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Super Bowl XLIX (2015): Who Will Win the Big Game?

2015 Super Bowl Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
2015 Super Bowl
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Together with Dr. Jay Granat, a psychotherapist, we studied championship factors related to sports psychology. The results are based on championships going back several decades – and across major sports including the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and professional tennis and golf.

Our work has shown that traits associated with hard work, focus on fundamentals, consistency, and minimizing errors can help to win championships. Indeed, these factors may be overlooked by many.  Since our book, Who Will Win the Big Game came out five years ago, our published predictions based on thesesports psychology quant facts” have correctly predicted the winner of major sports events 63% of the time – while picking underdogs regularly.  In this article, we look at this year’s Super Bowl. The results are based on every Super Bowl ever played, since the first Super Bowl in January 1967.

Defense

The numbers show that across all major sports, defense does indeed win championships. Defense is associated with hard-nosed, gritty work – that is typically more consistent – and can overcome glitzy offenses. A large majority of Super Bowls (63%) has been won by the team with the better defense, measured by points against. Edge: Seattle.

Minimizing Errors

Champions need to execute at a high-level, while minimizing errors and mistakes. The quarterback, as the team’s offensive leader, has a major impact in determining championships. In particular, quarterback interceptions during the regular season are great predictors of Super Bowl success. The team with fewer interceptions during the regular season has won 57% of all Super Bowls. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks edge Tom Brady and the Patriots in this category. Edge: Seattle.

Consistency

Interestingly, even with today’s high-powered NFL offenses, ball control remains one of the more important offensive indicators studied in both professional and college football. The team with a better running game, as measured by average yards per rush, has won 57% of all Super Bowls. The Seahawks led the NFL in this consistency category this season.  Edge: Seattle.

Defensive Consistency

Similarly, stopping your opponent’s running game is related to winning the big game. The team with the better rushing defense has won 57% of all Super Bowls. Seattle is ranked second compared to New England’s number nine ranking in the NFL. Edge: Seattle.

Big Game Experience and Summary

Both Seattle and New England have appeared in Super Bowls over the past three years, so this indicator is neutral. Overall, the quant facts favor the Seattle Seahawks 4-0. These factors are related to key concepts of sports psychology. Since inception, the quant facts have won at a rate of more than 60% even while picking underdogs from time to time.

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Carlton Chin, a portfolio strategist and fund manager, and Jay Granat, psychotherapist, are authors of “Who Will Win the Big Game? A Psychological & Mathematical Method.” They have previously been quoted by the Wall St. Journal, New York Times, and ESPN.  


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