SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the drawbacks of covering a Super Bowl is that I don't get to attend any parties. The best part of Mike Schmand's annual bash is getting into the 100-square pools and rooting for my numbers to come in while downing Blue Lights with my fellow partygoers from North Buffalo.
This year, I got two squares in a pool that benefits a North Tonawanda youth baseball league. I can't remember getting numbers this good: I drew 3-3 and 4-0, with 4 for the Broncos and 0 for the Panthers. In case you're one of the few people unfamiliar with such pools, you get a payoff if your team's numbers match the actual score at the end of each quarter.
How good are my numbers? The Wall Street Journal studied all 266 NFL games this season, including preseason and playoffs. They charted how often each numerical combination came up in the 1,064 quarters of play. They counted the final score if the game went into overtime, rather than the score at the end of regulation.
The numbers 3-3 came up 30 times during the season, which was actually less often than I would have expected. My 4-0 was better. Quarterly scores of 4-0 or 0-4 came up 68 times during the season, which was the fifth most-common combination.
The most common combination was 7-0 or 0-7, which occurred 128 times, or 12 percent. That was down a bit from earlier years, mainly because the longer extra-point distance resulted in far more misses on conversions. The next-best combination is 0 and 3.
The best number to have in the pools is 0, which makes a lot of sense. There were 512 quarters that had 0 in the score, nearly half of all the quarters played in the NFL this season. The number 7 came up 382 times and the number 3 showed up 329 times.
I have only a 50 percent chance of winning if the 4 and 0 come up, because I have the Broncos at 4 and the Panthers 0. Naturally, I win any 3-3 combination. So I figure that my chances of winning are 64 in 1,064, or 6 percent. Considering I have only 2 percent of the squares, those are pretty good odds.
By the way, the least likely winning numbers are 2 and 2. Not a single quarter ended up with both teams having 2 in the score this season. The next least likely combos: 9-9, 5-5 and 5-1, which occurred only once in 1,064 quarters during the year.
The only 5-5 combination of the NFL season: The final score of the Bills' 35-25 loss in Washington, which eliminated them from the playoffs. My Super Bowl prediction was 19-16, Panthers. Those numbers came in seven times this year.