Hi Sports Fans
Source: NFL images taken from Madden 17 and 18
I very rarely write about sports. The last time I wrote about a sport was in my post, ‘Building a winning team (Transitivity assumption) – Focus on the NFL’. This post was about game theory and I used the NFL as an example. In this post, I will again visit the NFL. This time round I would like to make my prediction for Super Bowl 54. The Super Bowl is not until 2nd February 2020, so there is a long way to go. Making a prediction, this far out is quite a long shot, as the teams I predict to make it to the Super Bowl might even miss the playoffs.
So why make a prediction?
Since I have been writing on Steem, I have not made any predictions about the outcome of any sports events. I have made some predictions about Brexit and so far, my predictions have been fairly accurate; read my post, Brexit confusion continues, for more on that prediction. If I am on a prediction hot streak, why not make another prediction. Another reason I want to make a prediction is because the NFL team I support, the San Francisco 49ers, are having a great season so far. They haven’t had a great season since 2013. That year they made it to the Super Bowl and lost to the Baltimore Ravens. I would not want to make a prediction that would involve them not making the Super Bowl. Therefore, I am predicting the 49ers will get to the Super Bowl.
My Super Bowl prediction
I am predicting The San Francisco 49ers will play the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. I am predicting the 49ers will win.
Reasons for my predictions
The first and most obvious reason is that they are both very good teams. The San Francisco 49ers are still unbeaten and the New England Patriots have only lost one game. In terms of win percentage, they have the best Win/Loss records in the league. They rank number 1 (Patriots) and 2 (49ers) in terms of point differential. They rank number 1 (Patriots) and 2 (49ers) in terms of points conceded. They rank number 1 (Patriots) and 6 (49ers) in terms of points scored. Below are the league overall standings for the top 12 teams.
NFL Standings after Week 9
Source: nfl.com accessed on 07/11/2019
The numbers would seem to indicate these two teams are obvious picks for the Super Bowl at this stage in the season. The numbers reported so far only tell part of the picture. The season schedule is only half through. A lot can happen in the second half of the season. For the first half of the season, both the Patriots and 49ers have had relatively light schedules. The Patriots opponents have an average win percentage of 31% and the 49ers opponents have an average win percentage of 37.8%. That ranks these two teams, in terms of strength of opponent, 1 and 3 respectively.
Super Bowl Odds (07/11/2019)
The current odds have the New England Patriots favourites to win the Super Bowl and the San Francisco 49ers third favourites. As the Patriots are the defending Super Bowl Champions and off to such a great start, these odds are not surprising. The 49ers odds are not so great. This is most likely because of their poor performance last season (record 4-12) and the very few challenging opponents faced so far. Many may consider them untested. The New Orleans Saints have the second most favourable odds of winning the Super Bowl. This is likely because of their strong performance last season (lost in the NFC final), and winning against strong teams without their starting quarterback. The Saints have had the 7th toughest schedule in the league over the first eight games of the season. Their opponents have won, on average, 59.4% of their games (fanside.com).
After Week 9 in the NFL, nfl.com have put the San Francisco 49ers top of the Power Ranking and the New England Patriots third. The Saints have climbed to second. The Patriots are lower in these rankings because, in Week 9, they had their first defeat of the season, which was to the Baltimore Ravens. Prior to this defeat, the Patriots had won most of their games convincingly.
Passing of the torch
Besides the statistics suggesting that both the Patriots and 49ers are good teams this year, I have a few other reasons why I believe these two will meet in the Super Bowl and why I believe the 49ers will win. Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback of the 49ers, was Tom Brady’s backup quarterback in New England. He was supposedly drafted to replace Tom Brady when he retired but Brady kept playing at a high level and the Patriots couldn’t hold onto the two quarterbacks. Therefore, they traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers. A couple of years have passed; Tom Brady has now won 6 Super Bowls. This has put him in the GOAT (greatest of all time) category. I believe this is Tom Brady’s final season; he is 42 and his contract expires at the end of the season. He won’t be able to hand the Patriots team over to Jimmy Garoppolo but he could hand the Super Bowl over if the Patriots lose to the 49ers. This season’s Super Bowl might be Tom’s last chance to play against his former backup.
Democrats vs. Trump
Source: sbnation.com accessed 07/11/2019
San Francisco is very much a Democrat city. San Francisco have had all Democrat Mayors since 1968. See Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: San Francisco Mayors
Source: Wikipedia accessed 07/11/2019
San Francisco also have the most Democrat leaning fan base of any team in the NFL according to a survey monkey poll in 2017. According to si.com, the owners of the San Francisco 49ers have contributed mostly to Democrat candidates. This aligns with the political allegiance of most of its fan base. The results of that poll are shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Political leanings of NFL team fans
Source: fivethirtyeight.com accessed 07/11/2019
The New England Patriots fan base find themselves somewhere in the middle of the pack. Therefore, this does not exactly pit Democrats versus Republicans. However, this could be pitting the Democrats against Trump. Donald Trump has links to Robert Kraft (Patriot’s owner), Bill Belichick (Head Coach) and Tom Brady (quarterback). Donald Trump is particularly close to Robert Kraft. According to sbnation.com, Trump spent time with Kraft after his wife died and Kraft donated US$1 Million to Trump’s inaugural committee. Donald Trump also shared a letter from Bill Belichick at one of his campaign rallies. Tom Brady, shown below, had a ‘Make America Great’ cap in his locker. He claimed the hat was passed onto him from Robert Kraft.
Source: sbnation.com accessed 07/11/2019
The article from sbnation.com made several more references to Trump’s relationship with the Patriots team such as congratulatory Tweets.
The NFL offers both a competitive sport and entertainment (This is a very important incentive as the NFL uses a shared revenue model from TV deals; adage.com explains this in some detail. The NFL also plays a role in politics through donations to candidates. For a team to be successful they need to be one of the best teams in the league. So far, this season’s performance indicates both the 49ers and Patriots teams are strong. Team’s also need to be entertaining and create a match up that people want to see. Thirteen of the past fifteen Super Bowl’s have scored above average in regards to entertainment value based on the metrics described below.
Figure 3: Super Bowl Entertainment
Excitement Index is the sum total of movement in win probability across an entire game. This rewards back-and-forth games with a lot of uncertainty about the eventual winner until the very end of the game.
Comeback Factor is the eventual loser’s highest win probability in the game. This essentially measures how dramatic a comeback the winning team needed to stage, with larger numbers representing more unlikely victories.
Source: fivethirtyeight.com accessed 07/11/2019
The bigger the circle, the larger the comeback factor. The Patriots Falcons Super Bowl scored below average for the excitement Index across the whole game but had the largest comeback factor of all time, thus making it a success. The only Super Bowl that failed to perform was the Seahawks Broncos game. This Super Bowl got a lot of hype leading up to it as it pitted the best offense (Denver Broncos) against the best defence (Seattle Seahawks).
In regards to politics, there are a few conspiracy theories going round linking the New England Patriots Super Bowl wins to attempts by the US Government to get support for their wars in the Middle East. I will leave off this topic for now but it is intriguing.
I will not predict a score for this Super Bowl but I think it could be quite high scoring, despite two of the top defences playing in this game. A high scoring game would be a better send off to Brady than a low scoring one. I also think it will be a close game. Let’s wait until February to see if I am correct.
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