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Super Bowl LII Notes and Trivia

The matchup for Super Bowl LII is set. The 13-3 New England Patriots will be facing the 13-3 Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis, Minnesota in two weeks.

  • This is a matchup of the two #1 seeds, which is starting to become a thing again. The 1993 Bills/Cowboys was the last matchup of #1 seeds in the Super Bowl for a long time, until the 2009 Colts/Saints game. From ’94 to ’12, that was the only matchup of #1 seeds in the Super Bowl, but since then, it happened in 2013 (Seahawks over Broncos), 2014 (Patriots over Seahawks), 2015 (Broncos over Panthers) and now 2017.
  • For the 8th time, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots are going to the Super Bowl. Remarkably, Brady has made the Super Bowl in half of his 16 seasons as the Patriots starting quarterback. He will, of course, extend his own record by playing in his eighth Super Bowl: no player has made seven, while Mike Lodish and Don Beebe each made six (Lodish played in all six; Beebe played in three).

Brady has made the Super Bowl in half of his seasons as a starter; the other seasons haven’t been so bad, either:

This is Belichick’s 11th Super Bowl: he was 2-0 as the Giants DC, 0-1 as the Patriots Assistant Head Coach, and 5-2 as the Patriots head coach. Belichick has five Super Bowl rings, tying him with Vince Lombardi. But with a win in Super Bowl LII, Belichick will move up the coaching ranks and tie George Halas and Curly Lambeau for most NFL titles (each won six) won by a head coach. Paul Brown won 7 championships, although only three NFL titles (the remaining four were in the AAFC). Lambeau won three straight titles from ’29 to ’31 before the NFL had playoff games; after, he went 3-1 in championship games (winning in 36, ’39, and ’44). Halas won a title in ’21, was the owner but not the coach when the team won in ’32, and then won title games as head coach in ’33, ’40, ’41, ’46, and ’63. He was not the coach when the team won in’43, and lost title games in ’34 and ’37.

  • The Patriots won 3 out of 4 Super Bowls from 2001 to 2004, beating the NFC West champion, missing the Super Bowl, beating the NFC South champion, and then beating an Eagles team whose best player suffered a serious leg injury.  New England didn’t win any Super Bowls from 2005 to 2013.  But with a win in Super Bowl LII, the Patriots will have won 3 out of 4 Super Bowls since, beating the NFC West champion, missing the Super Bowl, beating the NFC South champion, and then beating an Eagles team whose best player suffered a serious leg injury.   Oh, and after each mini-dynasty, the Patriots lost their offensive coordinator and defensive coordinators.
  • Nick Foles started just three games during the regular season, giving him the third fewest starts by a quarterback who started a Super Bowl.  The Foles/Carson Wentz situation certainly resembles the Phil Simms/Jeff Hostetler situation from 1990, and even has a Belichick tie-in.  Hostetler started two games in 1990 before leading the Giants to a Super Bowl.  Three years earlier, Doug Williams started two games — winning zero — in the regular season before leading the Redskins to a championship.
  • The Eagles are going to be underdogs for their third straight playoff game.  The 1980 Raiders and 2007 Giants are the only teams to win four games as underdogs in one postseason, with the ’85 Patriots, ’11 Giants, and ’12 Ravens being the only teams to win exactly three games as underdogs.
  • Tom Brady is going to win his 3rd Super Bowl in 4 years… or LeGarrette Blount will.  After being a member of the Patriots for the last three years, Blount is now on the Eagles.  Blount (and teammate Chris Long) would join an exclusive club if he managed to win back-to-back Super Bowls with different teams.
  • What’s the experience disadvantage at quarterback?  Nick Foles has thrown 66 touchdowns in his career, regular and postseason combined.  Brady has thrown 68 touchdown passes just in the postseason.  Nick Foles has been in the league for six years; Brady is looking to win his sixth Super Bowl.
  • Irving Fryar, Asante Samuel, and Harold Jackson are the only players who produced over 20 points of AV with both New England and Philadelphia.  Center Guy Morriss was on the ’80 Eagles and ’85 Patriots teams that lost Super Bowls, while linebacker Steve Zabel started over 40 games for both teams and was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • The Patriots have opened as 5.5-point favorites. If that holds, it would mean that in 10 Super Bowl appearances, New England has been favored by, in the aggregate… zero points.  New England was 14-point dogs to the Packers and Rams and a 10-point underdog to the ’85 Bears (total of +38).  The Patriots/Seahawks game was a pick ’em, the Patriots were favored by 3 against the Falcons and the Giants II, by 5.5 against the Eagles II, by 7 against the Eagles I and the Panthers, by 12.5 against the Giants I (total of -38).
  • Oh, but there’s no justification for that line holding at 5.5 points. The Eagles were 3-point underdogs at home to the Falcons two weeks ago.  Are we supposed to believe some combination of Atlanta being better than New England and the Eagles getting better since then? I would have set this line at Patriots -8.5.
  • This is a “rematch” in name only. Brady is the only Patriot still on the roster from 2004, and there are no Eagles from 2004 still on the team.  Brady joins Joe Montana as the only QBs to start two Super Bowls against the same franchise with different quarterbacks (Montana’s 49ers faced the Bengals with Ken Anderson in 1981 and then Boomer Esiason in 1988).
  • Nick Foles just joined Matt Ryan, Kurt Warner, Montana, Dan Marino, and Bart Starr as the only QBs to post a 130+ passer rating on 25+ passes in a conference championship game in the Super Bowl era.

