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    Cause and Effect
    by Dennis Ranahan

    The 2018 National Football League regular season was the highest scoring in history. Coming into the year, only 19 teams had ever scored as many as 500 points in a season, only the Denver Broncos five years ago had tallied as many as 600. Then, in 2018, three teams cracked the 500 point total. The Kansas City Chiefs the most, 565, and the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints followed with 527 and 504 respectively.

    On the heels of the highest scoring season the NFL staged their lowest scoring Super Bowl when the New England Patriots and Rams combined for 16 points.

    What this clearly illustrates is that NFL results are not necessarily a repeat of what has come before, but more tied to what the previous results logically lead to based on the one factor that influences every NFL result, motivation.

    When the Patriots and Rams came into the Super Bowl with defenses that ranked 7th and 20th in points allowed, and offenses that ranked second and fourth in the 32 team league in terms of points scored, one could logically expect a high scoring game. But that logic is only based on what has happened, while the art of handicapping is more attuned to how past results feed what is more likely going to happen while employing cause and effect principles.

    When defenses are overmatched, they are more motivated to overcome the challenge. The more motivated teams are the ones that appear to be playing on their toes, while an overconfident squad can look more as if they are struggling in sand.

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