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Numbers won't help to predict Super Bowl

By By Josh Taylor / staff writer
Aug. 3, 2003
About this time of year sports fans like to make their picks on who will win the Super Bowl. Yes, I realize it's only August. There is, however, a reason people make these picks so early.
Right now everyone has a perfect record and every team in the NFL has a shot at the title.
My pick for the winner of the 2004 Super Bowl will probably be about as accurate as that of my nine-year-old son. My wife likes to pick based on how good looking the head coach is.
I would like to say that this is the Saints year to win the big one, but that's kind of like saying it's the Red Sox' year to win the World Series.
So, instead of making a wild pick, I have decided to look at some numbers from last season.
Analysts always say that a team has to run the football to win games in the NFL. Last season the league's leading rusher was none other than … drum roll please … Miami's Ricky Williams with a grand total of 1,853 yards. But, the Dolphins finished third in the AFC East, a division that the Jets won. Williams was followed by San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson and Kansas City's Priest Holmes. These two teams finished third and fourth in the AFC West, respectively.
So if the running backs are not the deciding factor, how about receivers? The league's leading receiver last season was Indianapolis' Marvin Harrison with 1,722 yards. Harrison is a phenomenal receiver, but the Colts finished second in the AFC South behind Tennessee. Harrison was followed by the Vikings' Randy Moss and the Giants' Amani Toomer, both of which finished second in their divisions.
So far the Raiders and Buccaneers (last year's Super Bowl combatants) haven't shown up on either of these lists.
What about the quarterbacks? Last season's top quarterback was Oakland's Rich Gannon with 4,689 yards of total offense. Have we finally found the answer? Are quarterbacks the key to winning in the NFL?
Well Gannon did make it to the Super Bowl, but the number two quarterback last season was Buffalo's Drew Bledsoe followed by the Colts' Payton Manning. Buffalo finished dead last in the AFC East while we already mentioned the Colts.
Oakland is an interesting team to look at. They had the number one quarterback, but they also led the league in fumbles. They led in time of possession, but also led in penalties.
What does all this mean? I don't have a clue.
Let's take a look at Tampa Bay, the defending Super Bowl champs. The Bucs did win the NFC South last season on the way to picking up those prized Super Bowl rings. They had the number one defense in the league, but their offense came in 11th out of 16 teams in the NFC.
Can you guess who had the best offense in the NFC last year? Did you say Minnesota? I didn't think so.
So maybe defense is the key. I have often heard that offense wins games, but defense wins championships. If this were true, the AFC's best defense, The Dolphins, would have met the Bucs in the Super Bowl. They didn't. The Dolphins came in third in the AFC East.
After two days of looking over all these statistics I have come up with one hard fact: nobody knows who will win the 2004 Super Bowl. That's why they play a 16-game season.
With all that said, I'm picking the Saints! About this time of year sports fans like to make their picks on who will win the Super Bowl. Yes, I realize it's only August. There is, however, a reason people make these picks so early.
Right now everyone has a perfect record and every team in the NFL has a shot at the title.
My pick for the winner of the 2004 Super Bowl will probably be about as accurate as that of my nine-year-old son. My wife likes to pick based on how good looking the head coach is.
I would like to say that this is the Saints year to win the big one, but that's kind of like saying it's the Red Sox' year to win the World Series.
So, instead of making a wild pick, I have decided to look at some numbers from last season.
Analysts always say that a team has to run the football to win games in the NFL. Last season the league's leading rusher was none other than … drum roll please … Miami's Ricky Williams with a grand total of 1,853 yards. But, the Dolphins finished third in the AFC East, a division that the Jets won. Williams was followed by San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson and Kansas City's Priest Holmes. These two teams finished third and fourth in the AFC West, respectively.
So if the running backs are not the deciding factor, how about receivers? The league's leading receiver last season was Indianapolis' Marvin Harrison with 1,722 yards. Harrison is a phenomenal receiver, but the Colts finished second in the AFC South behind Tennessee. Harrison was followed by the Vikings' Randy Moss and the Giants' Amani Toomer, both of which finished second in their divisions.
So far the Raiders and Buccaneers (last year's Super Bowl combatants) haven't shown up on either of these lists.
What about the quarterbacks? Last season's top quarterback was Oakland's Rich Gannon with 4,689 yards of total offense. Have we finally found the answer? Are quarterbacks the key to winning in the NFL?
Well Gannon did make it to the Super Bowl, but the number two quarterback last season was Buffalo's Drew Bledsoe followed by the Colts' Payton Manning. Buffalo finished dead last in the AFC East while we already mentioned the Colts.
Oakland is an interesting team to look at. They had the number one quarterback, but they also led the league in fumbles. They led in time of possession, but also led in penalties.
What does all this mean? I don't have a clue.
Let's take a look at Tampa Bay, the defending Super Bowl champs. The Bucs did win the NFC South last season on the way to picking up those prized Super Bowl rings. They had the number one defense in the league, but their offense came in 11th out of 16 teams in the NFC.
Can you guess who had the best offense in the NFC last year? Did you say Minnesota? I didn't think so.
So maybe defense is the key. I have often heard that offense wins games, but defense wins championships. If this were true, the AFC's best defense, The Dolphins, would have met the Bucs in the Super Bowl. They didn't. The Dolphins came in third in the AFC East.
After two days of looking over all these statistics I have come up with one hard fact: nobody knows who will win the 2004 Super Bowl. That's why they play a 16-game season.
With all that said, I'm picking the Saints!

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