isn't very much to work with. Seven games doesn't come close to a big enough sample size for us to make any definite conclusions. Take everything from here on out with a grain of salt.

The first thing that jumps out at me about the seven one week games is that five of them were upsets. In the 34 two week games there were only four upsets. If we're looking at just recent history, there has been three one week super bowls in the last ten years and two of them were upsets (NE in 2001, TAM in 2002) while only one upset (DEN in 1997) in seven two week games. It does appear that a one week layoff is more conducive to a super bowl upset.

But do one week layoffs mean closer games? The average margin of victory in the seven one week super bowls is 10.1 points. Is that closer than normal? I didn't want to compare it to the average margin of victory of the regular season because that would include many games where a very bad team was facing a very good team. Theoretically, a super bowl should always be very good teams of somewhat equal strength. Instead, I calculated the average margin of victory of every playoff game in the super bowl era, which is 377 games. The average margin of victory in these games is 13.7. Oddly enough, the average margin of victory during regular season games since 1980 is just 11.5. It would appear that one week super bowls have produced closer games than a normal playoff game, but really aren't much different than a regular season game. I do find it interesting that playoff games, and super bowls in particular, have a larger margin of victory than regular season games, but we'll need to leave that for another blog. I can only assume that the better team is usually playing at home and is more focused in the playoffs.

Now let's compare this to the two week super bowls. The average margin of victory in two week super bowls is 16.4, well over the one week margin of victory and more than an average playoff game. We don't have much of a sample size to look at, but one week super bowls in general have been closer games than the two week variety.

The early line on this year's super bowl is 12 points so let's look at previous super bowls with double digit lines. There have been thirteen super bowls with double digit favorites. In those thirteen games, four of them resulted in upset wins for the underdog. Two of those came before the NFL/AFL merger, where not only did the general public undervalue the AFL, but the leagues did not play each other during the regular season making it very hard to gauge the better team. Still, even if we throw out those two games we get two upsets in eleven games. Believe it or not, those two upsets are the last two times we had a double digit line, NE in 2001 and DEN in 1997.

Let's look at how well the favorite has covered in the super bowl. The super bowl favorite is 25-14-2 against the spread. Recent history hasn't been so kind to the favorites, though. The super bowl favorite is just 4-5-1 in the last ten years.

None of this really means anything for this year's super bowl. You just can't conclude anything based on just 41 games over 41 years. The average margin of victory over the first 31 super bowls was 16.9 points, but it's been just 10.5 in the last ten seasons. If you play recent trends then a lot of the data points to a closer super bowl this season, regardless of how long the layoff.

Posted by Herb at 1/22/2008 1:58:00 PM

Comments (4)

How Does the Giants' Defense Stack Up?
The Patriots have the best offense in the league this year and arguably the best in league history (though it performed only modestly on Sunday), but have they had to face any great defenses? In fact who are the great defenses in the league this year? Indy, Pittsburgh, Tampa, San Diego, Tennessee? None of those are even in the class of the 2006 Ravens, let alone, the all-time great defenses. Is the Giants defense right now the best unit in the NFL?

For most of the season the team's weakness was in the secondary, but with Aaron Ross getting experience and Corey Webster seeming to turn the corner these last few games, suddenly the pass defense is a strength. It doesn't hurt to have the best pass rush in the NFL, but even when Favre had time to throw, the secondary held up. And aside from one blown coverage on Donald Driver and a short field after a long kickoff return, Green Bay didn't score a touchdown. In other words, the Giants defense didn't give up a single drive of more than 45 yards in Green Bay.

It would have been great to see the Patriots offense face one of the all-time great defenses, but largely they've dealt with merely good ones, and with pretty good results. (They struggled a bit with the Colts and Chargers, but San Diego benefited from the bad weather). Over the course of the year, the Giants weren't even a good defense, but during the playoffs, they have been very good. Probably not good enough to stop New England on a clear day in Arizona, but then again, I didn't think they'd win in Green Bay or Dallas, either.



Posted by Chris Liss at 1/21/2008 9:28:00 AM

Comments (19)

Championship Games Live Blogging
Michael Turner scares me and LT doesn't. Let's just get that out there. Stay warm, share your thoughts.

Posted by pianow at 1/20/2008 12:33:00 PM
Comments (52)

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