As somebody who saw his first San Francisco 49ers game at Kezar Stadium, I count myself among the 49er Faithful. Heck, I even went to games when Joe Thomas was general manager and the team was losing regularly with a revolving door of forgettable coaches.
But being a fan doesn’t make me blind to the realities of a particular matchup, and that includes Sunday’s game with the Seahawks in Seattle. Certainly, the 49ers haven’t fared well in their last two games there, losing twice by a combined score of 71-16. Seattle is also the toughest road site in the NFL.
But there are also other numbers that tell me Seattle will win the game. The two best statistical predictors of who will win an NFL game are average yards per pass (YPP) and turnover ratio, so I looked at where the eight remaining teams stood before last week’s games.
I ranked the teams one through eight in both categories and then totaled the rankings of each. A low number is good, a high number is bad.
Seattle came out on top with a score of four–the Seahawks are No. 1 in turnover ratio and No. 3 in YPP. New Orleans had a total of 11, which explains why Seattle won the game.
Denver had the best total among remaining AFC teams, with a seven to San Diego’s eight. (Indianapolis and New England tied at nine each, and San Francisco and Carolina tied at eight each.)
Are these stats totally predictive? Of course not; nothing is when you’re trying to predict what people will do. But I prefer to rely on meaningful statistics than blind faith, and the numbers say Seattle and Denver will make it to the Super Bowl.
I’ll be rooting for a different outcome, but I don’t expect it.