(This story was published in 2002).
I have, what I think is, a pretty good mathematical system to determine playoff scores. It has helped me, for the last four years, predict the postseason pretty well, game-by-game. It entails looking mostly at common opponents of teams and scores of more recent games. When I put this match-up to the numbers, the score comes up: St. Louis Rams 25, New England Patriots 22.
For this particular Super Bowl, though, I need to look at two more important factors. First, given that these two teams played once before, how has each team fared against teams they faced a second time this season?
The Patriots played three of their four division rivals at home before playing them on the road – all except Miami. Even still, the second time the Patriots played a team, they improved their margin of victory by an average of seven points per game. For example, the Patriots played the Jets at home first and lost to them by seven. They then went on the road and won by one point – a differential of a total eight points. The Rams, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well. Despite playing only two division rivals on the road second, their average margin of victory went down by three points. This does not bode well for the Rams.
But, I might as well just throw away my calculator this year, because a power far greater has entered the picture. The most important factor in this game, despite these numbers, is something at play this year that no Super Bowl has ever had to contend with. Something that has brought franchises to near ruin, and has seen players let go by their teams. It sneaks up on individual players at night, keeps them away from sleep, and ruins their games. Now, the Super Bowl will have to contend with this phenomenon that has gripped the rest of the NFL for years:
She called me tonight and told me that she’s going to the Super Bowl. She told me that, because she’s going, the Patriots were going to win. She spent part of the Patriots’ off week in early January with Ty Law and told me that “he’s never been so determined in his life.” She told me lots of other things: how Drew Bledsoe’s a pompous ass, how everybody on the team loves Tom Brady, and how the Patriots have to win “because this year, the Patriots and red, white, and blue stand for more than just New England.”
My sister has told me things like this before with great disaster. I’ve heard “Ty just won’t let them lose this week” before seeing them get demolished by an inferior Jets team. This time, it’s different.
My sister has dated players in the NFL before – Terry Glenn among them. She has a knack for hanging out with a player and then, somehow, seeing his team underachieve the entire season. She is the not-so-silent, but deadly, "stud missile." Her plan for the Super Bowl is perfect.
She’s going to go to New Orleans on Saturday with her friend Emma, Danny Fortson’s assistant. Instead of hooking up with all of their friends on the Patriots (the Offices of Lawyer and Law, in particular), she’s going to find her way to one of the Rams’ key players. It may be Tory Holt, could be Isaac Bruce. Probably won’t be Orlando Pace – my sister’s man needs to have a six pack.
She’s going to find that key Rams player and she’s going to have some fun with them Saturday night – so that she can sit in the Super Dome Sunday afternoon and watch him lead his team to defeat. Before long, it will be Sunday night, and she’ll be partying with the hood rats on the Patriots.
The Rams can be as unstoppable as they want. The quarterback situation can be as muddled in New England as can possibly be. Lovie Smith can have his defense as geeked up as possible. It won’t matter. The New England Patriots have my sister working for them Saturday night, so they might as well start fitting the rings now.
New England 24, St. Louis 21