Nate Silver, the New York Times’ stats blogger who gained national acclaim for his political forecasts, has made a prediction for this year’s Super Bowl matchup: Patriots vs. Seahawks.
Silver appeared on ESPN’s First Take to explain how he arrived at his prediction. Most of the segment was devoted to the choice of Seattle as the NFC representative.
“The point differential is often a better predictor than just the wins and losses,” Silver said.
Seattle won all five of its December games, and three of the last four were blowouts.
“I’d say that New England and Denver are the two best teams,” Silver added. “I think if you have a Denver-New England AFC Championship game, it’ll be one of those cases where it really is the de facto Super Bowl.”
Silver also said the coach/quarterback combination is essential, and compared Bill Belichick’s approach to the use of sabermetrics in baseball.
“The Patriots are very aggressive on going for it on fourth down. If you run the numbers on that, teams punt way more than they should,” Silver said. “Actually guys should go for it more and take more risk in a football game, and Bill Belichick will do those things, and he reads the papers and so forth — not the newspapers, the academic papers that say you want to actually keep your offense on the field on fourth down a lot, and those little marginal things when you have to win now three more games against really good teams begin to add up.”