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Big Game Experience Quantified

It seems Vegas is in love with Packers.  Installing the Steelers as an underdog has to rank as one of the best values in betting history.  While handicapping this Super Bowl a few things stuck out for me.  Football is a game of matchups, no matter how good you look on paper if your team is weak in an area where your opponent is strong you are in trouble.  For example, you wouldn't have thought that Jets could go into Baltimore and beat the Colts.  But it just so happened that the Jets are a great running team and the Colts couldn't stop the run.  Result, Peyton spent the game on the sideline and the Jets controlled the clock and won. 

There are a few matchup problems the Steelers will face.  Our new center vs. BJ Raji jumps to mind.  The Steelers secondary can be hurt by efficient short passing offenses.  I attended the Patriots game in November and watched Tom Brady put up points like he was playing his X Box.

 

 The major statistic that has been under reported is the Packers weakness against the run.  While Pittsburgh boast a league best 3 yards per rush attempt, the Packers come in at 4.7 yards per attempted run.  While 1.7 yards doesn't seem like much consider this, only Buffalo was worse at 4.8.  The reason teams didn't run for more yards per game is that the Packers passing offense forces teams to abandon the run to keep pace.  But what happens when the game stays close and the Packers opponent keeps running all afternoon.  We should look no further than the December 12th game against the 3-10 Lions.  In a game  the  Packers  had  to  win, A-Rodge left the game in the 2nd quarter with a concussion.  Since the Lions were starting a stud named Stanton at QB they ran the ball...a lot.  The lowly Lions won this meaningless (to them) game 7-3 and finished with 190 yards rushing (4.6 yards per attempted rush!)  This loss pushed the Packers season to the brink of irrelevancy.  What kind of playoff team gets run out of the building by the Lions rushing attack?? 

 

If the Steelers run the ball with anywhere near the conviction they showed against the Jets, A-Rodge should spend a lot of the game on the sidelines. 

 

 The next clear advantage the Steelers have is big game, specifically Super Bowl, experience.  I wondered how big an advantage it actually is to be a returning Super Bowl Champion.  For my research I looked for teams that won a Super Bowl and managed to make it back to the Big Dance within 3 seasons (twice in 4 years).  I cut it off at 4 years because so many players change teams and I needed to have a nucleus of player who already had a ring on their finger.    What I found was an amazing 18 teams made it back to the Super Bowl after winning a ring (within 4 years).  Some of these teams did this multiple times like the Cowboys, Patriots and Steelers.  Of the 18 teams that returned to the Super Bowl 13 won again and 5 lost.  73% of of the time the experienced winner wins again.  I know what your thinking, these teams won again because they were incredible teams.  Maybe but most all of the games were very close (score was close).  It seems like confident, less nervous players make more plays.  Remember Ben saying he could not calm down the whole game (in his First SB)?  His calmness in his second SB literally won us the game!

 

So then I thought if players are nervous in their first Super Bowl experience, can I quantify that theory.  What I found amazed me.  I looked at a few Hall of Fame all time QB's and how they played in their First Super Bowl.  Remember we are looking for the advantage the Steelers have over A-Rodge and the Packers.  Do the players with 2 rings have an edge over the guys who has been dreaming of this moment since he was 5?  Take a look at the stat line of these QB studs in their first Super Bowl. 

 

 

Att

Comp

 Comp %

Yards

TDs

Ints

Bradshaw

14

9

64

96

1

0

Staubach

19

12

63

119

2

0

Montana

22

14

63

157

1

0

Aikman

30

22

73

273

4

0

Marino

50

29

58

318

1

2

Brady

27

16

59

145

1

0

Warner

45

24

53

414

2

0

Big Ben

21

9

42

123

0

2

 

These are players we know turned out to be clutch, big time QBs.  Do we know that about Rodgers yet?  Many of these QB’s played with, not against the best Defense in the league.  You can listen to pundits, talking heads or Vegas odds makers but Aaron Rodgers having a big day in Dallas would be a statistical anomaly.  It is worth mentioning that his last big game, the NFC Championship, Rodgers stat line was 17/30 244 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs.  Packers almost lost that game vs a third string QB.  Look for Rodgers state line in the SB to read something like this 18/30 190 yards 1 TD 1-2 INT.  He will be hit often as he will be wary of throwing picks and hold the ball too long.

 

Prediction-

Steelers will control the ball early as the Packers will be nervous and desperate to stop the run. Since the Pack can't run well normally, they will be one dimensional passing on most downs as they fall behind.  Unless Rodgers has a once in lifetime day the Steelers should win rather convincingly.

 

Final score Pitts 27 Pack 17

 

This is my first post, I am Tim Gleason's cousin from Dallas.

 

Go Stillers! 

 



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