Super Bowl 48  

 

Historical stats serve as basis for Super Bowl prediction

In Sunday's Super Bowl XLV matchup between the Steelers and Packers, it's hard to pick a winner between two very evenly matched teams. It's even more difficult when you break down the teams based on meaningful statistics, something I did here.

I thought it would be interesting to look at the game through a four-quarter (and overtime) format to see who has the statistical edge (that's right, I'm predicting overtime -- the first ever in Super Bowl history):

First quarter

» Super Bowl winning percentage: XLV features the two winningest teams in playoff history. Having played in 44 postseason games, the Packers have compiled a 28-16 record (63.6 percent), while the Steelers have gone 33-19 (63.5 percent) in 52 playoff appearances. Advantage: Packers

» Offensive points: The team with the better offensive numbers in the regular season has won the big game 23 out of 44 times. This season, the Packers ranked 10th with 388 points, while the Steelers came in 12th with 375. Advantage: Packers

» Third-down conversions: It's a statistic that is often the difference in a tight game. The Steelers were the sixth-best team on third downs in the regular season, converting 43.1 percent of their chances. The Packers ranked eighth (41.5). Advantage: Steelers

END OF FIRST QUARTER: Packers 2, Steelers 1

Second quarter

» Time of possession: The Packers and Steelers are so close when it comes to time of possession that it is difficult to determine just who holds an advantage here. In the regular season, the Steelers averaged a possession time of 32:24, slightly higher than the Packers (32:01). In the postseason, the tables were turned with Green Bay (34:47) holding a small edge over Pittsburgh (34:34). Advantage: Packers (playoffs count more than regular season)

» Regular-season sacks: Pressure on the quarterback can change the dynamic for even the most prolific offense. In the regular season, the Steelers and Packers were the two best teams at getting to the quarterback. The Steelers totaled 48 sacks, while the Packers recorded 47. Advantage: Steelers

» Postseason sacks: It was a different story in the playoffs, though keep in mind that as the NFC's sixth seed, the Packers have played three playoff games to the Steelers' two. Nevertheless, the Packers have a plus-5 sack ratio in those three games, while the Steelers are minus-1. Advantage: Packers

HALFTIME: Packers 4, Steelers 2

Third quarter

» Points allowed: The Super Bowl team with fewer points allowed in the regular season has won 28 out of 44 matchups. Green Bay allowed 240 total points in 2010, ranking second to just one team -- you guessed it -- Pittsburgh (232). Advantage: Steelers

» Regular-season turnover differential: Win the turnover battle, win the game. Teams with a positive turnover differential have gone 32-3 all-time in the Super Bowl (there were nine times the teams had the same number of turnovers). In the regular season, the Steelers had a plus-17 turnover ratio. The Packers were less efficient with a plus-10 differential. Advantage: Steelers

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» Postseason turnover differential: It has been a different story in the playoffs, where the Packers have enjoyed a plus-3 turnover differential. The Steelers are even in turnover differential in the playoffs. Advantage: Packers

END OF THIRD QUARTER: Packers 5, Steelers 4

Fourth quarter

» Age of quarterback: With age comes experience, but that doesn't necessarily translate into Super Bowl success for quarterbacks. The younger of the two Super Bowl signal-callers has actually come out on top just as many times as the elders have. For what it's worth, Ben Roethlisberger is 28 years old, while Aaron Rodgers is 27. In fact, Roethlisberger and Rodgers were born within 10 months of each other, making this the seventh time in the 44-year history of the Super Bowl that has been the case, with a 3-3 split in those instances. Advantage: Tie

» Age of coach: Mike Tomlin became the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl when the Steelers defeated the Cardinals following the 2009 season, bucking the notion that experience translates into Super Bowl success. In fact, the younger of the two Super Bowl coaches has won the big game 25 out of 44 times. Packers coach Mike McCarthy is 47 years old, while Tomlin is 38. Advantage: Steelers

END OF REGULATION: Packers 5, Steelers 5

Overtime

Sunday will mark just the third time in Super Bowl history that a team has reached the Super Bowl after posting a 10-6 regular-season record, and both times those teams have emereged victorious. The 10-6 49ers defeated the Bengals, 20-16, in Super Bowl XXIII. The 10-6 Giants upset the undefeated Patriots, 17-14, in Super Bowl XLII.

This year, the 10-6 Packers face the 12-4 Steelers. Advantage: Packers

FINAL: Packers 6, Steelers 5

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