No Experience Required?

super-bowl-li-patriots-patch-590x590On The 300s Podcast this week, we discussed whether or not previous Super Bowl experience would be a benefit for the Patriots heading into their Super Bowl LI matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. At first thought, I assumed previous Super Bowl experience would be a huge advantage for the Patriots.

The week leading up the Super Bowl is a gongshow. Media Day Opening Night is a just the beginning of a week full of distractions, and who blocks out distractions better than the Patriots? But Michael Salfino had an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, basically picking my assumption apart, piece by piece.

New England has 17 more players with Super Bowl experience (21) than the Falcons. In the last 40 Super Bowls, a team has held this advantage over its opponent 38 times. These teams are 16-22 in those games…

An edge at the game’s most important position didn’t matter either. Teams have had a QB with prior Super Bowl experience 19 times versus a team like the Falcons and Matt Ryan with none and are 9-10.

I stand corrected. Upon further reflection, this holds up pretty well over the last 15 years. Just off the top of my head, experience didn’t help the 2001 Rams, the 2007 Patriots, the 2009 Colts, the 2010 Steelers or the 2013 Broncos in the big game. It seems like Super Bowl veterans are just as liable to put up clunkers (Peyton Manning 2013) as Super Bowl first-timers (Cam Newton 2015).

The Super Bowl is such a colossal event that maybe no matter how many times you’ve been, each trip is its own adventure. We’ll see what events unfold this week, but I’m no longer under the impression that Brady’s six previous Super Bowl appearances give him the edge over Matt Ryan. I’d still take Brady over Ryan if I had my pick at QB but maybe Ryan and Atlanta’s blissful Super Bowl ignorance isn’t a shortcoming after all. Looking at the history of this game, maybe having no baggage is an advantage.

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