Patriots offensive success dwarfs Giants
Brian Burke, of the NFL Stats Blog, notes today that the more possessions each team has in a game, the more likely the favorite will beat the underdog. That makes sense, of course, and for the same reason that the Royals may have a 30% chance of beating the Yankees in one game, but roughly a 0% chance of beating them in 162 games.
Burke's simulation shows that, with 9 possessions per team, the Patriots have a 71.4% chance of beating the Giants. But with 13 possessions per team, their winning percentage rises to 76.5%.
That is: the Giants can improve their chances of winning by almost 25% if they try to play really, really, slow. (Of course, they can improve their chances even more by scoring lots of points, and preventing the Patriots from scoring.)
Anyway, as I wrote, this isn't really all that surprising. But what IS surprising – at least to me – is how much better the Patriots are per possession:
The Patriots scored a touchdown on 42% of their possessions
The NYGiants scored a touchdown on 21% of their possessions
The Patriots were *100%* better at scoring touchdowns than what is presumably the second-best team in the NFL!
On defense, they were only 10% better at *preventing* touchdowns. I wonder what that means ... does it mean the Patriots have a better offense than defense? Is the Giants defense especially good (assuming 90% as good as the Patriots must be exceptional)? Or does it mean that, in general, defenses in the NFL vary a lot less than offenses do?
Geez ... twice times as successful on offense. That doesn't include field goals, but still ...