Super Bowl Statistical Preview - Part 3: Game by Game Analysis and Trends

In Part 1 of my Super Bowl Preview, we looked at how the Colts and Saints fared against Common Opponents, and in Part 2 we looked at the 2009 Winning Stats for each team, and which ones will be key to winning.  Finally, in Part 3, we'll look how each team game-by-game this season, look at how consistent each team has been this year, and some trends for the Saints Offense, which don't paint a good picture for our friends from New Orleans.  Oh yeah, you'll get my prediction too.

Before we get to what I found, I'd like to link a couple things I won't be covering, but others have already:

  • DZ over at 18to88 looked at how each team played on grass this season.  His conclusion?
    The bottom line is that unless the field is wet or poorly tended, I don't think the grass/turf factor will hurt either team.
  • A lot has been made the past 2 weeks about Peyton Manning vs. Gregg Williams.  Luckily for us, DZ (again!) crunched the numbers, as well as Paul Kuharsky over at ESPN.  DZ thinks the Colts are in very good shape, and Paul thinks that Williams better have 3 completely different plans ready to go, so when Manning figures him out, he can change on the fly.  Good luck to you Mr. Williams.
  • Football Outsiders gave some great insights into the Super Bowl in their preview.  The most interesting, and one they completely convinced me of, is this:
    Most teams leave their starting cornerbacks on specific sides of the field rather than moving them around so the better corner is covering the other team's top receiver, and the Saints are no different. Jabari Greer is generally playing on the left side, which is the offensive right. Offenses generally move receivers from side to side more than defenses move cornerbacks, but this is yet another way in which the Colts rarely vary their offensive game plan. 77 percent of passes to Wayne this season found him on the left side of the field. 86 percent of passes to Garcon found him on the right side. Unless somebody moves around on purpose, the Saints are going to end up with Greer on Garcon for most of the game. We're likely going to see coverage similar to the NFC Divisional Round game against Arizona, when Greer was often one-on-one against Steve Breaston while Tracy Porter and a safety (usually Roman Harper) doubled Larry Fitzgerald on the other side
    Greer on Garçon, and doubling Reggie Wayne is a very real possibility, and we should expect it.  That means big days for Dallas Clark and Austin Collie.  I don't think Manning cares who it is though.  He'll just find the open guy.

All right, follow me after the jump for my final analysis of the game...

First, I'll show the Game-by-Game rankings for the Colts from this season (click on headers to sort):

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Jaguars 104 225 117 205 183 158
2 Dolphins 111 477 323 90 479 281
3 Cardinals 160 99 78 148 90 69
4 Seahawks 17 309 96 25 440 170
5 Titans 58 47 24 89 48 31
7 Rams 16 81 19 60 164 64
8 49ers 253 118 132 134 256 149
9 Texans 159 293 191 150 220 143
10 Patriots 246 328 315 218 167 161
11 Ravens 138 335 208 59 347 146
12 Texans 86 393 211 84 369 181
13 Titans 24 389 163 47 432 202
14 Broncos 301 218 258 249 259 243
15 Jaguars 31 493 261 100 490 306
16 Jets 106 176 89 21 231 63
17 Bills 182 204 148 142 294 185
19 Ravens 269 71 108 167 49 58
20 Jets 70 300 140 16 380 114

And for the Saints (click on headers to sort):

Saints Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Lions 50 60 25 103 124 66
2 Eagles 95 231 115 54 218 83
3 Bills 229 36 62 183 95 89
4 Jets 235 26 57 75 32 13
6 Giants 15 213 59 22 130 34
7 Dolphins 342 100 177 338 52 139
8 Falcons 145 222 134 186 104 98
9 Panthers 192 315 235 130 362 227
10 Rams 168 407 310 275 507 447
11 Buccaneers 46 55 23 68 119 52
12 Patriots 71 228 100 50 72 28
13 Redskins 149 471 343 169 491 364
14 Falcons 14 451 175 14 377 111
15 Cowboys 260 511 445 214 465 388
16 Buccaneers 52 431 223 67 502 279
17 Panthers 492 134 371 458 137 351
19 Cardinals 5 111 20 5 89 8
20 Vikings 367 360 416 315 273 308

A couple thoughts:

  • The Colts, for the most part, didn't completely dominate many games (except for the Titans), but never played terrible either, with the worst being the Jaguars game in Week 15, which some starters didn't play, and it was on a short week.  Understandable.
  • The Saints, on the other hand, took their first 5 teams to the woodshed, along with the Patriots, and the Cardinals in the playoffs.  Along with that, though, they've played 5 games worse than the Colts worst game, all since Week 10.  The question is, which Saints team will show up on Sunday?

