Seahawks Will Win Super Bowl XLIX for Back-to-Back Titles Based on a Surprising Predictor of Big-Game Success

January 20, 2015

Team whose fan base has higher employment has won 20 of last 25 Super Bowls; Seattle – with 5.3 percent jobless rate – will win for second year in a row, according to RiseSmart study.

For the second year in a row, the Seattle Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl and now have the chance to become one of nine teams to secure back-to-back wins since the championship title was introduced in 1967. While the team’s fans – known as the 12th Man – have earned a reputation as some of the loudest, most loyal fans in the NFL, can their support push the Seahawks over the top for back-to-back championship titles? A RiseSmart analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that it can.

According to RiseSmart, a leading provider of contemporary career transition solutions, the team whose fan base enjoys greater economic prosperity, as measured by lower unemployment rates, has won 20 of the past 25 Super Bowls – an 80 percent success rate.

Last year, RiseSmart successfully predicted the Seahawk’s win over the Denver Broncos. At the time, the unemployment rate for the Seattle metro area was 5.9 percent, compared to Denver’s 6.7 percent. Not only were the Seahawks able to defeat the Broncos, but they did so with a 35-point lead.

Since then, Seattle’s unemployment rate has continued to improve. Through November, the 2014 unemployment rate for the Seattle metro area was 5.3 percent, compared to 5.4 percent for the Boston metro area. In light of this, RiseSmart is predicting a Seahawk victory over the Patriots.

“With 25 years as one of the most consistently accurate Super Bowl predictors, it’s reasonable to question whether this correlation is more than simply a coincidence,” said Sanjay Sathe, president and CEO of RiseSmart. “One could make the case that a fan base with higher employment is more likely to have expendable income to attend games, buy team merchandise, and cheer on their team at sports bars and restaurants. Maybe that additional fan support gives their team an edge that ultimately drives them to Super Bowl victory. If so, that’s how, once again, Seattle’s 12th Man will make the difference at Super Bowl XLIX, according to the unemployment predictor.”

On Jan. 28, 1990, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV by a 45 point lead; that year, the San Francisco metro area’s unemployment rate of 3.3 percent was substantially lower than Denver’s 5.4 percent. So began the string in which 20 out of 25 times the Super Bowl winning city had a lower unemployment rate than that of the losing hometown.

While the Seahawks would seem to have only the slightest edge over the Patriots with a difference of only 0.1 percent in unemployment rate, RiseSmart's analysis shows that the predictor has been highly accurate in similar match-ups historically. In the two Super Bowls since 1990 in which difference in jobless rate was just 0.1 percent, the Patriots' defeat of the Eagles in 2005 and the Colts defeat of the Bears in 2007, the predictor proved accurate in both cases.

Other facts of note:

  • Seattle’s last trip to the Super Bowl, Super Bowl XLVIII, was the most-watched American television program in history with an average audience of 111.5 million viewers
  • The New York Giants have thwarted the prediction formula in three of the five games where the correlation didn’t hold true – two of those three games were upsets against the New England Patriots.

“As always, correlation does not imply causation. And there are exceptions to every rule,” Sathe said. “But one should never underestimate the power of having a job.”

Super Bowl

Winner

Jobless Rate (%)

Loser

Jobless Rate (%)

1990

San Francisco

3.3

Denver

5.4

1991

New York

5.5

Buffalo

5.3

1992

Washington

4.6

Buffalo

7.2

1993

Dallas

6.9

Buffalo

7.5

1994

Dallas

6.1

Buffalo

6.8

1995

San Francisco

5.9

San Diego

7.1

1996

Dallas

4.8

Pittsburgh

6

1997

Green Bay

3.4

New England

4.1

1998

Denver

2.9

Green Bay

3.3

1999

Denver

2.9

Atlanta

3.3

2000

St. Louis

3.5

Tennessee

2.9

2001

Baltimore

3.8

New York

4.4

2002

New England

3.6

St. Louis

4.6

2003

Tampa Bay

5.6

Oakland

6.2

2004

New England

5.7

Carolina

6.3

2005

New England

5.0

Philadelphia

5.1

2006

Pittsburgh

5.2

Seattle

5.0

2007

Indianapolis

4.4

Chicago

4.5

2008

New York

4.4

New England

4.1

2009

Pittsburgh

5.1

Arizona

5.3

2010

New Orleans

6.5

Indianapolis

8.7

2011

Green Bay

7.7

Pittsburgh

8

2012

New York

8.5

New England

6.6

2013

Baltimore

7.2

San Francisco

8.1

2014

Seattle

5.9

Denver

6.7

Note: Jobless rates are for year prior to Super Bowl year. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics