Super Bowl 2013 Matchup: An Advanced Look

This site’s loyal readers already know all about my mathematical power rankings and likely remember how they came to exist. But this week’s Super Bowl content is bringing in new readers from all over, so before I get to the number lets first review what it is we’re talking about.

About 2 years ago, I started a massive project looking at tons of different stats and looked for correlation to winning. The result, after months of work, was a mathematical model of how each thing a team does that effects winning. I’ve parlayed that knowledge into a formula for that determines a “power” level for each team based on their stats. There’s no popularity contest, just a picture as to which teams are best in the areas that correlate highest to wins.

A look at the numbers shows a distinct advantage for the 49ers. San Francisco ended 2012 as one of the 4 “elite” teams, while Baltimore was in the larger 2nd tier of “good” teams.

The 49ers also consistently performed under their season averages defensively after Justin Smith got hurt, while the Ravens though showed solid improvement the last few weeks after changing offensive coordinators. This suggests that the gap this week is likely smaller than it appears in the chart below.

SF has a major advantage in terms of yards per play both offensively and defensively. That shows up in the points against, but doesn’t in terms of points for. The 49ers surprising do a poor job of turning offensive success into points (at least on a statistical level) So while their offense is better, the Ravens get approximately the same points per game from their efforts. Part of this, but not all, can be attributed to the troubles of kicker David Akers.

Baltimore has a fairly decent advantage on special teams. Its the one area where they have an advantage which is statistically significant, but it is an important one. A big kick return, or a missed FG by Akers could be enough to negate the other advantages that the 49ers possess since the teams are close in overall rating.

Both teams were +9 in turnover differential. This means that both teams were good, but not great, at both getting takeaways and not turning the ball over. Neither team’s defense lived and died by their ability to get turnovers. It would be very uncharacteristic of either team for turnovers to end up having a huge impact on this game.

The difference in rating, with the neutral field factored in, suggest the 49ers winning by approximately 6 points. With SF trending down after the Smith injury, and the Ravens trending up, I’d put the gap between the teams at a FG.

San Francisco

 

Baltimore

3

Rank

10

16.26

Off

13.98

12.02

Def*

13.4

24.8

PF

24.9

17.1

PA

21.5

7.7

PT Dif

3.4

9

TO

9

5.82

ST

7.62

35.1

3rd%

36.9

33

D 3%

35.8

87.8

Power

72.6

*smaller numbers are better for defense.

 

Topics: Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl

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