Lying Numbers of Super Bowl LI

Be honest, friends.  At least some of you are here because you clicked on the article asking “What on Earth is the Count from Sesame Street doing on an NFL article?”  Well for those that haven’t seen NGSC Sports YouTube Series, Sports Symposium, you might recognize that we used the beloved noble of numbers to indicate a situation where I, The Student of the Game, am calling out an instance where statistics are about to lie.  Below are a pair of falsehoods that stand out here.  I’m sure I’m about to cheese some fans off, and if I do make that happen, I’m inclined to remind any would-be ticked Patriots and Falcon fans that your teams are in Super Bowl LI while I couldn’t even get credentials to the flipping Pro Bowl.

Matt Ryan should be the MVP

OK Atlanta fans, tell me if I’m wrong (@TheSoTG on Twitter). Whenever you talk about your team, you open talking about how great Julio Jones is, how they improved the wide receiver corps, and then you talk about how the quarterback, Matt Ryan, is able to get the ball to them much better since he’s better protected. . . And that would be a fine assessment.  Not factually inaccurate or biased toward the historical prowess of this Dirty Bird squad.

Sep 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles int he second quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

But lo to the wretched bastard that implied this offense is one dimensional.  The same Falcon follower would retaliate with proverbial guns blazing that Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are the greatest things since indoor plumbing and the conclude their rant with and an afterthought about Vic Beasley and their defense’s team speed.  And yet, again, the preaching fan would not just be talking crap. And also, in that same breath, they send the Matt Ryan MVP argument down the drain.  Sure, the numbers say that the Falcons are among the top scoring teams of all time with 33.8 per game — that’s a powerful number (tied for seventh all-time with the 2000 Rams better known as “The Greatest Show on Turf”).

But then, I submit Derek Carr of the Oakland/soon-to-be-Las Vegas Raiders.  Carr drove through the season winning in the AFC west, the best division in the League.  Carr won more games without a prolific run game. Moreover, while Amari Cooper is both good wide receivers, they are not Julio Jones.  DC4 had as many wins in fewer total games and his only sin was getting injured in week 16.  And what happened when he disappeared due to injury?  The Raiders dropped from the second seed to the fifth and were unceremoniously eliminated by Brock Osweiler and the hapless Houston Texans.  If the Falcons’ success proves Ryan’s value to the roster, the Raiders’ collapse certainly does the same for Carr, with all due respect to my fellow NGSC Sports contributor Gee Steelio (@GeeSteelio on Twitter).

The Patriots Have the Best Defense in the League.

Before I get into the lies of the numbers in this statement, I do like the premise it’s based upon in theory.  Too often is yardage used as a gauge in a unit’s productivity. Be it yards allowed for defenses and yards gained for offenses, the team with the most points is the one that wins the game week in and week out.

I know that seems more obvious that it’s something that belongs in a commercial with Captain Obvious, but that mistake is oft made none the less.

But here’s the thing…  How does a defense with such a mediocre roster pile up an inordinate amount of shutouts and shut down opponents allowing only 15.6 points per game? For this team, there are two main reasons.

For one, the offense is prolific.  Whether it’s Tom Brady under center, the backup Jimmy Garopolo, or the backup’s backup, Jacoby Brissett, the offense usually produced save one outlier game in Buffalo.  Because of that, the defense doesn’t spend a lot of time on the field compared to other units as the Pats’ defense spent only 998 snaps on the field, nineth lowest overall in the league.

In addition to that, the Patriots’ have had a simple road up to the Conference Championship.  It’s confusing considering Brady has openly supported Republican candidates who are notoriously critical of entitlement programs. And even with that being true, if New England’s path isn’t an entitlement program, I certainly don’t know what is.  Silliness aside, the New England Patriots have beaten Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, and Ben Roethlisberger on Conference Championship Sunday.  4 Super Bowl appearances among them (three of them linked to Big Ben).  Here’s the rest of the immortal juggernauts of passing prowess they faced as field generals. . .


  • Ryan Tannehill
  • Brock Osweiler (as a starter and Tom Savage’s backup in the playoffs)
  • Tyrod Taylor (Twice)
  • Charlie Whitehurst
  • Andy Dalton
  • Landry Jones
  • Colin Kaepernick
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (Twice)
  • Jared Goff
  • Trevor Siemian
  • Matt Moore

So while this enabled them to allow the fewest points, don’t talk to me about the New England defense being the great and powerful when all you had to do was follow this yellow brick road to get there.

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