Some of the splendidly ironic moments in Tremendous Bowl historical past occurred simply earlier than kickoff in February 2002, when St. Louis Rams broad receiver Ricky Proehl turned to NFL Movies’ cameras throughout warmups and declared: “Tonight, a dynasty is born!”
Proehl was proper, in fact. A dynasty was born that night time — simply not the one he was imagining. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots ended up toppling the closely favored Rams in Tremendous Bowl XXXVI, utilizing it as a springboard for the best run of sustained success any NFL staff has ever recognized.
The Patriots have been the up-and-coming workforce again then, whereas the Rams have been the established champions with the veteran, future Corridor of Fame quarterback. This time round, although, the roles will probably be reversed for the 2 franchises — with the Patriots serving because the elder statesmen, whereas the Rams are the staff on the rise. It’s a becoming turnabout, one that includes what the Elias Sports activities Bureau decided was the most important hole in age between each beginning quarterbacks (Tom Brady is 17 years and 72 days older than Jared Goff) and head coaches (Invoice Belichick is 33 years and 283 days older than Sean McVay) in Tremendous Bowl historical past.
The Rams opened the betting Sunday night time as slight favorites with some sportsbooks (so sure, you possibly can say you have been an underdog, Tom), although that didn’t final lengthy. A flood of bets for the Patriots pushed the road to favor New England by 2½ factors, in accordance with the present consensus in Vegas. Right here’s what our Elo scores take into consideration the matchup, utilizing each the basic model from our interactive and one with the experimental quarterback changes we’ve been tinkering with:
OK, Elo — who ya received within the Tremendous Bowl?
Win chances for Week 21 video games based on two strategies: normal Elo and adjusting for beginning quarterbacks
|Normal Elo||QB-Adjusted Elo|
|Staff||Score||Win Prob.||Base Rtg||Beginning QB||QB Adj.||Win Prob.|
Elo quarterback changes are relative to common, based mostly on a rolling common of defense-adjusted QB stats (together with dashing).
The Patriots nonetheless someway have two essential elements from that unique Tremendous Bowl towards the Rams: Brady and Belichick. At age 41, Brady had his worst passing numbers in a number of years, but he additionally was nonetheless a top-10 QB (at worst), a Professional Bowler and — it bears emphasizing — impossibly productive for his age. All of that got here regardless of throwing to a revolving-door forged of receivers and a less-dominant model of longtime safety blanket Rob Gronkowski. All advised, Brady led an offense that also ranked fourth in scoring and eighth in anticipated factors added, albeit with a decrease per-game EPA common than any Pats staff with Brady as starter since 2013.
For Belichick’s half, this season noticed his Patriots enhance considerably on protection, leaping from 24th in EPA in 2017 to seventh in 2018. Though New England tied for the second-fewest sacks within the league, it generated the third-most strain (based on ESPN’s Stats & Info Group), pressured the second-lowest completion proportion and usually was the most effective Patriots cross protection shortly. And this group was additionally a celebration of Belichick the (de facto) common supervisor: Along with shrewd veteran acquisitions akin to CB Stephon Gilmore and LB Kyle Van Noy, a big share of the Pats’ manufacturing got here from draft picks remodeled the previous few years, together with DLs Trey Flowers and Malcom Brown, OLs Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney, and rookie RB Sony Michel. All of these pickups helped gasoline a Pats roster that also relied closely on Brady to work his magic but in addition blocked nicely and performed sound protection.
The Patriots’ run wasn’t all the time straightforward, in fact. The 2018 version had the second-worst factors per recreation differential and lowest Elo score of the franchise’s Tremendous Bowl-bound squads since … you guessed it, the 2001 workforce. However perhaps that’s simply additional proof that every thing really has come full circle in New England. They’re definitely hoping the story ends the identical approach this time round.
As for these present Rams, they don’t seem to be too dissimilar from their Biggest Present on Turf forebears, both. Los Angeles outscored opponents by 143 complete factors within the common season (third-best in soccer) and obtained excessive marks in each energy rating on the market, together with Elo (which ranks them No. 2), Soccer Outsiders’ Protection-adjusted Worth Over Common (No. 2), ProFootballFocus’s rankings (No. 2), Jeff Sagarin’s scores (No. 2), Andy Dolphin’s predictive score (No. three) and Professional-Soccer-Reference.com’s Easy Score System (No. three). Although they by no means truly ranked first in Elo at any level through the season, the Rams have been persistently one of many recreation’s prime contenders all yr lengthy.
