By now you have probably heard hundreds of analysts give their opinion about which team will win the Super Bowl. Oh, what the heck, we are going to give you ours. However, we guarantee our reasons are different from everyone else’s as ours is based primarily on our PossessionPoints stat. So, here we go.
In our last article, "In theNFL, Performance Means Everything", we showed you that the Steelers topped our Performance Rankings Chart at no.1 with a +36 relative performance measure (RPM). The Cardinals were 12th on this same chart with a +14 RPM.
Many may want to discount the Cardinals’ position on our chart because the “red hot Cardinals” beat the Eagles in a decisive manner. Because of this victory, we feel compelled to ask: why shouldn’t the Cardinals beat the Steelers?
Here is the primary reason, and it may sound simplistic: The Steelers are NOT the Eagles. We do not mean to insult the Eagles or the Cardinals in this statement, but let us explain.
One of the advantages of the PossessionPoints RPM is that it puts into order not just the performance of teams but other comparative aspects such a team’s strength of opponents.
In the chart below, we added together the RPM of each team’s opponents throughout the 2008 schedule. This gives a very different read on strength of schedule than what you might ordinarily see in traditional media outlets.
For example, the Bengals had a killer schedule as their opponents’ RPM equaled +190.
On the other hand, the Jets’ opponents were a -133 which begs the question why didn’t they make the playoffs? We may not ever know that answer, but this does help explain why they fired their coach despite what appeared to be a good performance season.
Now, if we look to the Super Bowl we see that the Steelers were third on this chart with their opponents posting a combined +116 RPM which translates to a very tough schedule.
Conversely, the Eagles’ opponents had a combined -14 RPM, which sorry to say, Philadelphia, means the Eagles did not have the toughest of schedules this season. The Cardinals came in with their opponents having a combined -52 RPM, which if you follow our logic, means that they had an easier schedule than the Eagles.
In the AFC, The Steelers beat the Ravens who had a combined opponents’ RPM of +21. The Steelers appeared to have had a tougher road not only throughout the season but in the playoffs and championship games as well. Does this make them more deserving of the Super Bowl win?
No, but it may make the Steelers a more prepared team that is much more difficult to upset than the Eagles were two weeks ago.
We know we talk a lot about numbers; and as much as we love numbers, we love the surprises that this game provides. We also know when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, these championship games are won and lost on the field.