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Significant Digits For Friday, Feb. 3, 2017

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

This Sunday is the Super Bowl. Here’s an unbiased and fundamentally neutral rundown.


Since 2001 the New England Patriots have run 0.52 quarterback sneaks on average each game, about one every other week, making them the sneakiest team in the league. While some may construe this as a solid strategy that extends a drive, others like me see it for what it is: even more evidence of the fundamental perfidy of the New England Patriots organization. [FiveThirtyEight]

25 percent

Percentage of Americans who believe that God plays a role in the outcome of sporting events. Moreover, about half of all Americans think that the Almighty rewards athletes who believe and have faith. I hear this, but only because a Pats win this Sunday would all but guarantee the existence and work of Satan on earth for me, you know? [PRRI]

26 extra catches

The Atlanta Falcons will rely on star receiver Julio Jones to confront the Patriots in the Super Bowl. His 66 percent catch rate is higher than the 60 percent rate we’d expect based on the length of his average target, and we calculate that this difference has amounted to 26 “extra” catches over the past three seasons. [FiveThirtyEight]

29.7 percent

Drop in called penalties between the NFL regular season and the playoffs this year. However, defensive holding — the kind of thing that can stop a stunning athlete like Julio Jones from completing catches if it goes uncalled — has remained constant, at about 1.2 per game. [ESPN]


Career passing yards for Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, who’s entering his first Super Bowl with the most yards for a first-time Super Bowl QB in the modern NFL era. [ESPN]

$1.38 billion

Value of counterfeit goods seized by the government last year. Operation Team Player is the law enforcement mission trying to cut down on fake sports swag, including Super Bowl gear. That said, you can take my knock-off “18-1” shirt commemorating the New England Patriots’ 2007 loss to the New York Giants from my cold, dead hands, copper. [Bloomberg]

Good luck to both teams! It’s a shame national treasure Rob Gronkowski will not be playing, but it should be a fun game.

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.