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Feb 28

Super Bowl Super Study, Part 12: Passer Rating Differential

Over two weeks, we’re conducting a super study to assess Super Bowl teams. With this painstakingly-detailed look at playoff team precedence, a few key outliers can illustrate which future playoff teams are likely to win the Super Bowl and which future playoff teams are likely to come up short. This study includes 13 statistical factors that impact a playoff team’s championship viability.

Today, the study focuses on the impact of passer rating differential for the Super Bowl combatants. This stat has one of the best correlations to victory in the game. The chart below examines each Super Bowl team’s passer rating differential.

Table 12: Passer Rating Differential (rounded to the nearest tenth)

SB Winner PRD SB Loser PRD
I 66 Packers +56.0 I 66 Chiefs +42.6
II 67 Packers +22.2 II 67 Raiders +31.4
III 68 Jets +22.4 III 68 Colts +36.5
IV 69 Chiefs +29.3 IV 69 Vikings +29.3
V 70 Colts +13.0 V 70 Cowboys +27.0
VI 71 Cowboys +32.9 VI 71 Dolphins +21.6
VII 72 Dolphins +39.5 VII 72 Redskins +26.5
VIII 73 Dolphins +35.3 VIII 73 Vikings +35.5
IX 74 Steelers +4.6 IX 74 Vikings +28.2
X 75 Steelers +43.9 X 75 Cowboys +24.1
XI 76 Raiders +33.4 XI 76 Vikings +34.7
XII 77 Cowboys +37.1 XII 77 Broncos +18.4
XIII 78 Steelers +29.7 XIII 78 Cowboys +29.4
XIV 79 Steelers +20.2 XIV 79 Rams -3.3
XV 80 Raiders +8.2 XV 80 Eagles +34.4
XVI 81 49ers +27.5 XVI 81 Bengals +14.4
XVII 82 Redskins +24.1 XVII 82 Dolphins +15.3
XVIII 83 Raiders +13.0 XVIII 83 Redskins +27.4
XIX 84 49ers +36.3 XIX 84 Dolphins +37.1
XX 85 Bears +26.1 XX 85 Patriots +13.7
XXI 86 Giants +6.4 XXI 86 Broncos +2.8
XXII 87 Redskins +11.4 XXII 87 Broncos +14.6
XXIII 88 49ers +11.3 XXIII 88 Bengals +27.4
XXIV 89 49ers +46.3 XXIV 89 Broncos +9.6
XXV 90 Giants +28.4 XXV 90 Bills +25.0
XXVI 91 Redskins +39.1 XXVI 91 Bills +32.4
XXVII 92 Cowboys +18.9 XXVII 92 Bills +4.8
XXVIII 93 Cowboys +21.5 XXVIII 93 Bills +11.0
XXIX 94 49ers +43.3 XXIX 94 Chargers -0.7
XXX 95 Cowboys +19.4 XXX 95 Steelers +0.2
XXXI 96 Packers +40.3 XXXI 96 Patriots +14.3
XXXII 97 Broncos +15.9 XXXII 97 Packers +32.9
XXXIII 98 Broncos +13.0 XXXIII 98 Falcons +15.9
XXXIV 99 Rams +42.5 XXXIV 99 Titans +0.8
XXXV 00 Ravens +10.2 XXXV 00 Giants +9.4
XXXVI 01 Patriots +16.7 XXXVI 01 Rams +32.3
XXXVII 02 Buccaneers +37.9 XXXVII 02 Raiders +19.9
XXXVIII 03 Patriots +28.1 XXXVIII 03 Panthers +4.8
XXXIX 04 Patriots +17.2 XXXIX 04 Eagles +20.6
XL 05 Steelers +15.4 XL 05 Seahawks +19.4
XLI 06 Colts +20.6 XLI 06 Bears +7.0
XLII 07 Giants -10.4 XLII 07 Patriots +37.9
XLIII 08 Steelers +18.5 XLIII 08 Cardinals -0.8
XLIV 09 Saints +37.4 XLIV 09 Colts +14.8
XLV 10 Packers +31.7 XLV 10 Steelers +22.1
XLVI 11 Giants +6.8 XLVI 11 Patriots +19.6
XLVII 12 Ravens +5.8 XLVII 12 49ers +23.2
XLVIII 13 Seahawks +39.0 XLVIII 13 Broncos +29.9
XLIX 14 Patriots +13.5 XLIX 14 Seahawks +14.7

Red flag: Negative passer rating differential
Amber flag: Positive passer rating differential WORSE THAN plus-6 points

There is no era-related trend, but it’s interesting that only three Super Bowl winners get flagged. This helps to show how important of a role passer rating differential plays in the game, especially at the playoff level.

Now let’s compile a list of Super Bowl teams that earned red or amber flags in the 13 factors for playoff team precedence. This will allows us to see how many Super Bowl teams compiled flags and determine how many flags a normal Super Bowl team should own. We’ll then determine the most unlikely Super Bowl combatants. First, here’s the overall Super Bowl champions flag count:

  • Eight red flags, one amber flag: 2007 Giants
  • Six red flags, one amber flag: 2011 Giants
  • Two red flags, one amber flag: 1988 49ers
  • Two red flags: 1999 Rams, 2010 Packers
  • One red flag, four amber flags: 2012 Ravens
  • One red flag, two amber flags: 1979 Steelers, 2006 Colts
  • One red flag, one amber flag: 1970 Colts, 1981 49ers, 2001 Patriots
  • One red flag: 1972 Dolphins, 1983 Raiders, 1993 Cowboys
  • Three amber flags: 1987 Redskins
  • Two amber flags: 1974 Steelers, 1980 Raiders, 2000 Ravens, 2009 Saints
  • One amber flag: 1967 Packers, 1969 Chiefs, 1976 Raiders, 1995 Cowboys, 1997 Broncos, 2005 Steelers

Next, here’s the overall Super Bowl losers flag count:

  • Six red flags: 2008 Cardinals
  • Four red flags, four amber flags: 1979 Rams
  • Two red flags, four amber flags: 2003 Panthers
  • Two red flags, one amber flag: 1981 Bengals
  • Two red flags: 1998 Falcons
  • One red flag, one amber flag: 1988 Bengals, 1994 Chargers, 1996 Patriots, 2000 Giants
  • One red flag: 1980 Eagles, 2001 Rams, 2002 Raiders, 2005 Seahawks
  • Five amber flags: 1986 Broncos
  • Four amber flags: 1970 Cowboys, 1992 Bills
  • Three amber flags: 1985 Patriots
  • Two amber flags: 1999 Titans, 2004 Eagles, 2012 49ers
  • One amber flag: 1969 Vikings, 1971 Dolphins, 1972 Redskins, 1982 Dolphins, 1984 Dolphins, 1987 Broncos, 1989 Broncos, 1995 Steelers, 2006 Bears, 2009 Colts, 2010 Steelers, 2011 Patriots

With one factor left to go, we see that the 2007 Giants will finish with the most red flags. To think, they received eight red flags and one amber flag over 12 factors. Yet, they defeated two 13-3 teams and a 16-0 team to win the Super Bowl. It’s clearly the greatest underdog run in NFL postseason history. Only the 2011 Giants can compare.

Up next: Yards per Play Differential

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