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23 Jan 2017

Conference Championship Quick Reads/DVOA Ratings

by Vincent Verhei

At some point during the later stages of New England's win over Pittsburgh, Alessandro Miglio of Football Guys summarized this year's NFL playoffs in the following Tweet:

Blowout
Blowout
Blowout
Blowout
Blowout
Blowout
Finally a close game
The winner didn't score a touchdown
Blowout
Blowout

And he's not wrong. There is little question that Green Bay's 34-31 win over Dallas in the divisional round was the best playoff game this year. And Pittsburgh's 18-16 divisional win over Kansas City was dramatic with a tight finish, if not particularly well played. Otherwise? Ugh. Following Atlanta's 44-21 beatdown of Green Bay and New England's 36-17 thrashing of Pittsburgh (neither of which felt as close as the final score would indicate), we're left with eight of 10 playoff games so far being decided by a final margin of at least 13 points, and six decided by at least 18 points.

It's easy to complain about the lack of excitement -- we have done plenty of that ourselves -- but have this year's playoffs really been that bad? Or is this kind of scoring pattern typical, and we have failed to realize it because we only remember the good games from prior seasons?

To find out, we checked the final score of every NFL playoff game since the merger with the AFL in 1970. We then sorted each playoff game into one of four categories:

  • Super Close: Any game decided by three points or less, or that went into overtime.
  • Close: Any game decided by four to seven points.
  • Two-Score: Any game decided by eight to 14 points.
  • Blowout: Any game decided by 15 points or more.

(It's worth mentioning that final margins aren't the be-all and end-all when it comes to measuring close games. Last year, Carolina beat Seattle 31-24 in what sounds like a thriller -- until you remember that Carolina led 31-0 at halftime, and Seattle's failed onside kick attempt with 1:12 to go was the only play in the second half with any kind of drama. And games can go the other way too, with last-minute defensive scores inflating final margins and making razor-thin wins look more comfortable than they really were. In the interest of simplicity and time, though, we're going to have to stick with final margins as our barometer of close games today.)

With one game to go in this year's playoffs, we have seen two games finish as Super-Close (DAL-GB and PIT-KC), one as Two-Score (Houston's 27-14 win over Oakland in the wild-card round), and seven Blowouts. However, we must use percentages when comparing this year to years past, because the number of playoff games per season has changed over time. There were only seven playoff games each season starting in 1970, a number that grew to nine in 1978 and then 11 in 1990. There were also 15 playoff games in the strike-shortened 1982 season.

So, 70 percent of this year's playoff games have been Blowouts, which is almost the all-time record. The 1992 playoffs are most remembered for Buffalo's record-setting comeback in a 41-38 win over the Oilers, but only one other game that postseason was decided by less than 10 points. Meanwhile, the Bills followed their comeback win with 21- and 19-point wins over Pittsburgh and Miami to get to the Super Bowl. On the other side of the league, the Cowboys beat the Eagles by 24 and then the 49ers by seven (excitement!) to reach the league's championship game, the first Super Bowl appearance for the Jimmy Johnson Dallas teams. And then once there, the Cowboys waffled the Bills, 52-17.

If this year's Atlanta-New England matchup is a Blowout, then the 2016 season will tie the 1992 playoffs as the most Blowout-heavy playoff field since the merger. If not, then instead it will tie the 2002 season for fourth place. In 2002, only two games qualified as Super Close: the Kelly Holcomb-Tommy Maddox shootout that I swear to you actually happened, and the 49ers overcoming a 38-14 deficit and surviving a blown field goal (and a controversial non-call) to win 39-38. Otherwise? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won three playoff games by a combined score of 106-37. That includes a 48-21 in the Super Bowl over Oakland -- which itself had won 30-10 and 41-24 to get that far.

One other season bears mention when it comes to lousy playoffs. 1973, the year the Miami Dolphins followed a perfect season with another Super Bowl championship, was the only time in 47 postseasons when there were no Super-Close games. And there was just one Close contest: Minnesota's 27-20 win over Washington. In the other six playoff games that year, the winning team scored at least 24 points, while the losing team scored 16 or fewer. Only 14 percent of playoff games that year were decided by seven points or less, a record that will stand no matter what happens between the Falcons and Patriots.

The year with the best playoff games? That would be 2003, a year with three overtime games and three others decided by field goals. Two of those field goals were kicked in the last minute of the game, including Adam Vinatieri's 41-yarder with nine seconds to go to win Super Bowl XXXVIII for New England over Carolina.

