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A Superbowl of Averages

A Superbowl of Averages

After seeing the recaps of the Ravens/Pats and 49ers/Hawks game, with the Ravens and 49ers coming out on top, I immediately began to think of who the Superbowl champs would be.  The numbers paint a pretty clear picture of who ‘should’ win, but the great and terrible thing about the NFL playoffs is it’s one and done so who really knows?

First let’s examine those stats, starting with the 49ers:

Their offense season averages: (#s in ()’s indicate position in the league)

PTS                  YDS                  PASS YDS         RUSH YDS

24.8                 361.8                 206.1                         155.7
(11th)               (11th)               (23rd)                       (4th)

Their defensive season averages:

PTS                  YDS                  PASS YDS         RUSH YDS

17.1                 294.4               200.2                       94.2
(4th)                (2nd)               (3rd)                      (4th)

And the Ravens:

Offensive season averages:

PTS                  YDS                  PASS YDS         RUSH YDS

24.9                 352.5               233.7               118.8
(10th)              (16th)              (15th)              (11th)

Defensive season averages:

PTS                  YDS                  PASS YDS         RUSH YDS

21.5                 350.9               228.1               122.8
(12th)              (17th)              (17th)              (20th)

Even more telling than these stats are these teams’ postseason stats (which paints a better picture with where the team is in relation to playoff caliber teams, and where the team is as of the last couple of weeks.)

For the Ravens:                                                   Ravens                       Opponents

TOTAL FIRST DOWNS 64 83
FIRST DOWNS (Rushing-passing-by penalty) 19 – 40 – 5 21 – 50 – 12
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS 16/39(41%) 23/51(45%)
FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS 0/1(0%) 2/5(40%)
TOTAL OFFENSIVE YARDS 1274 1245
OFFENSE (Plays-Average Yards) 201 – 6.3 256 – 4.9
TOTAL RUSHING YARDS 446 385
RUSHING (Plays-Average Yards) 104 – 4.3 99 – 3.9
TOTAL PASSING YARDS 828 860
PASSING (Comp-Att-Int-Avg) 51 – 93 – 0 – 9.2(55%) 85 – 151 – 5 – 5.9(56%)
SACKS 6 4
FIELD GOALS 2/2 5/7
TOUCHDOWNS 12 6
(Rushing-Passing-Returns-Defensive) 3 – 8 – 0 – 1 0 – 4 – 2 – 0
TIME OF POSSESSION 30:03 35:30

And For the 49ers:                                                          49ers                 Opponents

TOTAL FIRST DOWNS 50 47
FIRST DOWNS (Rushing-passing-by penalty) 23 – 22 – 5 10 – 32 – 5
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS 10/19(53%) 10/21(48%)
FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS 0/0(n/a) 1/2(50%)
TOTAL OFFENSIVE YARDS 952 829
OFFENSE (Plays-Average Yards) 126 – 7.6 122 – 6.8
TOTAL RUSHING YARDS 472 185
RUSHING (Plays-Average Yards) 72 – 6.6 39 – 4.7
TOTAL PASSING YARDS 480 644
PASSING (Comp-Att-Int-Avg) 33 – 52 – 1 – 9.5 56 – 81 – 2 – 8.1
SACKS 2 2
FIELD GOALS 1/2 2/2
TOUCHDOWNS 10 7
(Rushing-Passing-Returns-Defensive) 7 – 3 – 0 – 0 1 – 5 – 0 – 1
TIME OF POSSESSION 32:59 27:01

 

With a great running game, above average total offense and one of the overall best defenses in the league, the 49ers seem the clear favorite.  Especially considering the Ravens have allowed more passing, rushing and total yards than they themselves have earned on average.  Yet somehow, despite earning far less first downs than their opponents, completing a slightly lower percentage of their passes allowing 4% more 3rd down conversions (though on the flipside, they do force their opponents to play a 3rd down more often than they themselves do) the Ravens have managed to outscore their opponents by more than a field goal, and in the playoffs have turned it up quite a bit further, scoring twice as many touchdowns as their opponent.  Sounds like a prime position if there ever was one, especially considering they took down the number one offense in the Patriots this week.  Then again the 49ers came back from down 17.

Taking all this into consideration, I think the game will come down to two things.  The Raven’s effectiveness with the ball on offense vs the 49ers defense, and the 49ers exploiting the likelihood of them having the ball for a greater stretch of the game, turning it into points.  When the Ravens are efficient they can win despite getting less overall offensive stats by getting more out of each play-translating ultimately into more points.  On the flipside, if the 49ers can turn the time they have with the ball-which at least in theory should be considerably more than the Ravens time with the ball-into points, they’re likely to simply outscore the Ravens, even if the Raven’s offense does well.

So who will be the big winner in Superbowl XLVII?  I think the 49ers will probably take home the trophy, their balanced rushing/passing attack will undoubtedly challenge the Raven defense to the limit, and for a defense that already allows more offensive yardage than it’s own team generates, I think it’ll be too much to overcome, though the Ravens certainly have some emotional momentum coming into the game, which is huge in football.  It should be a great game.   If not, we can all enjoy the commercials.  Ultimately the big winner will of course be the network broadcasting it, this year CBS.  Afterall, they’ll be the ones walking away with millions of dollars for selling 30 seconds of air time at a time.

The biggest loser for Superbowl XLVII? Jackie Harbaugh of course, mother of both coaches.  Either way she’ll have to console one of her sons over their loss and can’t shower the winner with too much praise and adoration without appearing to show favoritism.  She simply can’t win.  Then again, she can’t lose entirely either.

Note: All Stats and picture taken from NFL.com.

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