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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Houston's winning streak is up to nine

Astros secure series over Orioles as winning streak continues

Zack Greinke provided another long outing for his team on Tuesday. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

After continuing their recent dominance with a lopsided win over this Orioles team on Monday in the rain-plagued opener, the Astros eyed number nine in a row if they could do it again on Tuesday. Though not as one-sided, the Astros would get the victory to secure the series win.

Final Score: Astros 3, Orioles 1

Astros' Record: 45-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (8-2)

Losing Pitcher: Jorge Lopez (2-9)

A tame start for Houston's offense

After a scoreless first inning on both sides, Myles Straw started the scoring with two outs in the top of the second, sneaking a ball off and over the left-field wall just out of the grasp of Austin Hays for a solo homer to put Houston ahead 1-0. After Baltimore tied the game in the third, the game remained gridlocked 1-1 until the top of the seventh, when Chase McCormick would reach on a one-out infield single then raced around to score on a Myles Straw RBI single, putting Houston back in front 2-1.

Greinke pitches into the eighth

Over that span, Zack Greinke was getting efficient innings against Baltimore's lineup. He allowed that trying run in the third, which came after a one-out walk moved to third on a single, then scored on a sac fly. That was one of his few moments with runners in scoring position, as he erased a single in the first, a single in the fourth, and a double in the seventh to maintain the new 2-1 lead.

The Astros loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the eighth but came away with only one run of insurance on a McCormick sac fly, making it 3-1 as Greinke returned to the mound to continue working. He allowed a leadoff single then retired the next batter before Dusty Baker would come out to get him as the left-handed portion of the lineup was due up and a better match for Brooks Raley, who had been warming. Greinke's final line: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 91 P.

Astros make it nine in a row

Raley completed the eighth for Greinke with two strikeouts to strand the inherited runner. With it still a two-run game in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered for the save. He erased a two-out single to finish things off, giving Houston their ninth win in a row and securing the series with a chance at the sweep in the finale.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set will be another 6:05 PM Central start time on Wednesday. Thomas Eshelman (0-0, 1.93 ERA) will be on the mound for Baltimore to face the Astros, while Jose Urquidy (5-3, 3.65 ERA) will start for Houston.

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