We all know that Dallas and New England are currently the favorites to meet in Super Bowl LI. But being a Super Bowl favorite isn’t just about winning games. It’s also about being ahead of your competition.
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New England is the Super Bowl favorite right now, even though the Patriots have the same record as Oakland and are one game behind Dallas. That’s because both Oakland and Dallas face more competition than the Patriots do.
For Oakland, the competition is for a division title. The Raiders have only a one-game lead on the Chiefs, and they have to play in Kansas City in two weeks. So while the Raiders may be tied for the best record in the AFC, they also have only a 59 percent chance of winning their own division. Making it to the Super Bowl will be a lot tougher as a wild card. Oakland, Kansas City and Denver all have much worse Super Bowl odds than New England does because only one of them can win the AFC West.
A running back will never have the same impact as a quarterback in todayâ€™s game, but the question remains whether Prescottâ€™s passing benefits from the threat of Elliott’s running. One way to answer this question is to look at whether Prescott benefits from extra defenders in the box and play-action.
About 34 percent of Prescottâ€™s dropbacks have come against a loaded box, which is about 6 percentage points higher than the NFL average. However, Prescott has performed equally well with or without extra defenders in the box. He leads the NFL in Total QBR against an unloaded box and ranks second in QBR without a play-action fake.
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What about his offensive line? Thereâ€™s no doubt that Dallas has an elite run-blocking offensive line, but in terms of pass protection, Prescott has been under duress at a league-average rate. When pressured, he has the second-best QBR and has not turned the ball over in 107 dropbacks.
Finally, Prescott is not simply a product of one elite wide receiver. Dez Bryant has dealt with injuries, and it has been a team effort for Dallasâ€™ receivers, with Bryant, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten and Terrance Williams all contributing.
We would be na?ve to ignore Prescottâ€™s teammates, but he clearly has made his own MVP-caliber impact. All of the candidates on the MVP ballot are having superb seasons, but Prescott not only is having one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history, but also, based on his efficiency and total value, might wind up with one of the best single seasons ever.