Please leave any thoughts you have on Super Bowl LII in the comments.

  • Mark Growcott

    This will actually be the 4th SB in 5 years between #1 Seeds, also 2015 DEN vs. CAR.

    Tom Brady’s accomplishments continue with him being the oldest QB to start in a SB and looking to surpass Peyton Manning as the oldest QB to win a SB.

    • Good stuff. I updated the post to include DEN/CAR.

      • jgov05

        On a somewhat related note, I noticed that the home team has won every conference championship game since the 2012 season (in which both conference championship games were won by the road teams, Baltimore and San Francisco).

  • Mark Growcott

    Not only are Blount and Long attempting to join a select group of players to win back-to-back SBs with different teams, they would be doing so against the team for whom they won their first ring. Rather unique set of circumstances.

    • Good point!

      • James

        Little typo: After being a member of the Patriots for the last three years, Blount is now on the **Patriots.**

  • After a stretch from 1997-2012 that saw a team from Wildcard Weekend play in the Super Bowl 11 of 16 seasons, we’ve now gone 5 straight years without a team from Wildcard Weekend playing in the Super Bowl. It’s now the second longest streak in history behind 1986-1991.

  • Tom

    Regarding the Vegas spread, I tend to agree with you. I’d probably go a little lower at 7.5, but yeah, a touchdown at least. I think it’s safe to say that seeing the Patriots squeak out a win against the Jags, and the Eagles blowing the Vikings out of the water has a lot – actually, it has everything – to do with this 5.5-point spread. I’m assuming the line will creep up as we get closer…

    • Johhny Ohrl

      Didn´t you tell me (and finally convinced me 🙂 last year) that D wins championships? Now have a look at the PHI D and the NE D. Normally, its no contest. Eagles should win by a big margin if there wasn´t that NFL entertainment stuff going on since the early 2000s to keep basically every SB close to guarantee maximum commerical dollars from minute one to minute sixty…
      Smart bookies! 5.5 is ok, if not too high… But since they want to (and surely will) suck in all the favorite bettors that make them richer in the long run, than they already are with the 10% comission, may the line goes up. In such case, I have to bet another amount of around 30 Euro to maximize my EV. I would do so if the moneyline goes over 3.2 (= around 7 line)… Now it hovers around 2.90

      • Tom

        No, I wasn’t the guy that convinced you “D wins championships”! You and I got into it about Peyton Manning and how I thought he played alright in his Super Bowl against the Saints (even with the game-ending pick-six).

        As far as the spread goes, 5.5 seems too low, but I understand it: the Pats squeaked one out against the Jags, who are good, but the public maybe isn’t quite on board, and the Eagles blew out everyone’s sentimental favorite the Vikings. Imagine this spread if the Eagles lost a close one…

        • Johhny Ohrl

          I thought you brought up the SRS stuff before the SB comparing high powered offenses vs defenses, no? Defenses had the edge, you showed me the evidence, no?
          It was the time I was sure ATL will win the SB easily. And I was right for 2 1/2 quarters. The rest was rigged entertainment. My final NFL game. That was enough for me. Impossible to come back from 25 between evenly matched teams… I felt seriously pranked by the NFL. If I hadn´t bet on NE as insurance, I´d have run mad…

          • Tom

            Hmm…well, now that you say it, maybe I did bring that stuff out. I just don’t remember trying to “convince” anyone about defenses, but maybe I was! Losing my memory!

            Yes, I agree the line is based on more than the last game, but I’m thinking if the Patriots blew out the Jags and the Eagles won a close game against the Vikings, I think this line would be higher. But heck, “coulda, shoulda, woulda” as we say here in the USA…who knows, maybe the line wouldn’t be higher. Just seems like it to me…

            • Johhny Ohrl

              Even you didn´t want to convince me, you did ;-)… Geez, I was furious about that SB (I guess no one ever was angry after winning a huge bet). My prediction was perfect (early big lead for ATL, and then go on to win) until things got absurd… I guess defenses would NOT win championships if teams threw on every down. It works as we all know (I heard about the so-called miracle in MIN where a prevent defense could not even stop a All-for-nothing-and-61-to-go. Grotesque. Or the Rodgers hail marys, even two in one drive back in the days vs ARZ). Heck I am happy to be out of this entertainment only stuff. Thats no football. Thats gimmick entertainment…

              Btw, I wrote about the line on the latest article. Ofc with another SB prediction that will go to hell 😉

    • Four Touchdowns

      The line has absolutely nothing to do with who the oddsmakers think will win.

      The line is created to have an equal amount of money on both teams. They make money off of the action, not the lost bets.

