Looking for a pattern to help your Super Bowl LI wager? What’s that — you hear the echo of a million coaches repeating the mantra “Defense wins championships”? Well you can take that little anecdotal tidbit and add Big Data to it and get the same answer. The Patriots enter the Super Bowl with the top-ranked defense in the NFL. The Falcons enter the Super Bowl with the top-ranked offense in the NFL. There is precedent for this. Seven times the Super Bowl has featured matchups between the top-ranked NFL offense and the top-ranked NFL defense.
In six out of seven of those Super Bowls (with the first one actually occurring in Super Bowl 1), the top-ranked defensive team won the game. The Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl will be the eighth such matchup. Only in Super Bowl XXIV did the No. 1 offense triumph. And boy did it, as the Joe Montana-led 49ers destroyed the Denver Broncos 55-10. Of course big data can tell you anything you want it to — just ask the election data pundits. Data also says the underdog has won 12 of the last 15 Super Bowls — and Atlanta is the underdog, giving about 3 points.