When one spends a lot of time poring over NFL stats trying to create forecasts, it is a continuing search for the major clues, the ones that can consistently lead to a fairly reliable prediction.
A check of winning and losing NFL teams over several years produces four notable statistics to combine for predicting outcome. They are: average yards per pass attempt, turnovers, sacks and TDs by return.
The “where’s the run game” question is easily answered. If you are running the ball well, the passing game gets much easier. When you are forced to throw, disaster lurks.
Testing the formula with year-end stats or individual game stats, it delivers a favorable percentage of 80% or better, a number most gamblers would like to work with.
I am not a real gambler (small pools but nothing substantial) but I stumbled across another strange NFL fact that has no real logical base. Maybe it’s pay back like Babe and the Red Sox or something that happened when George Halas dropped the Staleys name and changed to the Bears. It makes no sense but the numbers are hard to believe.
Let’s call it ‘ANIMALS AND THE SUPER BOWL”
An “animal” team is defined as any team that features an animal as its nickname or logo. Each conference in the NFL has 8 “animal” teams and 8 “non-animal” teams.
The 16 “animal” teams are the Broncos, Dolphins, Colts, Rams, Bears, Ravens, Bills, Bengals, Eagles, Cardinals, Chargers, Falcons, Panthers, Seahawks, Jaguars and Lions. The Bills get in on the city name and the matching logo. Houston does not get in despite the helmet insignia because Texans are Texans first.
The numbers are very spooky. Over the 45 Super Bowls, “animal” teams have made 34 appearances resulting in 9 wins and 25 losses, a win percentage of 26%. The Ravens (1-0) are the only “animal” team with a winning record.
The 16 “non-animal” teams have 56 Super Bowl invitations (62% of the total) with 36 wins and 20 losses, a win percentage of 64%
The Titans (0-1) and Vikings (0-4) are the only “non-animal” teams with losing records.
The Steelers (6-2), Cowboys (5-3) and 49ers (5-0) are 16-5 combined. That’s 7 more wins than all the “animal” teams.
The last 10 years shows little change: “animal” teams had 8 appearances with 1 win (over another “animal” team). The “non-animal” teams made 12 appearances and went 9-3.
As I said before, I am not a gambler – but – I looked at those Vegas preseason odds for the 2012 Super Bowl, Packers 7-1, Patriots 7.5-1, Steelers 10-1, Saints, Jets and Giants at 14-1 – geez, you could bet all seven and break even if any of them won the big game – and the best “animal” odds were Chargers 12-1, Colts and Ravens 14-1. No, not an ounce of logic here but strangely interesting.