The good news is that the 2016 playoffs have been an outlier. Fourty-two percent of all playoff games since the 1970s were decided by seven points or less. That number then hovered between 35 and 39 percent for each of the next three decades, but has climbed to 50 percent since 2010. So in the big picture, we are actually seeing more close games than ever before, not less.

Finally, here's a big table full of numbers for you to pore over and analyze yourself. Feel free to share any findings in the comments. Hopefully we won't see another Blowout this year, and we'll all get to enjoy a Super Close game.


Year-By-Year Playoff Results, 1970-2016
Year Playoff Games Super Close Close Two-score Blowout
1970 7 2 3 1 1
1971 7 1 1 2 3
1972 7 1 4 1 1
1973 7 -- 1 1 5
1974 7 1 1 3 2
1975 7 2 2 1 2
1976 7 2 -- 1 4
1977 7 2 1 1 3
1978 9 1 2 1 5
1979 9 2 2 4 1
Year Playoff Games Super Close Close Two-score Blowout
1980 9 2 2 1 4
1981 9 2 4 1 2
1982 15 2 1 6 6
1983 9 2 2 -- 5
1984 9 1 3 1 4
1985 9 1 1 2 5
1986 9 2 1 2 4
1987 9 1 3 1 4
1988 9 1 2 4 2
1989 9 3 1 1 4
Year Playoff Games Super Close Close Two-score Blowout
1990 11 3 -- 4 4
1991 11 2 4 1 4
1992 11 1 1 1 8
1993 11 1 3 2 5
1994 11 1 3 2 5
1995 11 1 1 3 6
1996 11 2 -- 4 5
1997 11 3 2 4 2
1998 11 3 1 3 4
1999 11 3 3 2 3
Year Playoff Games Super Close Close Two-score Blowout
2000 11 2 -- 3 6
2001 11 2 2 3 4
2002 11 3 -- 1 7
2003 11 6 1 2 2
2004 11 3 1 3 4
2005 11 1 1 5 4
2006 11 5 1 2 3
2007 11 3 2 4 2
2008 11 2 3 4 2
2009 11 3 -- 3 5
Year Playoff Games Super Close Close Two-score Blowout
2010 11 1 7 1 2
2011 11 3 3 -- 5
2012 11 3 2 4 2
2013 11 3 2 3 3
2014 11 1 4 4 2
2015 11 4 3 1 3
2016 10 2 -- 1 7
Super Close: Any game decided by three points or less, or that went into overtime.
Close: Any game decided by four to seven points.
Two-Score: Any game decided by eight to 14 points.
Blowout: Any game decided by 15 points or more.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Matt Ryan ATL
27/38
392
4
0
0
257
260
-4
GB
Ryan made the most of his 27 completions, that's for sure. Twenty-two of them went for first downs, while only two were considered failed completions -- a 4-yard gain on second-and-10, and an 8-yard gain on third-and-10. Three separate times in this game, he picked up first downs on three-plus consecutive dropbacks. That includes this stretch from the end of the second quarter to the start of the third: 5-yard touchdown pass; 73-yard touchdown pass; 23-yard gain; 18-yard DPI on third-and-1; 4-yard touchdown on third-and-goal to put the game on ice. He threw 11 passes to receivers within 4 yards of the line of scrimmage and completed all of them. That's not hugely impressive at such short range, but those 11 completions gained 104 yards and eight first downs.
2.
Tom Brady NE
32/41
384
3
0
2
217
215
1
PIT
This is kinda cherry-picking, but it's still impressive: between his own 40-yard line and the Pittsburgh 30, Brady went 8-of-8 for 173 yards and a touchdown. Seven of those completions picked up first downs; the other was a 4-yard gain on first-and-10. Throwing to his right, he went 11-of-12 for 113 yards.
3.
Aaron Rodgers GB
27/45
287
3
1
2
99
87
13
ATL
Remember when we talked about Matt Ryan's hot stretch over the second and third quarters? At about the same time, Rodgers went 0-for-7 with an interception and a sack. Most of his production came in garbage time. Once Green Bay fell behind by 30 points or more, he went 15-of-25 for 168 yards, with one 17-yard DPI, 13 first downs (including all three touchdowns), and one sack. Before that, he had gone 12-of-20 for 119 yards with six first downs, one interception, and one sack.
4.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
31/47
316
1
1
0
73
73
0
NE
Roethlisberger didn't have a lot of negative plays, but he failed to produce in scoring range and to produce big plays. Inside the New England 25-yard line, Roethlisberger went 5-of-10 for 43 yards with only two first downs, neither of them touchdowns. Only two of his completions gained 20 or more yards, and they both came in the second half with Pittsburgh down by 24 points or more. On deep balls, he went 3-of-10 for 79 yards and an interception.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
DeAngelo Williams PIT
14
34
1
7/7
51
0
33
2
32
NE
No, it was not a big week for running backs. Williams' longest run gained just 15 yards, and that was his only run that gained more than 5 yards. He had three first downs on the ground, while getting hit for no gain or a loss three times. However, each of his receptions gained at least 3 yards, seven were successful plays, and four went for first downs.
2.
Tevin Coleman ATL
11
29
1
3/3
35
0
20
6
14
GB
Only three first downs on the ground, only one run longer than 4 yards (a 10-yarder), and two hits for no gain or a loss. But he had catches that gained 10 and 17 yards.
3.
Devonta Freeman ATL
14
42
0
4/5
42
1
17
-13
30
GB
Only two first downs on the ground, no run longer than 14 yards, and five (!) hits for no gain or a loss. But he had catches that gained 10 and 17 yards. But all four of his receptions were successful plays, including gains of 11 and 19 yards in addition to his 4-yard touchdown.
4.
LeGarrette Blount NE
16
47
1
1/1
8
0
16
11
5
PIT
Six first downs on the ground, which is like Jim Brown at his peak by this week's standards. But five hits for no gain or a loss.
5.
Le'Veon Bell PIT
6
20
0
0/0
0
0
6
6
0
NE
Yes, Bell makes the tables on only six rushes and no targets. And he had no first downs, and only two successful runs! I realize there were only four teams playing, but come on, guys.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
LeGarrette Blount NE
16
47
1
1/1
8
0
16
11
5
PIT
2.
Le'Veon Bell PIT
6
20
0
0/0
0
0
6
6
0
NE
3.
Tevin Coleman ATL
11
29
1
3/3
35
0
20
6
14
GB
4.
Ty Montgomery GB
3
17
0
1/3
2
0
-11
4
-15
ATL
Gains of 4 and 3 yards on first-and-10, and a 10-yard gain on second-and-10. His one catch was a 2-yard gain on first-and-10.
5.
DeAngelo Williams PIT
14
34
1
7/7
51
0
33
2
32
NE


