By Kyle | February 7, 2012
Thanks to Gregg Easterbrook for writing bracingly about fortune’s role in the Super Bowl. The Giants and Patriots are evenly matched. It basically comes down to a coin flip as to which team wins. Tyree doesn’t make that catch in the first one? Giants lose. Welker comes down with that big play in the second one? Giants lose. A couple of fumbles, had they occurred a split-second earlier, also could have cost the Giants big-time. In fact, if you take out the win over the Eagles in a game that wasn’t really that close, the other four Super Bowls the Patriots were in amount to a coin flip. A coin can easily hit heads four times in a row, in which case the Patriots are 5-0 in Super Bowls and universally held to be the greatest team, coach and quarterback ever. Instead, the coin comes out heads twice and tails twice, and we have a meme about how Eli is the one guy who can beat Brady and a lot of nonsense about whether Eli Manning is better than Peyton Manning because the former is 8-3 in the postseason while the latter is 9-10.
Even assuming the teams around them are equal (not the case, I think), and the quality of their opponents in the postseason has been equal (when it’s been fairly clear that the AFC has been superior to the NFC for most of the last decade), that’s pretty silly. The playoff record yields sample size error. It’s like guessing who will win the next presidential election by polling the next 20 people you see. Over the aggregate of many thousands of plays in their careers, Peyton has clearly been the superior player.