NFL Efficiency Ratings- Divisional Round Predictions
The predictions went 2-2 last week with the Seahawks and luckily the Jets being a loss. Most of the games were much higher scoring than expected so lets see what happens this week.
Seattle Seahawks (30th Overall, 24th Scoring, 30th Defense, 31st Overall Away) vs. Chicago Bears (11th Overall, 20th Scoring, 3rd Defense, 18th Overall Home)
Everything broke right for the Bears who were lucky enough to catch the Seahawks this week. Somehow everyone is pointing to the Seattle win as some type of validation for them being in the playoffs, but really it is more about a Saints team that was not as good as most thought and came into the game looking ahead. Can you make a case for the Seahawks on the road? Their one chance in the game is the fact that the Bears actually are being outscored at home this season. So if the Bears play their typical style it means they will let the Seahawks hang around and in the NFL sometimes that is all you need for the upset. That' s the one hope. Realistically it' s a big long shot. The Seahawks lose by almost 13 points a game on the road and are often not even competitive. Even the Bears playing down to Seattle might mean Seattle is going to be down by 10 points in the 4th quarter. It is very hard to see the Bears not in the championship game. This should be somewhere in the ballpark of 30-17 for the Bears.
Baltimore Ravens (8th Overall, 16th Scoring, 4th Defense, 5th Overall Away) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (3rd Overall, 8th Scoring, 2nd Defense, 4th Overall Home)
Everyone loves rivalry games and this is the hardest hitting of those rivalry games. Baltimore beat up the Chiefs last week, in much easier fashion than the numbers said they should. They completely wiped out the Chiefs home field in the second half and had the Chiefs playing as they on the road. That' s a great sign for the Ravens. The Ravens are actually a better road team than home team this season, something that never happens with that franchise. They are holding opponents to about 5.5 points below their home scoring average which is excellent and the best in the AFC. The Steelers hold a great home field where they are holding teams to nearly 8 points a game below the average. Thatís a sizeable advantage. Though the Chiefs also had a sold home defense their offense was far below average even at home and a team like the Steelers would be up by more points early and never let the game get out of control like the Chiefs allowed their game to be. The bottom line is that the Steelers are the better team and their defense should be expected to get the win. Call it 19-13.
Green Bay Packers (2nd Overall, 6th Scoring, 1st Defense, 6th Overall Away) vs. Atlanta Falcons (4th Overall, 3rd Scoring, 8th Defense, 6th Overall Home)
Great game where the winner will be favored to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The biggest difference between these two teams is defense. The Falcons are an above average defense but the Packers are an elite level defense. Both are competent offensive teams though the Packers offense at times has had problems on the road. The big question here is whether the Falcons strong home field overcome the fact that the Packers are a better team. On a neutral field there is no question Green Bay would win. In the dome the Falcons are outscoring teams by more than 9 points a game. That is a hard margin to overcome, especially if the Packers offense does not come to play. If they do well like they did last week the Packers should pull off the very mild upset and advance to meet Chicago in the Championship game. If they play to their seasonal norms expect them to lose late by a score of something like 20-17. The outcome of this game is going to be based on how Green Bay plays much moreso than Atlanta.
New York Jets (6th Overall, 12th Scoring, 5th Defense, 16th Overall Away) vs. New England Patriots (1st Overall, 1st Scoring, 11th Defense, 1st Overall Home)
I said last weeks game would be close between the Jets and Colts, and, like the Packers are this week, that the Jets were the better neutral field team so its not a big surprise they won, but this is a different beast entirely. The Jets are not a good road team, despite the big wins in the last few weeks and play below average on defense. New England is dominant, especially offensively. For the Jets to win they have to play defense as well as they do at home and hope the Patriots offense has one of those off days that they had in Cleveland or versus the Packers when they kind of overlooked their opponents. Defensively the Patriots are not great, but they are capable of great games. They balance out nicely with the Jets offense which also is not great but has had some great outputs during the year. If the Jets have high while the Pats have a low the Jets can win. Most likely, though, this should be a game where the better team simply pulls away and probably is never threatened in the second half. If the two teams play to form the final score should be around 34-24 in favor of the Patriots.
I'm still in shock the Jets won.
For all their faults and mistakes during the season, reaching the championship is a hell of a achievement, especially 2 years in a row.