This Week in Research: Super Bowl Edition

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It’s easy to figure out who will win the Super Bowl. Just calculate the average point difference that occurs each season when AFC and NFC teams play one another, average these figures annually to determine which conference was stronger, plot it on a graph, and track the corresponding Super Bowl victories. Simple!

Well, maybe it’s not so simple, but in any case, we’re glad that Johns Hopkins mathematician (and die-hard Ravens fan) Daniel Naiman did the math for us. He found that over the past 42 years, the AFC had a stronger season 22 times, and won the Super Bowl 13 (that is, 59 percent) of those times. In the 20 instances that the NFC had a stronger season, their team won the big game 70 percent of the time (14 games).

But let’s cut to the chase:  do the numbers predict a Ravens victory? Well, not so much. The 2012 NFC season was the strongest since 1970, with that conference’s teams beating AFC teams by an average of 5.6 points. But like a true Ravens fan, Naiman would rather discount his statistical model than his team. “This is just one curious pattern that might help in making predictions,” he told the Johns Hopkins Hub, “and there are many other ways to slice and dice the football data.”

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After getting tired of trotting out the same old comments about Ray Lewis’s connection to a decade-old murder case, the haters have latched on to a new way to slag #52:  alleging that he’s self-doping with deer antler spray. But, according to a Johns Hopkins professor, that doesn’t make sense.

According to Johns Hopkins doctor Roberto Salvatori, the spray’s alleged main ingredient — IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor — can’t be delivered in spray form. And Salvatori should know; he runs a lab studying growth hormone deficiency, which IGF-1 is used to treat. “If there were, a lot of people would be happy that they don’t need to get shots anymore,” he told the Baltimore Sun this week. “It’s just simply not possible for it to come from a spray.”

So even if Lewis did use the spray — which is itself up for debate — it didn’t do anything. So, hate away haters.



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