Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM
Hot & Not Report - SB54
It's been a few weeks since I produced one of these pieces, and with all the historical digging that's been done leading up to Super Bowl 54, I thought it would be best to put out one more of these for the NFL season. Doing all that backtracking has been fun, but at this point I'm about ready to see the football in the air and this game kicked off. You can view my analysis on four early pieces below:
Teasers | Parlays | Totals | MVP
One more look at a couple historical angles is what will be presented here, and given that it's already known that Kansas City is my selection for this year's game, this piece may feel a bit like some confirmation bias to some. I get that you can find stats for pretty much everything these days and that's just how it is. Using or dismissing the following information is your decision, but there are two more historical ideas that I've found to favor the Chiefs this week that aren't being regurgitated like the “team that wears white wins” I seemingly have seen at every corner during this research.
Some may view what I'm about to present as just as useless/coincidental as the jersey color and that's fine, but why leave some stones unturned?
Since the NFL went to a six-team per conference playoff in the 1990 season, 22 of the 29 Super Bowl winners made the playoffs the year before
Experience is one of those words that gets chucked around a lot in this industry, and whenever it's used the notion of how to quantify a player or team's level of experience comes up. Without question, quantifying experience levels can be an exercise in absurdity, but this may be one of those scenarios where you can bring some measure of value to it. It's something that could be just as valuable at the beginning of the year in futures markets, but when just looking at the two teams involved in the Super Bowl, history has shown that recent playoff experience for teams has proven to be beneficial. Considering the Chiefs made the postseason a year ago, and San Francisco didn't, it does make this situation relevant this year.
In those 29 Super Bowls – starting with the New York Giants win over the Buffalo Buffalo in Super Bowl 25 – there were three years where both Super Bowl teams failed to make the playoffs the year prior (SB 34, 35, and 38), so we've got to omit those as well.
Now most of those years involved two teams that did make the playoffs the year prior, so the 22 for 29 run isn't as bad as it may seem for the 49ers this year, but it's still not a profitable situation for them. In that 29-year span, when we've had this identical scenario – one team off a playoff season (KC) and one team not (SF) – the team with playoff experience from the previous year is 6-4 straight up (SU).
However, since the NFL merger in 1970 – starting with the SB 6 matchup as SB 5 was Year 1 for the NFL as we know it now – teams with that profile are 13-6 SU all-time in the Super Bowl. That does tilt the scale a bit further towards the Chiefs this week, especially when you consider the New England Patriots aren't involved. Of the four Super Bowl wins in the past 29 for those teams lacking playoff experience from the year before, three of them involved the Patriots.
The most recent being when the Philadelphia Eagles knocked off New England, but the 2011 New York Giants fit that bill as well. New England was also on the right side of that coin back in 2001 when Tom Brady and New England won their first Super Bowl to start their dynasty, upsetting the Rams in one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. The other game to fit the bill was when New Orleans knocked off Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts team back in the 2009 season, oddly enough the last time the Super Bowl was played in Miami.
But while San Francisco backers may take that Miami connection as a positive here, even that can be up for dispute. In the six other Super Bowls played in Miami (from SB 10 on), this occurrence has actually happened four other times (SB 10, 23, 29, and 33) and all four of those times, the team that had the recent playoff experience won the game outright. In all four of those wins, the winning team did enter the game as the favorite, but did post a 2-2 ATS record thanks to having some lofty spreads attached.
Again, the dispute there lies in that the 49ers organization was actually a part of two of those victories (SB 23 and 29), but with this year's spread in the range where you've just got to pick the outright winner, the straight up results seem a bit more important.
Granted, the argument that Super Bowls that were played 20+ years ago have nothing to do with this year's game is valid and will be where some choose to hang their hat, but if we can't learn from the past, what else do we have?
Since the start of the 2000 NFL season, Super Bowl teams that enter with the QB who had more regular season passing TD's are 6-13 SU, including 0-4 SU and ATS the past four years
Poking holes in this trend is possible as well as there have been multiple cases where one Super Bowl QB didn't play the same number of games during the year as the other one, but in terms of final tally numbers, that 6-13 SU number holds up. This year's game does feature the two QB's playing a different number of games thanks to Patrick Mahomes injury earlier in the year, but the final regular season tally went like this: Jimmy Garoppolo 27 TD passes, Patrick Mahomes 26 TD passes.
What may be most interesting about this angle is that with all those Super Bowls made by the New England Patriots and Tom Brady, we do have a measuring point specifically for him in proving the validity of this angle. Brady is 6-3 SU in his nine Super Bowl appearances, but all three of those defeats came when he finished the year with more TD passes then his foe, and four of his six wins came when he had fewer TD passes then his foe.
Brady's not involved in this year's game, but considering that big of a sample size for one man, it is hard to completely negate this angle. And the two wins he did get when having more TD passes were against Carolina on a last-second FG, and against Seattle when the Seahawks decided not to run the ball from the one-yard line. Had a bounce or two gone differently, maybe this trend would be perfect for Brady and his nine Super Bowl appearances.
The lack of passing from Jimmy G in these playoffs has been a popular talking point for this game, but this angle kind of flips that upside down. Now, had Mahomes played a full season he would have almost certainly had more passing TD's, but the chips fall as they will, and oddly enough it's working out in KC's favor here.
Whether or not that's how it plays out on Sunday remains to be seen, but I can also leave you with this angle that was last on the chopping block for this piece:
The Super Bowl team with the larger margin of victory in the conference championship game is just 7-11-2 SU in the last 20 Super Bowls (twice both participants had identical margin of victories).
Only three of those wins have come by the underdog, so sorry San Francisco fans, the writing may already be on the wall.