Dr. John F. Murray, aka "Football Freud" and "Football Shrink," Picks the Colts
Miami, Florida -- January 29, 2007 -- A Palm Beach sport performance psychologist says the Colts should soundly defeat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. "The Super Bowl is filled with emotional intensity and mental factors play the biggest role possible" says Dr. John F. Murray, called the "football Freud" by the Washington Post. Murray is also the creator of the Mental Performance Index (MPI) which estimates how close a team came to performing to perfection on a scale from .000 to 1.000 like a baseball batting average.
Dr. Murray works with NFL players and pro athletes in many other sports, and he has used the MPI the last five NFL seasons to forecast how well the teams are performing before the Super Bowl. The system has beaten the offical spread in the Super Bowl 3 of the last 4 years, but has estimated the realtive performance of the teams almost exactly, showing a Tampa blowout win 4 years ago, and extremely close games the next two years, exact performance estimates despite the final outcome in last year's game.
But to a sport psychologist, no team ever reaches perfection. Indianapolis (.547) scored much better than Chicago (.520) on the total MPI score throughout the playoffs, and higher than the Bears in all six other categories.
The Colts were superb on offense, where they posted a .548 to .510 advantage over the Bears.
They also held the advantage on defense (.536 to .515), special teams (.560 to .558), total pressure (.570 to .507), pressure offense (.458 to .394), pressure defense (.673 to .621) and total pressure (.570 to .507).
Taken together, it appears that Chicago is outmatched in this game.
The Bears will have to play an almost perfect game, win the battle of turnovers, and make huge plays to win this one. Indianapolis has so decisively outperformed Chicago that a two or three touchdown victory looks imminent.
The 45-year-old Ph.D. licensed sport/performance psychologist in Palm Beach assigns points on each play throughout the playoffs for "focused execution," "pressure management," and "reduction of mental errors," and game totals range from .000 to 1.000 (perfection).
"Scoring at .600 is excellent," said Murray. The Colts' .547 average throughout the playoffs is very impressive.
As NFL coach Herman Edwards once said, "On every play somebody screws up."
Many good football coaches encourage their teams to place their focus on one play at a time.
The MPI measures how well a team does this.
It's power comes from the number of plays in a game (approximately 150) and the inclusion of mental factors in the scoring.
While the MPI scores almost always predict to game outcome, the scores show which teams are performing better, in precisely which specific areas, and regardless of which team won.
This gives coaches great insight before their upcoming games. They are able to more clearly see not only how their own team is performing, but to anticipate the fine differences, strengths and weaknesses of their oppoents in a scoring system that standardizes performance like a baseball batting average.
The MPI accurately forecast the blowout upset win by Tampa Bay over Oakland four years ago, and forecast "extremely close games" the next two years, beating the official spread each of the first 3 years it was used and broadcast in the national media.
Last year, in its 4th public use, the MPI accurately forecast that Seattle would perform better on offense and defense and worse on special teams than the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The MPI indeed showed that Seattle would perform better, but for the first time in the 4 Super Bowls, the lower performing team on the MPI won the game primarily due to three rare big plays that altered the outcome. There was also some heavy criticism about the referees.
This shows that sometimes even the best data available will occasionally not predict outcome -- even while predicting to performance as the MPI has done each of the previous four years.
If the Colts win by more than a touchdown, the MPI forecast will have beaten the official spread 4 of the first 5 years, very impressive evidence of the accuracy of the system.
The MPI has been featured by ESPN The Magazine (December, 2002) and Murray has appeared on hundreds of radio and television stations to discuss the MPI and sport psychology.
Last year, Dr. Murray discussed the MPI on ESPN Canada, ABC television in West Palm Beach and CBS television in Sacramento.
Previous appearances include Westwood One national radio, ESPN Radio affiliates (e.g., Dallas, TX and Blacksburg, VA), Ron Jacober's award winning "Sports on Sunday Morning" on KMOX in St. Louis, Mo., numerous radio programs in Canada, and Bloomberg Radio.
Murray provides lectures, mental coaching, and sport psychology services to athletes and teams in many sports. He has helped NFL players. He authored "Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game," endorsed by Lindsay Davenport, and Vincent Spadea credited Murray for helping him overcome the longest losing streak in tennis history. Dr. Murray just returned from the Australian Open where he was the official coach of Vincent Spadea who got his first win in eight years of this tournament.
Dr. Murray is available for interviews.