February 4, 2016
With Super Bowl 50 pitting legendary quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos against upstart QB Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, Alan Reifman, a professor of human development and family studies at Texas Tech University and author of the blog The Hot Hand in Sports, which analyzes “streakiness” in sports, gives the upper hand to the Panthers in Sunday’s big game at Levi Stadium in San Francisco.
The Carolina Panthers, representing the National Football Conference (NFC), have two major advantages over the Denver Broncos from the American Football Conference (AFC). First, the NFC was the stronger conference this season, with its teams winning 35 times and losing only 29 times against AFC teams in inter-conference play. Second, the Panthers scored 500 points during the regular season and gave up 308, for a point-differential of +192. The Broncos didn’t outscore their regular-season opponents that dramatically, scoring 355 and allowing 296, for a point-differential of only +59. Carolina’s point-differential is thus 133 points better than Denver’s. There have been eight prior Super Bowls in which one of the teams enjoyed a similar advantage to this year’s Panthers (their conference holding an edge of at least five games against the rival conference, and a point-differential superiority of 51 or more points) and seven of them have won (87.5 percent). Further, in the 45 Super Bowls played under the modern AFC vs. NFC format, only four teams that had a regular-season point-differential smaller than 59 have won.”
Alan Reifman, professor of human development and family studies, (806) 834-5174 or firstname.lastname@example.org