SUPER BOWL BREAKDOWN

Barry Laminack: A statistical look at the Patriots-Eagles matchup

Nick Foles and the Eagles match up well with the Patriots. Philadelphiaeagles.com

It's Super Bowl week!

I'm a stats dork at heart (I think oftentimes they can tell us what to expect, if we are looking at the right ones) so I'm going to break down the Eagles and Patriots statistically based on what I think are the most important stats to consider when evaluating the two teams.

I'm not going to bore you with a bunch of stats you've never heard of because, while I might personally dig that kind of thing, I don't think you have to complicate things to compare the teams for an expected outcome.

When you compare the two teams regular season's it's uncanny how similar of a year they had both offensively and defensively. Of course, you have to keep in mind that the Eagles amassed most of their offensive stats when Carson Wentz was at the helm, but I threw in some postseason/post-Wentz stats as well.

OK, Lets get after it.

OFFENSE

When it comes to offensive statistics the only two stats I really care about are points per game and turnovers. The rest of it, in my opinion, is noise.

It's crazy but when comparing the two teams, they actually averaged the exact same amount of points per game in the regular season, 28.6. The only team to average more per game was the L.A. Rams, who averaged 29.9 a game.

Postseason scoring tells a different story, however. The Patriots put up 35 against the Titans and 24 against a stingy Jaguars defense. The Eagles only managed 15 against the Falcons before surprising everyone and scoring 31 offensive points (plus 7 more on an interception return) against the stingiest defense in the regular season, the Minnesota Vikings.

As far as turning the ball over, the Patriots did a much better job of taking care of the football during the regular season only giving it up 12 times, the second best in the NFL. The Eagles were 11th with 20 turnovers, nine in the air, 11 via fumble.


Here’s a chart comparing the two teams key offensive stats during the regular season:

 

Points/Game – (rank)

Giveaways (Int/Fum) – (rank)

Eagles

28.6 – (2nd)

20 (9/11) – (11th)

Patriots

28.6 – (2nd)

12 (8/4) – (2nd)

DEFENSE

On defense I like to look at three key stats that, in my opinion, have a direct impact on the games outcome: points allowed, sacks, and takeaways.

Much like on offense, it's crazy how close both of these defenses are when it comes to points allowed and sacks during the regular season. Philly gave up 18.4 points a game and the Patriots allowed 18.5. The Eagles also bested the Patriots by only 1 when it came to getting after the quarterback, piling up 36 sacks to the Patriots 35.

The separator between these two defenses is forcing turnovers. Philly was much better at taking the ball away - forcing 19 interceptions and 12 fumbles, ranking fourth in the NFL with 31 total takeaways. The Patriots recovered just six fumbles all year. Combine that with their 12 interceptions and their defense was one of the worst in the NFL at taking the ball away (25th)

Here's a chart comparing the two teams key defensive stats during the regular season:

 

Def Pts/G

Sacks

       Takeaways (Int/Fum) – (rank)

Eagles

18.4 (4th)                         

36 (17th)

        31 (19/12) – (4th)

Patriots

18.5 (5th)

35 (18th)

        18 (12/6) – (25th)


IN SUMMARY

As you can see, the two teams are pretty similar in offensive and defensive points per game. The separation really occurs in the turnover department. The Patriots strength was taking care of the ball, while Philly did a much better job of forcing turnovers.

And while it might seem cliche' - and since the teams are so similar to each other in just about every other key stat - look for the game to come down to who takes care of ball.

I like New England to win 24-21.

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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