Super Bowl team shared traits

One of my favorite things to do after the NFL’s regular season is to update my analysis of the shared traits of past Super Bowl teams to compare them to our current crop of NFL title hopefuls. The traits I take were snapshots of the last 44 Super Bowl teams at the end of the regular season, and my assumption is that though the teams involved may change, what it takes to be a champion in the NFL for the most part does not. This can help a great deal for bettors looking to make futures wagers, and I suppose to a lesser degree, those betting game lines and totals as well. With that in mind, read on as I share the list of qualifications and the chart detailing the resumes of the 14 playoff teams.

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First, a quick review. One of my favorite habits in looking for futures wagers in all sports is to compare the resumes of current teams with those of past champions. I feel that it is a good way to discover which teams have the pedigree to accomplish something special. I look at all kinds of varying characteristics, from Strength Ratings to momentum to raw statistics. My favorite place to use this methodology has been for the NCAA Tournament each March. I just did an NCAA hoops midseason edition for VSiN.com.

For the NFL version, I’m going to look at the teams vying for the Super Bowl. Naturally, the futures odds at the various sportsbooks reveal the feelings of the experts as to which teams they feel have the best shot to win, but these aren’t always resume-built, more often they are formed simply from won-lost records, recent games, path to the title, or even from simply where the most money is coming in. My method of finding shared characteristics from past success stories provides bettors more concrete evidence from which to base wagers. So, let’s take a look at some of the key statistical characteristics each team boasts now in comparison to those of the Super Bowl teams of the last 22 years. 

Statistical/strength characteristics

The stats I have chosen are mostly “body of work” type of figures, in other words, they encompass the entire regular season. That said, my Bettors Ratings and Momentum Ratings do reflect a more recent status of teams. This is a list of the 27 statistical/strength characteristics I will be using to qualify this year’s teams for their worthiness of winning a Super Bowl title next month. 

Steve Makinen’s Power Rating

Steve Makinen’s Effective Strength Indicator

Steve Makinen’s Bettors’ Rating

Steve Makinen’s Momentum Ratings

Won-Lost Record

ATS Won-Lost Record

Offensive PPG

Offensive Rushing Yards per Game

Offensive Rushing Yards per Attempt

Offensive Passing Yards per Game

Offensive Passing Yards per Attempt

Offensive Total Yards per Game

Total Offensive Yards per Play

Offensive Third-Down Conversion Percentage

Defensive PPG

Defensive Rushing Yards per Game

Defensive Rushing Yards per Attempt

Defensive Passing Yards per Game

Defensive Passing Yards per Attempt

Defensive Total Yards per Game

Total Defensive Yards per Play

Defensive Third-Down Conversion Percentage

Sacks

Scoring Differential

Yards per Play Differential

Turnover Differential

Average Time of Possession 

Winning formula

In general, when I do this type of exercise, I’m typically looking for teams that share the same traits as 80% or so of the sample group I’m studying. So, to find separations in the teams’ stats/ranks, of the last 44 Super Bowl participants, I’m looking for about 35 teams or so to fit the bill. You will find the qualifying teams for each trait in the chart below. Of the Super Bowl teams since 2001, AT THE END OF THE REGULAR SEASON, approximately 80% of them:

— Had a Steve Makinen Power Rating of 28 or higher

— Had a Steve Makinen Effective Strength Indicator of +4.0 or higher

— Had a Steve Makinen Bettors’ Rating of -6.0 or better

— Had a Steve Makinen Momentum Rating of +6.0 or better

— Won 11 games or more (>=68.%)

— Won 9 games or more ATS (>=56%)

— Scored 24 PPG or more on offense

— Rushed for >=100 YPG

— Averaged 4.0 yards or more per rushing attempt

— Passed for >=210 YPG

— Averaged 7.0 yards or more per passing attempt

— Gained >=350 total yards per game offensively

— Averaged >=5.5 yards per play or more on offense

— Converted 37% of third-down opportunities on offense

— Allowed 22 PPG or fewer on defense

— Allowed <=120 rushing yards per game

— Allowed 4.5 yards or fewer per rushing attempt

— Allowed <=238 or fewer passing yards per game

— Allowed 6.6 yards or fewer per passing attempt

— Allowed <=350 total yards per game defensively

— Allowed 5.6 yards per play or fewer on defense

— Yielded opponents to 39% or less on third-down conversions

— Recorded 2.5 sacks per game or more

— Outscored opponents by 6.8 PPG or more

— Outgained opponents by 0.3 yards per play or more

— Had turnover differential of +6 or more (+0.38)

— Averaged more than 30 minutes’ time of possession

Qualifying each of the 14 NFL teams that have reached the playoffs this season, we come up with this chart, with marks indicating they meet the criteria for that statistic.

Theoretically, the more marks, the more qualified that team would be to make a run at the Super Bowl in February. That would put Dallas vs. Baltimore as the matchup at this time, with the Cowboys holding a perfect 27 score and three-mark edge over any other team in the NFC, including the top-seeded 49ers. In the AFC, the Ravens hold a four-mark edge over Buffalo. Interestingly, the only underdog for this upcoming weekend that boasts more marks in a matchup is Miami, 20-19 over defending champion Kansas City.

Overall, last year’s chart revealed a far more top-heavy proceeding, with six teams having 20 or more marks and the other eight scoring 13 or less. This year, only four teams are scoring 13 or less.

If you’re wondering how this analysis played out for me last season, I did have the 49ers as the eventual champion, scoring a perfect 27. That was four marks better than the NFC’s next-highest team, the Eagles, who represented the conference in the Super Bowl after beating a QB-injury-riddled 49ers team in the NFC title game. In the AFC, Buffalo and Kansas City both scored a conference-best 24 marks. The Chiefs, of course, went on to win the Super Bowl. I wouldn’t call the study a “hit” by my typical standards, however, those were reasonably positive results. Also, of note for the ’23 playoffs, two of the wild-card-round underdogs earned more marks than their favored opponents, those being the Giants (at Minnesota) and the Jaguars (vs. L.A. Chargers). Both of those teams went on to pull upsets.

It should be a great month of playoff football. Hopefully this analysis helps you score a futures wager or two.