February 01, 2018

Jimmy Kempski's Super Bowl LII pick

Eagles NFL
USATSI_10579241.jpg Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Tick ... tick ... tick ... tick ...

Yes, Tom Brady is still the quarterback of the New England Patriots. Yes, Bill Belichick is still the head coach. Yes, Rob Gronkowski is still a behemoth to have to deal with (assuming he makes it through the concussion protocol in time for Sunday). And yes, the Pats, like the Eagles, are 15-3.

Still, this is a flawed team, and not as good as many of the Patriots teams of the Tom Brady era. Out of curiosity, I took a look back at FootballOutsiders.com's DVOA ratings going all the way back to 2001, the beginning of the Brady era, omitting 2008, the season Brady was lost for the season with an injury.

To note, the short, short version of DVOA: "DVOA measures a team's efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent." The higher the number, overall, on offense, and on special teams, the better. The lower the number on defense, the better. Got it? OK, good. Here's what I found:

Patriots DVOA 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
DVOA -1.4 15.7 20.6 35.6 4.4
Offensive DVOA -8.7 7.2 -0.2 26.3 15.2
Defensive DVOA -3.4 -1.6 -20 -9.1 12.9
Special teams DVOA 3.9 6.9 0.9 0.2 2

Patriots DVOA 2006 2007 2009 2010 2011
DVOA 23.3 51.8 28.3 44.7 22.5
Offensive DVOA 12.2 42.8 29.7 46.1 36.8
Defensive DVOA -8.4 -6.1 2.6 5.5 17.9
Special teams DVOA 2.6 2.9 1.2 4.1 3.7

Patriots DVOA 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
DVOA 34.9 19 22.4 22.6 25.3
Offensive DVOA 30.8 15.9 13.6 15.4 21.1
Defensive DVOA 1.3 -5.9 -3.4 -3.4 -1.5
Special teams DVOA 5.5 6.7 5.5 3.9 2.7

The Patriots' DVOA in 2017 is here, ranked in comparison to the 16 seasons of the Brady era.

 2017 PatriotsDVOA Rank 
 DVOA22.6 T-8 
 Offensive DVOA27.3 
 Defensive DVOA10.9 14 
 Special teams DVOA6.3 


Translation: According to DVOA, it's the eighth- or ninth-best Patriots team in the Brady era. The offense compares favorably but is not the super-elite unit that it was in other years. 

On the other side of the ball, this is one of the worst Pats defenses in the Brady era, and we believe that the Eagles' offense matches up very favorably in some key areas:

  1. The Pats struggle to stop the run, and the Eagles run the ball very well.
  2. The Eagles should have a significant advantage against slot corner Eric Rowe, who is playing out of position.
  3. Patrick Chung has been a good player this season, but he's giving up seven inches on Zach Ertz. None of the Pats' linebackers can cover Ertz.
  4. The Eagles have faced far more dangerous pass rushing units than what the Patriots have, and have still provided excellent protection for their quarterbacks.

The Patriots' 5.5-point spread in their favor is more about their mystique than their current talent. This Eagles team is better, I think they know it, and they're not intimidated in the slightest. They're better in the trenches, they're far better on defense, and these two offenses, on the whole, really aren't that far apart.

The Eagles are going to win this game, fly home, and ride down Broad Street. Plan accordingly.

Eagles 29, Patriots 24.


• Picks against the spread: Eagles (+5.5).

• Eagles picks: 14-4
• 2017 season, straight up: 180-86 (0.677)
• 2017 season, ATS: 35-32-2 (0.522)
• 2016 season, straight up: 171-94-2 (0.644)
• 2016 season, ATS:  41-34 (0.547)
• 2015 season, straight up: 163-93 (0.637)
• 2015 season, ATS: 46-30-2 (0.605)


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