To go along with the game by game rankings, you'll see just how consistent each team has been:

Team Offense Defense Total
Colts 2 9 1
Saints 14 28 23

The Colts have been the most consistent team all season Overall, and only the 49ers were more consistent on Offense (hey, it doesn't measure being consistently good), and the Defense hasn't been terribly inconsistent either.  The Saints, on the other hand, are slightly above average on Offense, and extremely inconsistent on Defense, ranking 23rd overall.  This is why I, at the very least, trust the Colts to play their game, get their points, and force the Saints to beat them.  Can the Saints do it?  Of course, they've shown they can do it earlier this season.

The last thing I want to look at, which came to be later this week, was how Drew Brees and the Saints Offense matches up with the Colts Defense.  Much has been made about the flip side, and I've tried to give "the flip side" its proper due, as it will be just as important as when Manning is on the field.

The Colts Defense, as you all know, plays a 4-3, Tampa/Cover-2 scheme.  There are several other teams that play a very similar scheme:  Bears, Bills, Buccaneers, Lions, Titans, and Vikings.  I went back over the past 4 seasons to see how well Brees and the Saints have done offensively against these Defenses:

Opponent Year Score Week Rank Pct
Buccaneers 2006 24-21 5 316 38.3%
Buccaneers 2006 31-14 9 78 84.8%
Bears 2006 14-39 20 282 44.9%
Colts 2007 10-41 1 411 19.7%
Buccaneers 2007 14-31 2 171 66.6%
Titans 2007 14-31 3 283 44.7%
Buccaneers 2007 23-27 13 197 61.5%
Bears 2007 25-33 17 295 42.4%
Buccaneers 2008 24-20 1 171 66.6%
Vikings 2008 27-30 5 196 61.7%
Buccaneers 2008 20-23 13 330 35.5%
Bears 2008 24-27 15 210 59.0%
Lions 2008 42-7 16 9 98.2%
Lions 2009 45-27 1 103 80.6%
Bills 2009 27-7 3 183 65.6%
Buccaneers 2009 17-20 16 67 87.4%
Vikings 2009 31-28 20 315 40.8%
Average 25-24 212.8 58.7%

Keep in mind, according to the Winning Stats, the Saints have been ranked Offensively 3rd, 4th, 3rd, and 4th, over the past 4 seasons, so they've been quite good overall Offensively.  But look what happens when they face these defensives:  Average rank of 213, which is around the 59% mark.  This also includes 2 games against the Lions of '08 and '09, who were awesome for the past 2 years.

Want to know what it is for all other games the Saints have played since 2006?  Average rank of 144, which is around 72%, a noticeable uptick.  Also, check out the one game he played against the Colts, which is the worst of this list, which isn't that pretty.  After seeing these numbers, I'm feeling slightly more confident, especially after how they performed just 2 weeks ago against the same type of defense.

I've now given you more than enough data, stats, and information to make an "educated guess" on the Super Bowl.  So what is my prediction?  I'll let AWESOME-O tell you:

Wait, I mean I'm going to let the crowd's reaction to AWESOME-O tell you my prediction, and that's chuckle at the notion that the Saints will win the Super Bowl. (I've waited 2 weeks to use this, and am really glad nobody spoiled it for me.)

In all seriousness, I see the Colts jumping out to an early lead, as the Saints have given up 106 points in the First Quarter this season, 2nd worst in the league behind the Buccaneers (108).  The Cardinals scored in 1 play, and the Vikings had 2 long TD drives to start the game.  I also see the Colts getting no less than 3 points in the final 2 minutes of the first half, even if the Saints score in the same time frame.  Manning is unstoppable inside of 2 minutes.

The Second Half will be few, longer drives, eventually leading to a 4 point Colts lead, with about 8 minutes to go in the game, starting a drive inside their own 20.  Then, Manning has one of those back-breaking, methodical, 6:30 minute drives, capped off by a TD pass to Reggie Wayne, putting the Colts up 11 with under 2 minutes to go.  The Colts had made the drive time after time this season, and I see nothing that changes that on Sunday.

Final Score: Colts 31, Saints 23.  MVP: #18, with a major assist from Gary Brackett.  The dude is awesome, and he'll show it by shutting down the dump-offs and seam passes over the middle.

Last time around, the Super Bowl felt a little anti-climatic, as the win over the Patriots was so emotionally draining, it didn't matter as much then if the Colts beat the Bears.  This feeling is completely different.  I'll be extremely disappointed if the Colts don't win on Sunday, as I feel they are the superior team.  Just that fact doesn't mean they will, but I'm feeling as confident as I have these past 2 weeks.  Bring the trophy back to Indiana.

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