What Stats Truly Drive a Super Bowl Run?

What Stats Truly Drive a Super Bowl Run?

As a lifelong fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, a run to the Super Bowl is something I have never experienced until early 2022. Some might assume that an elite offense is the key. While that certainly doesn’t hurt, there’s a lot more to the story. In my debut article here on TWSN, I’m taking a deep dive into the team stats for the last five Super Bowl winners. Grab your scuba gear and join me. It’s time for an adventure.

2021-22 Los Angeles Rams

This may be a sore subject for my fellow Bengal faithful, but it is a conversation that needs to be had. I haven’t rewatched the Super Bowl and I’m not sure if I ever will. Fortunately for the Rams, what I do with my time doesn’t change the outcome at all.

In the 2021 playoffs, the Rams outscored their four opponents 107-75. This roughly equates to a 27-19 average. But what powered the engine? Well, it certainly wasn’t their running game. They didn’t have a single 60-yard rusher eclipsed the entire postseason (Sony Michel had the highest with 58 in the Wild Card round against Arizona). The offense as a whole averaged just 388 YPG, and Matt Stafford had a five-to-four touchdown/interception rate overall.

Here’s what they did well.

They converted 47% of their 3rd down conversions, an improvement of over three percent from the regular season. The defense forced five turnovers while allowing just 302 YPG, which is EASILY the fewest among the past five.

The Rams defense also allowed their opponents to convert just 9 of 46 3rd down attempts in the postseason (under 20%!!!). That was less than half of the 41% they allowed in the regular season, and just a ridiculous number.

Another key stat was that the Rams committed penalties by an average of just 28 yards per game. That was even more impressive considering they were number two in the NFL with just 37 YPG penalties in the regular season (Bengals were number one…had to beat that one there).

Overall, this was a team that was unimpressive offensively, but disciplined on both sides of the ball, especially on 3rd down. Despite a minus-two turnover margin in the playoffs, the Rams made sure not to beat themselves.

2020-21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Many thought Tom Brady would ride off into the sunset after his 7th Super Bowl win in early 2021. Well, he did, but then he didn’t. You all know the story by now. Brady can play until he’s 100 years old. Let’s take a look at what Tampa Bay did well in their first postseason run with Brady under center.

They outscored opponents 123-78 in four games. Perhaps even more impressive, they scored between 30 and 31 points in all four games. Unlike the Rams next season, the offense was a big factor for the Bucs.

Tampa Bay always looked capable of forcing a turnover on that drive, with seven interceptions and two fumble recoveries. This was very fortunate for them, as the team outscored opponents by an average of 389-369.

They allowed just six touchdown passes in four games, which was all the more impressive considering their opponents included Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes (sorry Carson Wentz).

This team did NOT do a good job on third down defensively, allowing a pathetic 46% conversion rate (24-52). However, they found a way to limit penalties with just 16 total penalties for 133 yards in the postseason (33 YPG).

This team was the true definition of “bend but don’t break” in the 2020-21 playoff run. They made the plays they needed to make when they needed to make them. It’s that simple. It also didn’t hurt to have Tom Brady under center, but I digress.

2019-20 Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes found himself on top of the NFL world with one of the most impressive postseason runs we’ve ever seen. Kansas City averaged 39 PPG, scoring 51, 35 and 31 points in three games.

Defense was rarely this team’s strength, but if you’re scoring nearly 40 PPG, should it be? They averaged 388 YPG and allowed nearly five YPC to opposing teams. They had an even turnover ratio, so that didn’t give them an advantage.

So what did he do? Well, aside from the obvious that is Patrick Mahomes, a few things went right for Kansas City.

Once again, they limited the sentences. The team committed only 40 penalties worth YPG, with only four of them resulting in a first down for their opponent. If you can’t make consistent stops, it goes a long way in not giving away free passes to the other team.

This may or may not be unexpected. The Chiefs allowed their opponents to convert just one-third of their 3rd down attempts (11-33). Like Tampa Bay the following season, they made stops when absolutely necessary.

2018-19 New England Patriots

Hello again, Tom Brady. His last Super Bowl win for New England was an extended celebration, but style points get you *check notes*…zero points on the scoreboard. The Patriots scored over 30 PPG in three games during this stretch. Brady makes it, right? You might be surprised to hear that the GOAT himself only had two touchdown passes in the 2018-19 playoffs (he actually had more interceptions than touchdowns…).

New England was dominant on the ground, rushing for 162 yards per contest. They also dominated when they needed a conversion on offense, with a 51% success rate on third down. The offense averaged 479 yards per game, which was easily the most of any team highlighted in this article.

Their opponents rushed for an average of just 41 yards per game during their playoff run. This is not a typo. They also outgained their foes by an average of 153 yards per contest. This team was simply dominant on both sides of the ball. The only reason they had any competition during their run was Patrick Mahomes’ ridiculous 24-point fourth quarter in the AFC Championship game. New England won in overtime, and the rest is history.

Now let’s talk about 3rd downs again. The Patriots allowed just a 34% conversion rate to their opponents (12-35). They actually commit the most penalty yards per game of any of these five highlighted teams with 52 per contest.

This was a true team effort, but what is most representative of the Patriots as a franchise? The dynasty is over now, but the run this team had during the Brady era was perhaps the greatest we will ever see in sports.

2017-18 Philadelphia Eagles

Another Super Bowl with Tom Brady in it. Shocking. Well, that didn’t end the way the Patriot faithful had hoped. The Eagles offense was an absolute machine in these playoffs. They scored over 30 PPG and converted 60, yes Sixty percent of their third down conversions on offense (26-43). Not only that, but they were a perfect 3-3 in the fourth position.

Nick Foles was as good in the 2017-18 playoffs as any quarterback has ever been in a playoff run. You do not believe me? Check this out.

Through three games, Foles averaged 319 passing yards per game, 9.1 YPA, had a seven-to-one punt/interception rate and took just two sacks. Very good, isn’t it?

Apart from an otherworldly performance from star Napoleon Dynamite, the Eagles had been going very well. They held their opponents to just a 42% conversion rate on third down, which is second-worst among these teams. However, they did well in limiting penalties to just 38 YPG.

Another key stat was that they allowed just two of six 4th down conversions. Creating four more possessions via turnovers on downs was huge for the Eagles’ success here.

In closing, I hope I have been able to provide a glimpse of what has fueled success among recent Super Bowl winners. Points and laps are great. Everyone loves a shootout. All signs point to discipline and key stops on 3rd and 4th down being critical to success in a postseason run. I really hope you all enjoyed my debut piece here on TWSN and I’m so excited to continue sharing my thoughts with you along with the rest of the team!

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