Babson College has passed along the following analysis of the New England Patriots’ chances to win Super Bowl LIII from business analytics Prof. Rick Cleary:
What are the chances the Patriots will win the Super Bowl? Your answer to that question depends on what you think is important background information. Here are four different ways to look at the game:
-If you think the Las Vegas odds and betting line are good predictors, then you think that the Patriots have a little better than 50% chance of winning. A 2.5 point favorite wins their NFL game about 55% of the time.
-If you think experience matters, there have been 23 SuperBowls since the AFL/NFL merger in which one team has appeared in at least one Super Bowl in the previous five years (like the Patriots have) and the other team has not (like the Rams this year.) The experienced team has won 14 of those 23 games, or 61%.
-Nervous because the Rams (13-3) had a better regular season record than the Pats (11-5)? In the last 10 Super Bowl there were three in which the teams had the same regular season record. But in the other seven the team with the better regular season record lost five times!
-If you want to give the Rams the edge, can you find some data that supports your pick? Sure! ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) is one of the most sophisticated and time tested models in the business and if gives the Rams a 51% chance of winning.
Some might think that these are examples that “you can prove anything with statistics”, but to those of us study analytics, all of the above are mere suggestions. We look hard at how reliable various predictors are, how large a sample they are based on, and how well the conditions match the current game.
My own bottom line? Any reasonable analysis suggests this is a very close game. Looking at all the models as an “ensemble” we might make the Patriots slight favorites, with their probability of winning just a little over 50%. Of course last year looking at similar evidence I said their probability of winning was 65%. The Eagles had different ideas.