News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Super Bowl prediction: Chiefs Beat Buccaneers, 31-27

We have a great, friendly community here in Sisters and Central Oregon — even when our favorite teams are pitted against each other in the stupendous, annual Super Bowl. Here’s a real-life example.

On a beautiful, sunny, bluebird-sky March day last year, I jumped aboard a chair at Hoodoo Ski Area with a complete stranger. We instantly started chatting and I learned he lived in Sisters too.

Our expected skiing-dialog shifted to the previous month’s Super Bowl game, the Kansas City Chiefs against the San Francisco 49ers. I mentioned that I wrote an article in The Nugget about the game, picking the Chiefs over the 49ers, 32 to 28.

With that, this nice guy suddenly said — with a chuckle and a smile — “I don’t think I like you!”

My befuddled facial gesture then prompted him to say, “Yeah, I saw your article in The Nugget. I was raised in San Francisco, having 49ers’ season passes for many years. I’m a huge ’Niners fan! Of course, I was pulling for the 49ers.”

He said in good spirits and with a wink, “You were right in your prediction, but I still think the deserving team lost. By the way, I was kidding about not liking you. You’re okay. We’ll see about next year’s season, eh?”

We skied off on our separate ways; having some fun jawboning on our ride up.

This wacky year of 256 National Football League (NFL) regular-season games and 12 postseason games are complete. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) are taking on the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) in the Super Bowl.

As of January 31, the Chiefs are favored by about 3 to 3.5 points, a field goal.

Super Bowl host, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have improved greatly since 2013 (averaging only 18 points per game). Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, was added this season. The Bucs’ points/game was almost 31 points per game — the same average in their three playoff games. Their arsenal of receivers is diverse. Young, formative running backs Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette have speed and brute force.

The powerhouse Chiefs were very strong and consistent in 2020-2021. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ numbers are extremely solid; bringing 14 wins when he played. Mahomes ability to run — and fake running — is a potent, constant threat. Explosive receivers like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are favorite targets. Coach Andy Reid’s football ken and decision-making are legendary.

In prior Nugget articles, the historical points scored/games is the base for my predictions. The theory is that proven, long-time processes will reliably forecast outcomes. That is, the law of averages — using averages (mean) and standard deviations.

In Chart 1, the Chiefs’ 2020-2021 regular season averaged 29.6 points per game, with a standard deviation of 6.7. The last game, resulting in a loss, did not have Patrick Mahomes playing. In game 12 on November 28, the Chiefs beat the hosting Bucs, 27–24.

In the regular season, the Chiefs scored a minimum of 17 points in all games. Excluding the last game, they won 13 of 14 games when scoring at least 22 points. In their two playoff games, they averaged 20.5 points/game. Down, but not alarming.

The Buccaneers’ 2020 season average was 30.8 average with a standard deviation of 11.8 points (Chart 2). While the Bucs had a slightly higher points/game average than the Chiefs, they had more variation. When they scored 25-plus points, they won 100 percent of the time. Twenty-four (24) or less, they lose 100% of the time. Therefore, getting to the 24-point mark is crucial.

Regarding their defenses, the Bucs allowed 355 points (22.8 points/game); with the Chiefs giving up 362 points (22.6 points/game) during the regular season. Their defenses were respectively No. 8 and No. 10 in the NFL — virtually equal.

What is determining the game’s outcome? Largely, the quarterback position and offense.

Over the season, Mahomes’ overall completion rating is higher than Brady’s. Also, the quarterback rating. Being a fleet, cunning runner, Mahomes always has the defense on edge. This enables a wider range of plays and corresponding options.

Since leading the Chiefs beginning in 2018, this young maestro has won 38 of 45 games played — a winning percentage of 84 percent! Tom Brady’s illustrious 19 playing seasons post a 77 percent win percentage.

With the crunching of all of these numbers, it is expected that the game should be close and entertaining. The old guard, Brady, versus the extremely-talented newcomer, Mahomes. All of us certainly hope it meets the hype.


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