They usually obtained that approach nearly as shortly as these fabled 1999 Rams, who went Four-12 the yr earlier than Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk modified the franchise’s fortunes perpetually. The 2018 season culminated a exceptional two-year turnaround arc underneath soon-to-be-33-year-old coach Sean McVay, who took L.A. from a Four-12 catastrophe in 2016 underneath former coach Jeff Fisher to an 11-5 document final yr, and now a Tremendous Bowl. Over that span, the Rams went from an Elo score of 1346 to 1667, a achieve of 321 Elo factors. Solely 4 different Tremendous Bowl groups in historical past have gained extra score factors from the top of two seasons previous to the beginning of the large recreation itself — the 1998 Atlanta Falcons (+368), 1981 San Francisco 49ers (+360), 1992 Dallas Cowboys (+357) and 1971 Miami Dolphins (+339). Even the ’99 Rams had “solely” gained 246 factors of Elo from the top of 1997, although they do personal the most important single-season achieve ever for a Tremendous Bowl workforce.
How did L.A. do it? The cornerstones of the 2018 staff — Goff, DT Aaron Donald and RB Todd Gurley — have been all drafted by the membership from 2014 to 2016. However basic supervisor Les Snead did his greatest work over the 2017 and 2018 offseasons, snagging the bulk of the present staff’s different starters both by way of the draft or in a flurry of win-now strikes that principally look sensible in hindsight. The opposite key ingredient was teaching, the place (with a number of bizarre exceptions on Sunday) McVay has proven a incredible knack for incorporating analytical considering into his play-calling, and he stays the grasp of retaining defenses off-balance by operating virtually all of his performs out of the identical personnel package deal. Whereas there are very authentic questions as as to if Goff or Gurley might be as profitable in a unique system, the pair has powered a Tremendous Bowl run beneath McVay’s scheme.
Every staff wanted luck to get right here, too. The Rams doubtless wouldn’t be headed to Atlanta with no blown pass-interference name that stored New Orleans from operating down a lot of the clock in regulation, as an alternative giving L.A. the prospect to pressure extra time and ultimately win the sport. The Patriots benefited from a phantom roughing-the-passer penalty and a (respectable) offside name that negated what would have been a game-ending interception, then rattled off what felt like one million straight third-and-long conversions in additional time. However there isn’t a single Tremendous Bowl staff in historical past that didn’t have massive moments when fortune smiled on it. You need to be fortunate and good to win a championship, and these groups match each standards.
Now, they’ll get an opportunity to battle on the sport’s largest stage. Will a brand new dynasty be born? Or will an previous one hold rolling? Will the brand new Biggest Present on Turf avenge the previous one? Or will Belichick draw up one other sensible recreation plan to close down this newest model? Both method, it ought to be a becoming approach to finish one of the crucial entertaining NFL seasons shortly.
FiveThirtyEight vs. the readers
As you put together for the Tremendous Bowl, make sure to take a look at FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions web page, which makes use of our Elo scores to simulate the sport 100,000 occasions, monitoring how probably every staff is to win. You may as well make your Tremendous Bowl decide towards the Elo algorithm in our prediction recreation and make one final bid to climb up our big leaderboard.
Based on knowledge from the sport, right here’s how readers did towards the pc final weekend:
Elo’s smartest convention championship picks
Common distinction between factors gained by readers and by Elo in Week 20 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction recreation
|OUR PREDICTION (ELO)||READERS’ PREDICTION|
|PICK||WIN PROB.||PICK||WIN PROB.||Outcome||READERS’ NET PTS|
|NO||64%||NO||62%||LAR 26, NO 23||-Four.6||
|KC||61||KC||59||NE 37, KC 31||-7.1||
House groups are in daring.
The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ common factors don’t essentially match the variety of factors that might be given to the typical reader prediction.
After a divisional weekend through which all the house groups gained, each residence squads misplaced their convention championship video games for simply the fifth time within the Tremendous Bowl period. Elo tends to like house groups, particularly within the playoffs, so that you may assume that may be dangerous information for its picks. (Certainly, the typical chance set by the reader was nearer to choosing the street staff than Elo’s default chances.) Nevertheless, Elo nonetheless got here out forward on internet factors as a result of extra particular person readers made excessive picks in favor of the Saints and Chiefs, costing the sector factors on common. It’s an instructive instance of one thing we mentioned again in Week 9 — that, due to the nonlinear scoring system in our contest, overly assured picks can actually wreak havoc in your level totals. When unsure, set a conservative chance! (Until, say, you’re in 59th place going into the Tremendous Bowl and wish a Hail Mary to maneuver up the rankings. Know anyone like that?)
Congratulations are with a view to reader Deryl Mundell, who leapfrogged long-standing leaderboard-toppers Neil Mehta and Greg Chili Van Hollebeke to say first place on the season, checking in with 1,202.5 factors. Deryl can also be our No. 1 (recognized) participant on the postseason, with 294.2 factors because the playoffs began. Because of everybody who has been enjoying — and the sport isn’t over but! You now have one final probability to make your Tremendous Bowl decide. Make it rely!
Take a look at our newest NFL predictions.