Raybon’s Super Bowl 53 WTF Rankings: Don’t Get Flying A– Stomped
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16).
- Every Super Bowl will have its share of great plays, but sometimes it's the bad plays that end up determining who advances.
- Chris Raybon has devised a rating system to determine which team is most likely to infuriate its fans and backers in Super Bowl 53.
- Each team is rated in areas such as likelihood of committing a backbreaking drop, missing a potential game-winning field goal, and more.
It’s time for Super Bowl 53, and WTF rankings are back like Dee Ford should have been.
On behalf of everyone with KC -3: Dee Ford WTF pic.twitter.com/a6kg66fcKr
— Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon) January 21, 2019
Can we make it 2-for-2 with our No. 1 pick?
Note: Adjusted completion percentage, drops, missed tackles, and career punt block data is via Pro Football Focus. Punt block percentage data is via teamrankings.com. All other data is via pro-football-reference.com. Stats are from 2018 including postseason unless otherwise noted.
Which Team is Most Likely to be Doomed by a Drop?
- Patriots: 6.4% drop rate (Julian Edelman, 0.71/game)
- Rams: 5.5% drop rate (Todd Gurley, 0.56.game)
If you had money on the Rams last week, the tilt didn’t take long:
The Jared Goff INT/Todd Gurley droppic.twitter.com/Rsm2TVKHuC
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 20, 2019
The Rams weren’t the only team to escape with a dropped pass that led to an interception. In this space last time I wrote “It’s hard to imagine Edelman dropping a pass in a key moment after he made one of the best catches in Super Bowl history.”
Edelman touched this one..and Interception pic.twitter.com/OD9n60byDo
— RealWorldSports (@RealWorldSports) January 21, 2019
Should have trusted the numbers. And Dee Ford should have stayed onsides.
Also, honorary mention to Rob Gronkowski, who tipped the would-be game-ending interception that Ford’s WTFery negated.
Which Team is Most Likely to Miss on a Key Throw?
- Jared Goff, Rams: 75.5% Adjusted Completion Pct.
- Tom Brady Patriots: 76.3% Adjusted Completion Pct.
Goff completed 71.4% of his passes to Cooper Kupp; Kupp is on injured reserve with a torn ACL.
Goff is averaging 10.5 completions combined to Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks; the Patriots held the last three elite receiving duos they faced to an average of 5.8 receptions per game below their combined season average.
Goff’s highest completion percentage among players he targeted at least 10 times is to Todd Gurley at 72.4%; Gurley was last seen playing 32 snaps in the NFC Championship game, a three-year low. C.J. Anderson played more snaps than Gurley and ran one fewer route; Anderson only has 8 targets as a Ram, and already three, or 37.5%, have fallen incomplete.
Which Team is Most Likely to Throw a Game-Changing Pick?
- Jared Goff, Rams: 0.72/game (2.1% of attempts)
- Tom Brady, Patriots: 0.72/game (2.0% of attempts)
With 13:45 to go in the second quarter of the AFC title game and New England with a third-and-goal from the Kansas City 1-yard line, Brady had a true WTF moment:
Tom Brady throws a TERRIBLE interception in the end zone pic.twitter.com/1GmZZLKIAM
— Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) January 21, 2019
Goff’s pick last week was Gurley’s fault, not his. But the Patriots have at least one interception in 13-of-18 games this season (72.2%), meaning Goff needs to take extra care to protect the ball or the chorus of Goff WTFs could reach Jeff Fisher-era decibel levels.
Which Team is Most Likely to Get Pick-Sixed?
- Tom Brady, Patriots: One every 780 career attempts
- Jared Goff, Rams: One every 1,356 career attempts
Aqib Talib has taken 10 of his 35 career picks to the house. Marcus Peters averages 26.7 yards per interception return in his career. Aaron Donald leads the league in pressures. Tom Brady’s Achilles heel is interior pressure.
Pretend I put a “so you’re saying … there’s a chance” meme here.
Which Team is Most Likely to Fumble Away Its Super Bowl Chances?
- Rams: 1.06 fumbles/game (Jared Goff 0.78)
- Patriots: 0.65 fumbles/game (Tom Brady 0.24)
If Jared Goff fumbles in Super Bowl 53, it would be his ninth (!) consecutive game with at least one fumble.
Goff has fumbled at least once in 11 of 18 games this season, with 3 multi-fumble games.
— Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon) January 30, 2019
If you’re a Rams fan, this has to elicit nightmares of Tony Banks. Actually … who am I kidding? If you were a Rams fan when Banks was QB, that means you were were probably at St. Louis Rams fan and thus over this team right around when ownership pulled its whole “move the team to LA before finally firing Jeff Fisher and going all in on a Super Bowl run” shenanigan.
