New England Patriots: What Are the Odds of Them Winning the Super Bowl?

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IJanuary 5, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 1:  Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after defeating the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. The Patriots defeated the Panthers 32-29.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

A 13-3 record is nice, but the New England Patriots know the taste of greatness. In that regard, regular-season wins are appetizers, but postseason wins are the main course. And the Patriots haven't eaten in four years.

With one of the league's best offenses and worst defenses, it's easy to see how the Patriots could fall short of their goal. But will they?


No quality wins

By now, the world knows that the Patriots haven't beaten a team with a winning record in 2011.

But we're still waiting on someone to tell us what it means, if it means anything at all.

Jason Lisk of The Big Lead took the task upon himself. His research finds that historically, it doesn't have much bearing on the final outcome in the playoffs.

"The teams that were the worst against winning teams compared to their record actually performed the best. They were expected to win only 0.84 playoff games on average (there is of course a tendency for these teams to be worse seeds), but averaged 1.00 wins. Based on this, I would say there is no evidence to suggest you should favor Baltimore in the playoffs based solely on the fact that they did well against winning teams while the Patriots have no wins."

But the fact that they haven't beat a team with a winning record is just one of many concerns fans have about this team's postseason chances.


Slow starts

The Patriots have set a team record with five wins when trailing after the first quarter, but the big question has been whether the Patriots can avoid that in the playoffs.

History shows they'll have to. According to ESPN's Jeremy Lundblad, teams that trail after the first quarter don't fare so well in the playoffs.

[Postseason] history says the odds are against teams that fall behind early. The Patriots are just 2-8 all-time in the postseason when trailing at the end of the first quarter. Over the past 10 postseasons, the team that's winning after the first quarter is 57-24.

The reason they've been able to come back is pretty clear: They've gotten lights-out performances from Tom Brady, who Lundblad points out has thrown 14 of his touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 106.5 when trailing.

It's also thanks to a better pass rush, which Lundblad says has generated 12 sacks on 117 dropbacks when trailing, as opposed to 23 sacks on 432 dropbacks when ahead.

The loss of Andre Carter could be perilous in that regard, as they won't be able to count on one of their most disruptive forces on the season.


Pass Defense's Jeff Howe points out that of the eight previous teams to give up the most passing yards in NFL history, four of them had 10 or more wins and seven were above .500. 

Separately, he points out that those teams are 2-3 in the postseason (with the fate of the Patriots and Packers to be decided).

If either the Patriots or the Packers win the Super Bowl, they will have won more postseason games than the previous teams combined.

Yes, the Patriots were swiftly surpassed by the Packers for the most pass yards given up in NFL history. Historically speaking, though, giving up a league record for passing yards isn't in the recipe for postseason success.


Passer Rating Differential

Kerry Byrne of Cold, Hard Football Facts has tracked passer rating differential, which takes an offense's passer rating and subtracts it from the defense's passer rating, since 1940. Its correlation to championship football is incredible. Forty of 71 NFL champions since 1940 have ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in passer rating differential, and 55 of 71 have ranked in the top five.

The Patriots' differential of 19.6 ranks fourth, behind the Packers (42.0), the Saints (24.1) and the Texans (23.7). The Steelers rank fifth with 17.9. 

Of course, it's thanks mostly to Tom Brady's passer rating of 105.6. New England's defensive passer rating of 86.1 ranks 21st in the NFL. Only one team in the playoffs, the New Orleans Saints, ranks lower in defensive passer rating (22nd with 86.4).


What the oddsmakers say

Bovada, formerly known as Bodog, currently has the Patriots at 4-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl. That puts them at third compared to the Green Bay Packers (9-5 odds) and the Saints (9-2).

This doesn't come as much of a surprise, as the Packers and Saints have both more recently tasted postseason success, and both enjoyed successful seasons. All three have elite quarterbacks and questionable defenses.



The Patriots do not have the look of a Super Bowl team. If there's any year for everything to go out the window, this is it. We have seen a revolutionary regular season this year, there's no question. Whether that trickles over into the postseason remains to be seen.

Clearly, though, the Patriots can improve their chances by playing better pass defense and avoiding slow starts. Of course, they have proven capable of overcoming both all season long, but the playoffs are a different game.

How this team will fare in the playoffs remains to be seen, as there are enough numbers to indicate they'll crash and burn, but also enough to give a glimmer of hope. 

Erik Frenz is the co-host of the PatsPropaganda and Frenz podcast. Follow Erik on Twitter.