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Analytics and Sports


The Super Bowl and the Long Ball

I have written this season about the importance of the long ball in theNFL. I've even written aboutFlacco's skill and propensity to throw the long ball. So now it is time to turn that analysis on the Super Bowl and see why the 49ers should win this Sunday.

First, the long ball (passes longer than 15 yards in the air) helps explain why the 49ers made the switch from Smith to Kaepernick, even though Smith was completing 70% of his passes. Turns out that even though Smith and Kaep both complete long passes at about the same rate (54%) and well above league average (41%), Kaep throws deep nearly twice as often as Smith did.