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Money Management

Analytic Investors picks Patriots to win Super Bowl with its alpha measurement

The New England Patriots should affirm its standing as the favorite in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on Feb. 3 and emerge triumphant over the Los Angeles Rams, said Analytic Investors, the $15 billion quantitative money management subsidiary of Wells Fargo Asset Management.

The pick is based on Analytic's NFL Alphas measurement, which ranks all 32 NFL teams based on how often they beat oddsmakers' expectations during the regular season. Analytic Investors' theory is that the more a team beats expectations in the regular season, the higher the team's alpha. That higher alpha, however, means it will be less likely that the team wins in the postseason.

For this year, the Patriots — with a -5.5% alpha — is the value choice for the Super Bowl over the Los Angeles Rams, with a 9.7% alpha this past regular season.

What is interesting about these two teams, said Christopher Lardieri, distribution enablement at Analytic Investors, is that both were favored in every single game during the regular season, and yet won their respective conference championships as underdogs. Also, with such existing high expectations during the regular season, both teams' alphas were lower than normal, and this year marks the first time two teams with alphas of a single digit or lower made it to the big game since the firm began its measurements in 2004.

"It is also the first time our pick has been a team with negative alpha," Mr. Lardieri said. This is the 16th year Analytic Investors has used its NFL Alphas measurement to predict the Super Bowl outcome; its record is 10-5.

Curiously, however, the firm is 0-4 in Super Bowls involving the New England Patriots. Mr. Lardieri joked that perhaps a "Patriot factor" needs to be worked into the model.

During the regular season, the Buffalo Bills were the team with the highest alpha, at 48.8%. Mr. Lardieri said in Week 3, the Bills, then 0-2, were 16 point underdogs against the Minnesota Vikings.

"Their alpha went from negative territory to somewhere in the positive upper 100s, 200s," Mr. Lardieri said. While the Bills were far from great, posting a soggy 6-10 final record, the team "got a lot of bang for their buck" from that single matchup, he said.