New England -3 @ Atlanta 58.5

Monday February 6, 10:30am AEDT

Both teams enjoyed a bye during the wild card round and then with home field advantage proceeded to roll over each of their two opponents. In the case of New England it was 34-16 and 36-17 scores and for Atlanta it was 36-20 and 44-21. In the Championship games both teams were extremely efficient in the passing game as Atlanta averaged 10.3 yards per pass and New England averaged 8.5 yards per pass.

Key Stats


OFR – Offensive yards rushing
OFP – Offensive yards passing
DFR – Defensive yards rushing allowed
DFP – Defensive yards passing allowed
YPR = Yards Per Rush
YPS = Yards Per Pass
YPPL = Yards Per Play


In looking at stats between the two teams I removed the first four games for New England without Tom Brady and also removed the regular season game against Pittsburgh, who played without Ben Roethlisberger. For Atlanta I included all of their games as they primarily played the whole season with a fairly healthy squad and every game for them had relevance in terms of the standings and potential playoff implications.

New England averaged 31 points per game against teams allowing 23 points per game and Atlanta averaged 34 points per game against teams allowing 24 points per game. Based on the stats above, we can see New England allowed only 16 points per game but that was against teams averaging just 20 points per game so they played a very weak offensive collection of opponents. Atlanta, meanwhile, allowed 25 points per game, but did so against a collection of teams that offensively averaged 24 points per game. New England would be expected to score about nine points more than an average team while Atlanta would be expected to score about six more points than an average team. Advantage NEW ENGLAND

The Patriots struggled to run the ball averaging just 3.6 yards per rush against teams allowing 4.2 yards per rush. But, they’ll face an Atlanta team who allows 4.6 yards per rush against teams that average only 4.1 yards per rush. Based on those numbers New England should be pretty average running the ball. Atlanta averages 4.4 yards per rush against teams allowing 4.1 yards per rush. They’ll face a Patriots rush defense allowing just 3.6 yards per rush against teams averaging 4.2 yards per rush. Atlanta will probably be just below average running the ball. Advantage NEW ENGLAND

New England averages 7.7 yards per pass against teams allowing 6.3 yards per pass or in other words about 1.4 yards per pass better than their opponents. Atlanta is better than average defending the pass allowing 6.1 yards per pass against teams averaging 6.3 yards per pass. Based on these numbers I would expect New England to average about 1.2 yards per pass better than average. Atlanta averages a whopping 8.3 yards per pass against teams allowing 6.6 yards per pass or about 1.7 yards per pass better than average. New England is also above average defending the pass allowing 5.9 yards per pass against teams averaging 6.0 yards per pass. Based on these numbers I would expect Atlanta to average about 1.6 yards per pass better than average. Advantage ATLANTA

From a yards per play basis New England averages 5.9 yards per play against teams allowing 5.4 yards per play. Atlanta, meanwhile, allows 5.6 yards per play against teams averaging 5.4 yards per play. Based on this we can expect New England to average about 0.7 yards per play better than average. Atlanta averages 6.7 yards per play against teams allowing 5.6 yards per play while New England allows 5.1 yards per play against teams averaging 5.3 yards per play. Atlanta could be expected to average about 0.9 yards per play better than average. Advantage ATLANTA

Atlanta qualifies in a negative situation as playoff teams coming off a game where they scored 39 or more points are just 4-26-1 ats. Carolina qualified in this same negative situation last year. This game also qualifies in an over situation which is 26-11-0 to the over. That situation is 2-0-0 this year in the playoffs. However, that situation is 4-4 when the total is higher than 55, including 0-1 to the under in the Super Bowl. I’ve run many parameters for this game including all games for both teams, the situation listed above which excludes games Brady didn’t play and the regular season game against Pittsburgh and games for both teams against playoff teams only.

With each of those scenarios I have three different power ratings I run so a total of nine different power ratings. Six of those power ratings favor NE from one point to three points with the majority of them favouring NE by about 1.5 points. One makes this game a pick ‘em and two favour Atlanta by 2.5 points and 1.5 points. From a total perspective the predictions range from 54 to 58 points. Putting it all together I get New England by one point and project about 55.5 points.

If I compare drive charts for both teams I get a final of New England 33.4 to Atlanta 30.2 or in other words favouring NE by three points and projecting about 63.5 points. But, a much closer look at both teams against similar competition shows a much different projected score. Atlanta played five games this year against above average defensive teams. Those teams were Seattle (twice), Denver, LA Rams and Philadelphia. Four of those five games were played on the road providing an even better test of what we can expect in this game against a better than average New England defence. Atlanta scored touchdowns on 35.2% of their drives this year. The league average is about 21.9%.

When faced against those above average defensive teams, Atlanta scored touchdowns on just 25% of their drives. Those four teams (five games) give up touchdowns at an average rate of 19.2% of all of their defensive drives so Atlanta was still above average on offence but not at the same rate of their overall seasonal numbers. When doing similar match-ups for both offence and defence for both teams when facing similar competition I get a final score of New England 28.6 to Atlanta 25.5 or New England by three points and a projected score of about 54 points.

For New England this is their seventh Super Bowl under the current regime and they have won four SB’s during this regime. The perception is NE is a great team (and they are) and rolls in these Super Bowl’s but in reality they are just 2-4 ats in their six Super Bowls, which includes being 2-0 ats as a underdog and 0-4 ats as a favourite. There is also a common belief that New England has an edge in experience and that will lead them to a victory. But, in reality, in the games they failed to cover in the Super Bowl, they took on Carolina, Philadelphia and the Giants (2007) who all had players going to the Super Bowl for the first time.

Ironically, their covers have come against experienced teams in the Super Bowl when they won and covered against the Rams and Seahawks who had both recently played in the Super Bowl. New England has won three of their four Super Bowls by three points and the other game by four points. They have also lost by three and four points so their Super Bowls are typically very close games and this game figures to be close as well.

Bill Belichick figures to put together a great game plan as he usually does. In 2001 he beat the high flying St. Louis Rams 20-17 although the Patriots were badly beat from the line of scrimmage in that game but they forced three turnovers including one interception returned for a touchdown that kept them in the game. In 1990 Belichick was defensive coordinator for the Giants and they defeated the high flying Buffalo Bills 20-19.

Again Belichick was out gained from the line of scrimmage badly but found a way to win that game by letting Buffalo run the ball but taking away their potent passing game. The Giants also controlled the clock by holding the ball for over 40 minutes in that game to just over 19 minutes for the Bills. Here we go again and although New England has a better offence than Belichick had in either of the two previously mentioned games, it figures Belichick will come up with a game plan to keep Atlanta somewhat contained.

And, that gives us an excellent chance for this game to come in under the high posted total. There is still some doubt as to how good the New England defense is. They are certainly above average but this will be the toughest test they have faced this year. In every scenario I run the best I get is New England by three points or less. If their defence isn’t quite as good as their numbers because they have faced a weak offensive schedule this year then Atlanta has an excellent chance to win this game and certainly stay within the three point line.



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