SUPER BOWL BREAKDOWN

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

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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More changes are coming in MLB. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

Ronald Acuña Jr. and Corbin Carroll just got a little more dangerous. Same for Bobby Witt Jr., Elly De La Cruz and the rest of baseball's fastest players.

Major League Baseball wants umpires to crack down on obstruction, and the commissioner's office outlined plans during a call with managers this week. MLB staff also will meet managers in person during spring training to go over enforcement.

The increased emphasis is only on the bases and not at home plate. The focus is on infielders who drop a knee or leg down in front of a bag while receiving a throw, acting as a deterrence for aggressive baserunning and creating an increased risk of injuries.

“I think with everything, they’re trying to make the game a little safer to avoid some unnecessary injuries," Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said Friday at the team's facility in Florida. “The intentions are always good. It comes down to how it affects the players and the games. I’m sure there will be plays where one team doesn’t like it or one team does.”

With more position players arriving at spring training every day, the topic likely will come up more and more as teams ramp up for the season.

“We'll touch on that. We'll show them some video of what’s good and what’s not,” Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You know, it’s going to be a little adjustment.”

Making obstruction a point of emphasis fits in with an ongoing effort by MLB to create more action. Obstruction calls are not reviewable, which could lead to some disgruntled players and managers as enforcement is stepped up, but it also means it won't create long replay deliberations.

A package of rule changes last season — including pitch clocks, bigger bases and limits on defensive shifts and pickoff attempts — had a dramatic effect. There were 3,503 stolen bases in the regular season, up from 2,486 in 2022 and the most since 1987.

MLB changed a different baserunning rule this offseason, widening the runner’s lane approaching first base to include a portion of fair territory. MLB also shortened the pitch clock with runners on base by two seconds to 18 and further reducing mound visits in an effort to speed games.

“Last year, you know, a lot of our preparation was around like, especially just the unknown of the clock and making sure like we’re really buttoned up on that," New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "These guys are so used to it in so many ways that sometimes I even forget.”

Increased enforcement could lead to more action on the basepaths. But a significant element of MLB's motivation is injury prevention.

Top players have hurt hands or wrists on headfirst slides into bases blocked by a fielder. White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. sprained his left wrist when he slid into Jonathan Schoop's lower left leg on a steal attempt during an August 2022 game against Detroit.

“It’s been happening for a while. It’s been getting out of control," Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I know some of the players complained about it the last two years.”

While acknowledging his reputation as a significant offender, Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott didn't sound too worried about his play.

“We like to fight for outs at second base,” he said. "It’s never on purpose, blocking the base. For me, or someone covering second to the shortstop side, it’s a natural move for your knee to go down to reach the ball. It’s never intentional. I guess we’ll figure out how to maneuver around that.”

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