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Super Bowl 50 Forecast: Finance Pros Give Their Predictions

  • By Ira Apfel
  • Published: 2/3/2016

superbowlEverybody has an opinion on who will win Super Bowl 50—and finance professionals are no exception. The only difference is finance pros get paid to make forecasts for a living. So who would you trust with a Super Bowl prediction—an ex-jock on television, or a Certified Corporate FP&A Professional?

As they say on TV, let’s go to the tape:

Chuck Smith, Vice President, FP&A, Forward Air:

“Denver will win. My analysis shows their strong balance sheet, including acquired goodwill of Peyton Manning’s experience and brand awareness, will be leveraged to drive more points-flow. Carolina’s innovative new product line, featuring the Newton Superman, is a hot seller, but the operating density is just not there yet.”

Travis Lockhart, Finance Manager, DLT Solutions:

“Each year when I participate in elimination pools, I use a model I built to help guide my decisions. With elimination pools, you can often only pick each team once per season (playoffs become exceptions), so timing is paramount. For this model, I use a simple algorithm to visualize the chances for each teams’ success against their opponents over the course of the year. The graphed win values themselves are meaningless except when compared to the other teams within each week. I don’t often use this tool as an absolute guide, but more to show me various top selections and help me to time picking one team against the other.

“Below is the output. As you can imagine, it’s very noisy week-to-week. I tried to show only the top few, but Excel graphing capabilities either created meaningless phantom trails or single data points that were not very visible, so we have to deal with what we have and focus on the top. I also have it programmed so that I can identify which ranking I want to view per week and it will spit out who I might wish to choose (shown further below for Rank 1 picks each week—which is NOT realistic over the course of the year, as the top teams can’t get chosen over and over, but where I would rather want to choose their estimated peaks on the chart when the time is right).
“Also, as you can see, in the playoffs and the Super Bowl, the values get quite a bit lower—both indicating the tough competition, as well as the fact that the home field advantage (a part of my calculation) is lost.  

“All that said, the model calls for Carolina. I haven’t been watching things too closely lately, so I won’t disagree. Carolina it is!”

Click on images for better viewing:

Aaron Ling, Director of FP&A, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology:

“I know some people will build elaborate Excel spreadsheets to predict the winner and that’s what we FP&A people do, but when I am sports picking, I try not to overanalyze. Therefore I choose the easy route which is the coin flip! Of course I flip the coin, two out of three times. This year I’ve done my scientific approach and it's telling me Denver is going to win!” 

Jake Bailey, Controller and Director of Finance, Tana Exploration:

“I’ll throw in another pick for Denver. When looking at wins by conference, there has not been a period of four years where the opposite conference won from year to year. In other words, in the history of the Super Bowl there has never been a pattern of wins in the order of AFC, NFC, AFC, NFC or vice versa.
“Except that’s wrong. [Ed. Note: It’s common knowledge that the point of forecasting is not to be 100 percent accurate. Rather, the point of forecasting is the exercise itself. Except in the case of the Super Bowl, where your forecast really needs to be precise.]

“Maybe I should actually look at the visual. It happened in the last four years. Switch my pick to Carolina. I think the trend will continue. We will have a fifth consecutive year where the opposite conference wins.”

Updated on February 5:

Deborah Rodrigo, Finance Executive, Toronto, Canada:

I am a Peyton Manning and Broncos fan. Is there a better representative of the gentleman quarterback who is smart, industrious and resourceful than Manning? But Carolina's strengths and enthusiasm are undeniable. Let's hope the Denver defense will keep the game close especially in the first half. Don't want another Superbowl 48. No fancy charts... the stats are in my head. I know the roster. I've read up on the coaching staff, and the gut instinct is kicking in.

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