Since 1977, Pro Scout Inc. has worked with and provided insight for 33 Super Bowl teams and 12 Hall of Fame coaches, owners, and general managers. The owner and president, Mike Giddings, is frequently tasked with providing NFL executives his expertise using his detailed metrics for evaluation.
In order to predict playoff success, Giddings assess each team based on three measures: need fulfillment, ‘blue player’ talent, and a 2:1 strike to blue player ratio. Let’s define each metric:
At the conclusion of the regular season, just prior to the start of the 2022 NFL Playoffs, Pro Scout analyzed the top eight positional needs for each NFL team. The level to which these ‘needs’ are fulfilled is reviewed after free agency and the draft and are then evaluated throughout the season and are finalized before the playoffs. Teams that meet this criteria resolved six of their top eight needs (75%) from the previous season.
The next category looks at if a team has at least 10 ‘blue players.’ Blue players are considered the league’s elite making up the top 10-12% of the NFL. They are vital to Super Bowl hopeful rosters as they frequently make the difference in close games. The goal for playoff teams is to have at least 10, but Super Bowl Champions historically have at least 13.
The final tool used for evaluation deciphers which teams have a strike to blue ratio of 2:1 or less. A player can accumulate a maximum of three ‘strikes’ based on their age, injury history, and production. A team with more strikes tends to signify the roster is older, injury riddled and unproductive. Having a strike to blue ratio of 2:0 or less identifies a team with numerous blue players and minimal age, injury, and production issues.
As you can see from the graph above, ProScout pinpointed five teams that reached his criteria including the two Super Bowl teams in the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams. While it’s no surprise that the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers were part of this group, very few outside of Giddings had the Bengals as part of the league’s elite.
Although Super Bowl LVI has concluded and the Rams are the NFL’s Champions, let’s dive into the key matchups that made the difference in the game.
Comparing the Rams offense to the Bengals D, it is abundantly clear that Cincinnati has the edge. Although Cooper Kupp won Super Bowl MVP and completed arguably the greatest wide receiver season ever, he was the Rams’ only offensive advantage, according to ProScout.
Meanwhile, the Bengals defense had a plethora of talent on that side of the ball. Their front seven included the likes of Sam Hubbard, DJ Reader, Trey Hendrickson, and Logan Wilson, not to mention Chidobe Awuzie in their secondary. Based on the ‘blue player’ discrepancy you might have expected the Bengals to be all over Matthew Stafford and the Rams offensive line. Surprisingly, that prediction did not come to fruition as the Bengals only recorded two sacks and 10 pressures; however, they did manage to stop the run limiting Los Angeles to 1.9 yards per carry, a Super Bowl record for a winner.
Flipping to the other side of the ball, the Bengals top talent comes from their quarterback and skills positions. Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, and C.J. Uzomah make up the Bengals ‘blue players’; however, Uzomah was clearly playing hurt in the game. Meanwhile, Cincinnati did not have any advantages in the trenches as their struggles on the offensive line became a dominant storyline throughout the Super Bowl.
Giddings anticipated that the Rams defense, particularly their front seven, was the most dominant positional group in the game with seven major difference makers. His prediction proved true as LA’s defensive line manhandled the Bengals’ offensive line, ending with a Super Bowl record seven sacks and 26 pressures. Mixon did have a respectable day on the ground, rushing for 72 yards at 4.8 yards per carry, but it was not enough as the Rams took home Super Bowl LVI 23-20.