Which Team is Most Likely to Miss a Decisive Field Goal Attempt?
- Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots: 30-of-35 (85.7%)
- Greg Zuerlein, Rams: 34-of-39 (87.2%)
The Patriots are primed to close as the most popular Super Bowl bet ever tracked: 72% of spread tickets are on New England as of this writing. (View live odds here.)
- Buffalo had a population just under 325,000 in 1991, aka the year of “wide left.”
- The greater New England area has a population of over 14 million today.
- We’ve already tracked over 80,000 bets on this game.
- Betting is a lot more accessible than it was in 1991.
Taken together, that all means that if Stephen Gostkowski ends up pulling a Scott Norwood, it has a chance to go down as the worst field goal miss in Super Bowl history.
Which Team is Most Likely to be Haunted by a Missed Extra Point?
- Greg Zuerlein, Rams: 40-of-41 (97.6%)
- Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots: 58-of-59 (98.3%)
Three of the Patriots’ five Super Bowl wins have come by exactly three points. There’s about a 4.3% chance that at least one team misses an extra point. The spread is 2.5. This is wildly tilting.
Which Team is Most Likely to Get a Punt Blocked?
- Ryan Allen, Patriots: 1-of-462 career punts blocked; Rams 2.7% blocked punt percentage in 2018
- Johnny Hekker, Rams: 0-of-470 career punts blocked; Patriots 2.4% blocked punt percentage in 2018
It’s easier to not have your punt blocked when your head coach has you attempt a fake 7% of the time.
Which Team is Most Likely to Whiff on a Key Tackle?
- Rams: 8.5% missed tackle rate (Dante Fowler 0.70/game)
- Patriots: 7.2% missed tackle rate (Kyle Van Noy 0.78/game)
Dante Fowler missed six tackles in his first five games as a Ram, but has missed just one in five games since. Aqib Talib hasn’t missed one yet this season on 500 snaps, and has missed only one on 1,253 snaps dating back to the start of last season. “Due” isn’t a thing, but if it were, the Rams would it be it.
Which Team is Most Likely to Commit* a Backbreaking Penalty?
- Patriots: 6.0 penalties for 48.9 yards per game
- Rams: 5.9 penalties for 55.0 yards per game
*Have to actually get called for it.
winner loser is …
- Los Angeles Rams 15, New England Patriots 15
A tie? WTF.
If you’re a glass half full person, this is good. It means both teams are equally good at not fucking up. If you’re a glass half empty person, this is not good. It means both teams are equally likely to fuck up. No matter which of them you are, I’d just like to remind you glasses were made to be filled more than halfway.
Let’s break this tie in a similar fashion to how the NFL likes its overtimes decided: Completely arbitrarily.
I just flipped a coin for it. It’s the Rams.
What’s that? Not quite authentic enough to the NFL?
OK, I’ll grab some NFL officials this time to verify. It was gonna be the Rams again, but then Nickell Robey-Coleman came out of nowhere and interfered with the coin in the air. Might have hit off his helmet too. Now it’s the Patriots. Don’t worry, Roger Goodell will have a press conference and it make it all worse.
But okay, okay, let’s actually settle this. I’ll do a Google search of each team and “WTF.” Most results wins. Lowest search time wins in the event of a tie — we strive for efficiency here.
- “Los Angeles Rams WTF”: 1,590,000 search results (0.35 seconds)
- “New England Patriots WTF”: 1,240,000 search results (0.38 seconds)
The internets have spoken, and there you have it: The Los Angeles Rams are the more WTF-worthy team of Super Bowl 53.
Google takes more time to come up with fewer “WTF” results for the Patriots. Because of course it does. Over the past four Super Bowls we’ve already seen the Seahawks and Falcons go into full-on WTF?! mode in losses to the Pats, so the Rams have a high bar to clear for the trifecta.
Also, a search for “Bill Belichick evil” returns about 328,000 results, and a search for “Sean McVay evil” returns 102,000 results. McVay really is as good as advertised: Two years into head coaching and he’s already almost a third of the way to perceived Belichickian levels of evil.
My favorite search result on Page 1 for the Rams is by far a Reddit thread entitled “WTF is this? #76 With The Flying Ass Stomp!” that links the clip below from the NFC title game where Rams wide receiver Josh Reynolds is indeed getting flying ass stomped by No. 76 (starts at 20:42):
Because when you’re getting flying ass stomped, you’ve already lost.
Unless, of course, you lost but didn’t actually lose and then won and probably deserved to win anyway even though you should have lost — but won.
Chris Raybon is a Senior Editor at the Action Network and a co-host of “I’ll Take That Bet” on ESPN+. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2010 — even the kneel downs. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRaybon and read about how he quit his accounting job and got paid to watch sports.