      • Tom

        Subtle point about to be made here:

        From what I read about this stuff, and from listening to ESPN’s “Behind the Bets” religiously for the past 4 or so years (so I’m not an expert, but somewhat in the loop), the feeling I get is that they *do* want to make more than just what they get off the action. The reason they shift the line around to even out the bets is to mitigate their losses, which is not quite the same thing as just setting the line so they get equal action.

        Here’s what I mean: Vegas will set a line and a flood of money will come in on one side. OK, so they move the line to attract more money on the other side. BUT, they have about as good an idea as anyone (some studies have shown that they indeed have the BEST idea) of what the “real” spread should be, so they don’t drastically move the line…they move it enough so that, in their estimation, they won’t get killed if the majority is right. They don’t just start moving the line until the action is equal.

        And Vegas isn’t always right…in a lot of cases they *should* have moved a line more and didn’t. I think the Browns is a good example of that this year…the Browns just could not cover a spread, but you didn’t see Vegas hiking the spreads on the Browns that much. Cleveland didn’t have a bad team, it sure looked to me like they were good enough to cover some of these spreads, but they didn’t.

        Finally, if you listen to the above-mentioned podcast, you’ll hear the bookmaker say things like “Man, we REALLY needed the Raiders this weekend” or “Yeah, we knew we could push the line up a bit because the public loves betting on the Packers”, etc.

        So yes, I believe “equal action” is certainly in their minds, and yep, they make money when the action is equal. But I do believe they’re *trying* to make more than that. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have things like the “80/20” rule, which says “If 80% of the money is one side, bet the other side”. While this doesn’t always work out, it highlights the fact that indeed the action *can be* unequal on a game and Vegas doesn’t do anything about it. They ride it out and hope that they’re right (they usually are).

        • Johhny Ohrl

          Without knowing it, you´re correct. The line is set higher than the “true” line. Reason: Fans bet the favourites. A study in early 2000s showed that up to 90% of betting amounts go on the favo (most of this extreme cases are home favourites). So to gain even more profit than the approx 10% comission on winning bets (= 5% on total wagered money) if both sides get even action, they set the line that favos only cover approx 48%, thus the sportbooks are making 20% more profits. Problem is: If you (as bettor) bet the underdogs you still lose money, but not as much. So to win in the long run, a simple bet-the-underdog-strategy doesnt help. I spent hundreds of hours on historical betting line stats (NFL, last couple of years AFL) in addition to game statistics… but my record is still “only” about 51% (I am proud of it anyway. To beat the line in the long run, is hard, very hard)*. But without the various bonuses from sportsbooks, I would be in the minus. And it´s attacking your heart. Just had a 8 game losing streak on NHL games (3 losses came on OT/penalties, none of this OT games worked in favour of my dogs), so I did some more work. To my surprise: The bet-the-underdog-strategy doesnt work with the NHL, meaning losing less money than the average bettor (and I wonder how long it still will in the NFL, once the simple bettors find out the “secret” of betting the dogs)…

          Oh, and btw: Yes the bookies are awesome in setting the lines. But they also get a lot of help from computer programmers with their algorithms.

          * You need to win approx 52.5% of your bets to break even. If you get lucky, and think you´re brilliant when winning 60% of the first 50 games, the hammer will hit you back to reality on the first long losing streak (had some that went 14 games, because I bet moneylines only)…

          P.S.: I dont care about the fix anymore. Its a 50/50 to be on the wrong side of a fix. It evens out on the long run. No need to watch the games. Hockey is pretty boring… But I watch AFL. But never bet “my” Swans, that would spoil the party.

  • Johhny Ohrl

    “I would have set this line at Patriots -8.5” …
    But the bookmakers need to be smart to make max profits for their syndicates in Vegas and underground…
    Btw, I believe 5.5 is too high! So I have bet 30 Euro on PHI at 2.90 moneyline as soon it offically hit the markets…
    The playoffs betting worked well again for me, since the usual higher percentage of upsets happened compared to the regular season (I still think the fix is in, especially in the heavily bet playoffs, where birds can easily hide big amounts, so the line doesnt shift alarmingly)…

    IF the officals work normal, it shall be a tight game… Foles has a strong arm, he was at 59 mph (iirc) at the combine. Thus he can make all the throws (and showed it back in the days with Kelly & now… something that butter arms like Frye, Glennon, McNown etc never can/could. I still wonder whom they bribed to get an NFL contract)…
    Foles further throws a accurate tight spiral. Since the D of NE wasn´t that good this year (only 20th in Y/P, compared to 6th last year), Foles should have enough time to pick that D apart, as every above average NFL QB can do (and Foles is one of them. He only lacked repetitions in practise as every back up does. Plus he was “murdered” under Fisher, another guy I wonder whom he bribed to stay that long in the NFL).
    Otherwise, my boycott of the NFL since the Head-butting-ball-SB works fine. Thanks god I did it (since after that disaster struck even worse: with the players doing their BS to the country and people that made them rich)… Last year I only watched the playoffs, this year I skipped them all together. But the SB is a must-be-in-beer-contest with old friends. Fo the sake of tradition 🙂 Never missed one since the mid 80s…
    Cheers. Greetings from Germany…