View Full Version : The Betfair Contrarian: Why the New England Patriots won't win the Super Bowl

01-07-2011, 05:20 PM
The Betfair Contrarian: Why the New England Patriots won't win the Super Bowl

The Contrarian doesn't think Tom Brady will be celebrating at the end of the season

"In none of the last six seasons has the team with the best regular season record won the Super Bowl... "

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Patriots, yet they boast the best record in the league (14-2) and the honour of starting the playoffs as 2.94 favourite to win the whole thing. The Contrarian's not having it, though...

The Super Bowl is often a tournament for underdogs

In none of the last six seasons has the team with the best regular season record won the Super Bowl (including the Patriots' unforgettable shock loss to the Giants in February 2008, when they went unbeaten all the way to the final game, then folded like cardboard.) Four of the last five Super Bowls were also won by the finalist that won fewer games in the regular season. In the only one that went to form it took a last minute touchdown for Pittsburgh to avoid one of the greatest ever Super Bowl shocks against the Arizona Cardinals.

They're inexperienced

In the playoffs the speed and intensity increases significantly from the regular season, and New England have key players, particularly at running back and cornerback, who have yet to experience this. This is not a veteran-heavy defense like the Pats had when they were winning Super Bowls early last decade, and a less experienced defense is more prone to making mistakes at key moments.

They match up poorly with Baltimore

The Ravens, New England's most likely play-off opponents, have twice traveled to Foxboro since last January. The results were a resounding Ravens 33-14 playoff win and a 23-20 Patriots overtime win this past October in which Baltimore outplayed New England for three quarters before melting down in the fourth. Baltimore's physical defense can knock the smaller New England receivers off their routes and they're also effective at rushing the passer with four players, which allows seven to drop into coverage. This is the only way to stop Tom Brady, who makes such quick decisions that he kills defenses who try to blitz him (he gets the ball off before blitzing players get to him, and the fewer players in coverage leave receivers open).

There's a theory in the NFL that good teams who get blown out perform very well against the same opponent the next time the teams meet.

Of their possible AFC opponents (Jets, Colts, Ravens, Chiefs, Steelers) , the Patriots thrashed the Jets (by 42 points) and the Steelers (by 13 points). Over the last five seasons, road teams that have a winning record on the season and are avenging a loss against an opponent by 14 points or more, are 29-4 against the spread. Granted, this stat is against the spread and not straight-up. But the theory behind the number is that the more teams are familiar with each other, the more evenly they will play; and a team on the losing side of a big score is more motivated than a team on the winning side.

It is worth paying attention to the "2" in the Patriots 14-2 record

No one capable of losing 34-14 to the eternally hapless Cleveland Browns (five wins all season) can consider themselves invulnerable. The other team to beat the Pats was the Jets, who have a permanent score to settle with them, ever since coach Belichick walked out on them after one day on the job to join New England in 1999.

There's a question mark against their defense

No team scored more points this year, yet folklore says defense wins Superbowls, and the Pats are leaky for such a dominant team. The statistical boffins at footballoutsiders.com have devised a team efficiency system called Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) which gives the Pats the best rated offense, but a defense rated only 19th in the NFL. Top ranked are Pittsburgh, who the Patriots will probably have to get past. The Ravens are fourth.