The magic number
Resting Brian Westbrook in the Eagles' final two regular-season games might have been the smartest thing head coach Andy Reid has done all year.
It's not because he guaranteed Westbrook wouldn't get hurt. If Westbrook had played against the Rams and Bengals, he may have reached 1,000 rushing yards for the season.
Historically, Super Bowl teams have an advantage when they don't have a 1,000-yard rusher.
Westbrook finished the season as the Eagles' leading rusher with 812 yards, making the Eagles the seventh team since 1990 to reach the Super Bowl without a 1,000-yard rusher.
Throw out the Tampa Bay-Oakland matchup two years ago, in which neither team had a 1,000-yard rusher -- Michael Pittman led the Bucs with 718 yards; Charlie Garner led the Raiders with 962 -- and the four others are undefeated in the Super Bowl. (chart, right)
The last team to defy this trend and win a championship with a 1,000-yard rusher against a team that didn't have one was in 1986, when the Giants (Joe Morris, 1,516 yards) beat the Broncos (Sammy Winder, 789) in Super Bowl XXI in Pasadena, Calif.
This is the third straight year one of the Super Bowl teams hasn't had a back with more than 850 rushing yards. From 1991-01, all 22 teams had at least one back with 850 rushing yards.
• Seventeen of the past 20 Super Bowls were won by the team that allowed fewer regular-season points. The only exceptions since 1984 are the '89 49ers (over the Bengals), and the '97 and '98 Broncos (over the Packers and Falcons, respectively).
Both the Patriots and Eagles allowed 260 points this season. This is the first time since the NFL began holding championship games in 1933 that two teams playing for a league title allowed the same number of regular-season points.
• The Eagles and Patriots each lost one game this year by more than one point (not counting the Eagles' two season-ending losses when their starters didn't play). Both losses were by 14 or more points to the Steelers at Heinz Field during an eight-day span. In their 15 meaningful games not against the Steelers, the Eagles outscored their opponents 413-209. In their games not against the Steelers, the Patriots outscored their opponents 478-256.
Philadelphia's 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh is the worst in its past 96 games. New England's 34-20 loss to the Steelers is its worst loss in the past 33 games.
The Steelers only won one other game this year by 14 or more points (24-10 at Cleveland).