Monday, January 16, 2012

NFL Division Pick Results

It's been a football cliché for a long time that, especially in the playoffs, you have to win the turnover battle. The reality behind the cliché was hammered home with a vengeance in three of the four games this weekend.

Winning team in bold.

Broncos @ Patriots (APR, SRS, Line)
Like last year's Seahawks, the Broncos were easily the weakest division winner, but managed to pull out a home upset win in the Wild Card round. And like last year, they looked a lot more like their record in the Divisional round.
It may have been the competition (or the lack thereof), but the Patriots defense looked as good in this game as they have all season. The Broncos only had two drives longer than 35 yards, both of them well into garbage time. Meanwhile, the Patriots offense did what they've done most of the season—scored early and often. They put this game away early, and should be well rested for next week.
Saints (APR, SRS, Line) @ 49ers
The 49ers have made a living this season playing very good defense, including producing more turnovers (38) than any other team in the league.
As I observed in the power rankings, losing the turnover battle is a recipe for losing in the playoffs. It's remarkable the Saints were able to come back with a late lead, and only lost because the 49ers were able to drive for an answering score. If the Saints had held on, it would have been just the second time in the playoffs a team had a -4 turnover margin, and still won.
Texans @ Ravens (APR, SRS, Line)
The Texans, as much as any team this weekend, have to be wondering what might have been. They played the Ravens close for the whole game, and had a chance for a tying touchdown in the final minute of the game. If T.J. Yates hadn't been intercepted 3 times, they would've had a real chance to win the game.
As for the Ravens, their defense did what it needed to do—produce turnovers and keep the Texans out of the end zone. But it's not a good sign that their offense was only able to score 20 points, even with 4 extra chances at the ball.
Giants @ Packers (APR, SRS, Line)
This was a shocking display of offensive ineptitude on the part of the Packers. The last time they lost 3 fumbles in a game was more than four years ago (The last time they lost 3 fumbles and won was more than 14 years ago).
The Packers' defense was its usual self: they gave up a lot of yards and some big plays. But in spite of all the dropped passes, lost fumbles, and the Hail Mary touchdown, this was just a 7-point game going into the 4th quarter. By no means out of reach for one of the highest-scoring offenses this season.
But that offense was never able to break out of its doldrums. A failed 4th-down conversion, followed by a third lost fumble was the back-breaker.
To be fair to the Giants, they played well, overcome some adversity of their own (including getting denied on a challenge they really should've won), and took full advantage of the opportunities that came their way. In spite of their unimpressive regular season record, they certainly looked like a force to be reckoned with on Sunday.


APR 2-24-450.0%
SRS 2-24-450.0%