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Christine Michael GB
6
11
0
1/2
3
0
-16
-10
-7
ATL
One first down, which came on his longest run of the day, a 6-yarder. He was also hit for a loss twice. His one catch was a 3-yard gain on second-and-7.


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Aaron Ripkowski GB
3
11
0
2/3
28
0
-13
-24
11
ATL
Three carries, in order: a 12-yard gain and a fumble; a 3-yard gain on first-and-10; a 4-yard loss on second-and-goal at the 3. At least he had catches for 20 and 8 yards.


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Chris Hogan NE
9
12
180
20.0
2
93
PIT
Yes, Hogan and Julio Jones put up identical raw statlines. Hogan finishes higher because he played a much better defense, and because he had more big catches. He gained 20 or more yards five times, while Jones "only" had three. Hogan also had three third-down conversions.
2.
Julio Jones ATL
9
12
180
20.0
2
74
GB
As mentioned, Chris Hogan had more big plays than Jones, whose totals are skewed by one 73-yard play. Jones did pick up four first downs on his five third-down targets, though, gaining 43 yards in the process.
3.
Julian Edelman NE
8
10
118
14.8
1
61
PIT
Edelman's longest play was a 41-yarder on first down, but most of his value came on third downs, where he caught 3-of-4 passes for 39 yards and three conversions.
4.
Mohamed Sanu ATL
5
7
52
10.4
1
29
GB
Sanu's DYAR total includes 23 DYAR receiving and 6 DYAR rushing for his one carry for 7 yards. All of his catches led to first downs, including two third-down conversions.
5.
Jordy Nelson GB
6
9
67
11.2
1
28
ATL
Nelson's first two targets went for 42 yards and two first downs, and his last target was a 3-yard touchdown. In between, he had three catches in six targets for 22 yards and no first downs.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Aldrick Robinson ATL
0
3
0
0.0
0
-24
GB
While no running backs had good days this week, no wide receivers really had bad ones. So the "worst" award goes to a guy who didn't get many opportunities on a team that obviously didn't need him.

