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Sat Feb 2, 2013, 02:46 PM

Nate Silver Picks the Super Bowl!

Does defense win championships? Stat-geek sports fans like me tend to distrust this old saying. Scoring a point helps just as much as allowing one hurts. And in football, the proposition risks ignoring the role played by the likes of Tom Brady. . .

The 20 best offensive teams, however, are just 10-10 in the Super Bowl. There have been successes in this group, like the Saints under Drew Brees, but there have been just as many failures, including two of Brady’s Patriots teams. (During his three championships, the Patriots had a much better balance between offense and defense.)

The reasons that exceptional defenses fare so much better in the Super Bowl are still somewhat murky, but this factor bodes well for this year’s 49ers, whose defense belongs in the elite group, according to S.R.S. (it ranks 17th among Super Bowl teams). The Ravens, despite all the hype surrounding Ray Lewis, allowed a rather pedestrian 21.5 points per game this year. The 49ers also have the better offense, according to S.R.S., so there isn’t much to recommend the Ravens . . . unless you look at the more sophisticated rankings published by Football Outsiders. Their system, known as Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (D.V.O.A.), accounts for a team’s success or failure on every play it ran during the year and not just on final scores.

Those rankings find that while the 49ers had the better offense and defense, the Ravens had the best special teams in the league this year. If they do pull off the upset, on the heels of Steve Weatherford’s game-changing performance for the Giants in last year’s Super Bowl, perhaps it will be time for a new cliché: punters win championships. But don’t count on that.


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Reply Nate Silver Picks the Super Bowl! (Original post)
elleng Feb 2013 OP
rgbecker Feb 2013 #1
Paula Sims Feb 2013 #2

Response to elleng (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 04:07 PM

1. Just finished Nate's book "The signal and the noise".

Excellent read all about predictions. Have revised a lot of my ideas about this subject because of this book. Recommended.

That said, Ravens, 24-21.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 08:08 AM

2. I predict that the winning team will be coached by J. Harbaugh.

I expect R squared = 1 and even adjusted R-squared = 1.

Oh, and 100% of everyone who ate a TOMATO in 1802 is dead today.

. . . Or your money back . . .

PS I am a statistician, but at 6am on Sunday morning after not sleeping well, I'm reserving the right to be snarkey.

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