Indeterminable Certainty – A Look at Super Bowl XLI

I was perusing ESPN the Magazine and came across an article previewing tonight’s Super Bowl match up between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears.  This article presented 5 arguments as to which team had the advantage of winning.  The one that jumped out at me was the concept of Pythagorean wins.  It claims that rather than looking at wins and losses in the regular season, one should review the formula devised by stats guru Daryl Morey that takes into consideration Points Scored versus Points Allowed in the regular season.   Since 1989, the team that has finished first or second in Pythagorean wins has won 16 of 18 titles.  In this past season, the Bears had 12.4 PW’s.  The Colts had only 9.6.

This got me to thinking about all the quirky, little stats and the slew of information that is unearthed every year before the Big Game.  Everyone becomes an expert.  Everyone becomes a statistician.  Everyone has an opinion as to why THEIR team will win.  Well, if you know me, you know I’m a geek.  Particularly, a sports geek.  And when in comes to general Super Bowl trivia and knowledge, my geekness is off the charts.

So here are some nuggets of knowledge you may appreciate regarding tonight’s game.

  • This is the ninth Super Bowl to be played in Miami.  In the previous eight games played, the advantage goes to the AFC (4-3).   We cannot count Super Bowl III in which the Jets defeated the Colts.  Both teams are currently in the AFC.
  • Of the Super Bowls in Miami, they have been played in 2 different stadiums, however, this will be the 4th different stadium name for a Miami Super Bowl (Orange Bowl, Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphin Stadium).
  • Speaking of the Colts, this is the third appearance for them in a Super Bowl.  All three games have been in Miami.  The Colts are 1-1 in their previous two games.
  • Speaking about .500 performances, the Southeastern Conference has produced 8 Super Bowl starters.  They are 4-4 and this stat is guaranteed to remain unchanged following tonight’s Super Bowl.  Both Manning and Grossman played their college ball in the SEC.
  • In a related aside, the PAC 10 has produced the most winning Super Bowl starting quarterbacks (8).  For that matter, the PAC 10 has also produced the most losing Super Bowl starting quarterbacks (9).
  • The starting quarterbacks of the first 10 Super Bowls are in the pro football Hall of Fame.  Ken Stabler (Super Bowl XI) remains up for HOF consideration every year.
  • Speaking of future hall-of-famer’s, Peyton Manning is from Louisiana.  LSU, Louisiana Tech, U of L Monroe and U of L Lafayette have all produced Super Bowl starting quarterbacks, and they are a combined 4-3 in those games.
  • Finally, of all the franchises making their second ever appearance in a Super Bowl (alla the Bears), they are 11 – 7 in their second game.  The Colts lost their first Super Bowl but won their second.

What does this mean regarding Super Bowl XLI?  Actually, nothing.  To quote O.J. Simpson, the team that will win the game is the one that outscores its opponent.  No wonder he hasn’t found the real killer yet.   And if you are a Bears fan and hanging your hat on the aforementioned Pythagorean Wins, it’s important to know the Bears were 2nd in PW’s this season.  In order to reach the Super Bowl, the Colts defeated the Ravens and Patriots, numbers 1 and 3 on that list, respectively.

There are so many variables that come into play during a game if this magnitude.  Preparation, nervousness, officiating, weather, sheer dumb luck.  Nothing can be predicted and nothing is ever certain.  Well, perhaps one thing is.  Tomorrow the pundits and stat jockeys will be at it again digesting the data and analyzing every angle of what happened in the game.  As for me, I will still be digesting the hoards of food I am certain to eat.  Calories, carbs and cold beer.  Those numbers will be irrefutable.

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