Conference Championship DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

As usual after the Conference Championship games, we're not going to bother with the full 32-team table of weighted DVOA ratings, since there are only two teams left and most teams haven't played for three weeks. So we decided to just add a quick look at both teams to the bottom of today's Quick Reads article.

If we include all the postseason games, the Patriots are No. 1 and the Falcons are No. 2 in both weighted DVOA and total DVOA. Of course, total DVOA includes the four games when Tom Brady was suspended, so the Patriots have a much larger advantage in weighted DVOA.

In weighted DVOA, the Patriots are now at 40.8%. That can be split into 24.3% offense (3), -11.0% defense (6), and 5.5% special teams (5).

The Falcons are now at 24.2%. That can be split into 28.1% offense (1), 4.2% defense (22), and 0.3% special teams (17).

In total DVOA, the Patriots are now at 29.5%. That's split into 21.9% offense (2), -3.7% defense (12), and 3.8% special teams (7).

The Falcons are now at 21.5%. That's split into 26.6% offense (1), 6.8% defense (25), and 1.8% special teams (9).

You've read a lot about how the Falcons defense has been much better in recent weeks. That's true. The problem for Atlanta is that the exact same thing is true of the Patriots defense, except the Patriots defense has been better than the Falcons defense not only in the last few weeks but also in the weeks before that. Here are the defensive DVOA ratings for the two teams split into four simple five-week periods:

Atlanta/New England Defensive DVOA by Week, 2016
Weeks Atlanta
Defensive DVOA
New England
Defensive DVOA
Weeks 1-5 11.4% 7.7%
Weeks 6-10 10.6% 0.8%
Weeks 11-15 16.0% -5.9%
Weeks 16-20 -11.6% -20.4%

One reason for the gap between the Patriots and the Falcons is that DVOA rated the Patriots' performance much higher than the Falcons' performance yesterday. Here are the ratings for the Conference Championship games:


DVOA (with opponent adjustments)
TEAM TOT OFF DEF ST
GB -35% -1% 28% -7%
ATL 25% 25% 1% 2%
PIT -21% -3% 17% -1%
NE 58% 43% -10% 5%
VOA (no opponent adjustments)
TEAM TOT OFF DEF ST
GB -59% 1% 52% -7%
ATL 16% 25% 11% 2%
PIT -43% -5% 37% -1%
NE 44% 38% -2% 5%

Why did the Patriots rate so much better than the Falcons when the two teams won by similar margins? Some of the secret can be found in the VOA ratings without opponent adjustments. You may notice there's a huge gap between Atlanta's offense and Green Bay's defense. We don't normally see that in the non-adjusted ratings. The reason is four different plays that come out as negative for the Falcons offense with no DVOA effect for Green Bay: two false starts by Andy Levitre and two botched snaps, both recovered by the Falcons. Throw in the Aaron Ripkowski fumble, and the Falcons went 3-for-3 on fumble recoveries. They also get no credit in DVOA for the missed Mason Crosby field goal, and they were surprisingly poor running the ball aginst the Packers, averaging just 2.4 yards per carry on running back carries in the first half before they were even running out the clock.

Roster data should be updated for the conference championships later tonight. Playoff Challenge teams will also be updated later tonight. We're sorry there's no entry for that on the drop-down menus above, we'll make sure to add that too.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 23 Jan 2017

57 comments, Last at 27 Jan 2017, 10:41am by SandyRiver

Comments

1
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 5:25pm

Quick note, when you described the 2002 playoffs being bad, you missed the other super-close game, Tennessee's 34-31 OT win over Pittsburgh in the Divisional Round. This was rightly marked in the table.

7
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 7:08pm

IIRC, that was the game where the Titan's kicker (Rob Bironas, I think?), basically admitted after the game that he took a dive to draw a roughing the kicker penalty, that led to his game-winning field goal.

8
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 7:10pm

That was the game where the Titan's kicker basically admitted after the game that he took a dive to draw a roughing the kicker penalty. This led to a much easier game winning field goal.

23
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 5:47am

Seem to recall Joe Nedney suffered an actual knee injury the following season in a game against the Raiders. Happened during a kickoff return trying to make a tackle. Some would call that karma.

2
by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 5:38pm

Additionally with this year's playoffs, 9 out of the 10 games have seen a team trail by at least 18 points at some time in the game, and 7 out of the 10 games have had zero lead changes.

3
by RickD :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 5:39pm

The opponent adjustments that help the Falcons' DVOA scores are probably overkind, given how many injuries the Packers had.

4
by langsty :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 5:46pm

The Packers actually have one of the lowest #s of players on IR in the league. Meanwhile the Falcons' 3 best defenders and starting TE were on IR. Nice try.

6
by MC2 :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 6:20pm

While I don't think Vic Beasley is as good as his sack total would indicate, it's a stretch to say that he's not one of the Falcons' 3 best defensive players, isn't it?

21
by RickD :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 2:16am

One doesn't ordinarily put players on the IR in the middle of a playoff game.

The Packers had 15 players on the injury report going into the game and lost six more players during the game. They used a nose tackle on offense during the last series. Jordy Nelson played nearly 50 snaps with broken ribs. Davante Adams tried to play through an injured ankle but was ineffective.

If you think the Packers should also get an adjustment due to the lost of Falcons' defenders, that's fine with me. The point is that there were so many injuries on the Packers' side that it doesn't make sense to use an unadjusted season-long value for the strength of the Packers to represent the team that was actually on the field yesterday.

5
by Steve in WI :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 6:10pm

Playing devil's advocate, there's something to be said for a playoff season like this one. True, there are very few games where the outcome is in question in the 4th quarter or even the 2nd half, but there are also very few games where one can argue that the better team lost.

26
by RBroPF :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 10:58am

Whether or not you think that's a good thing depends on whether you're a fan of a true contender or a team like the Giants hoping to turn a few miracles into a title.

9
by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 7:48pm

Question for those who know more about the game than I.... how much of NE's lack of a pass rush should be attributed to their focus on DL gap integrity? Would that have been less of an issue after Bell went out? Is there some reason NE would have maintained that approach later in the game and on obvious passing downs?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

12
by PaddyPat :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 8:22pm

My first thought on this one is that gap integrity is a consistent point of emphasis for Belichick, and that his defensive philosophy and approach downplays the importance of sacks. Even when the Patriots have had strong pass rushers in the past, they often prefer that those players focus on setting the edge and maintaining position. Later in the game, it seemed to me that New England was playing a fair bit of two high with a prevent philosophy, perhaps even a little softer than I might have liked.

18
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 11:37pm

My perception watching a couple Steelers games is that they run a lot of screens, draws, and delayed handoffs (probably because Bell has such fantastic vision) - maintaining gap integrity makes all of these plays more difficult.

There were a couple of handoffs early to Bell where he got the ball and then the pocket just slowly collapsed around him.

13
by sbond101 :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 8:26pm

The Pats have benefitted greatly in the past few years by being one of the first teams to notice how much more effectively some quarterbacks see the field and compromise coverage through moving laterally outside the pocket on plays that aren't designed roll outs. I can think of four QB's who have gotten this treatment from the Pats in recent years (Rogers, Wilson, Big Ben & Tyrod Taylor). All these guys are really really good at using their lateral movement to make it hard for the corners to stay in the throwing lane between the QB and the receiver, and to some extent, use the threat of the run from out of the pocket to draw the secondary from their assignments. By keeping the QB between the hashmarks while giving up on getting after the sack, this gets taken away. If you watch each of these guys play, you'll notice after a while that 3/4 (Rogers being the notable exception) are at their best a bit above average throwing from between the hashmarks, but produce a ton of big plays when the pocket moves (even Rogers is way more deadly moving). The Pats game plan was to make Big Ben play like Brady does, because they know he's not very good at it (or at least a lot worse at it then he is outside the hashmarks).

25
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 5:57am

Indeed - very well written.

And throw in that a runner like Bell wants to see where the gaps opened up once defenders committed themselves, it made good sense for the d-line to play like statues!!

47
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 6:07pm

Thanks, I'm aware of NE's propensity for keeping mobile QBs in the pocket, I just didn't think that that style was warranted given Bell's injury, Ben's lack of mobility and the fact that the team was up big.

Reading your comment, though, prompted an idea that it may have been because NE felt the only way Pitt could have marched down quickly was with a broken chunk play, so I may have been too quick in disregarding it.

The point of all this was too see if there was a strategic reason in that specific match up for the lack of a pass rush or if it was simply Pitt controlling that aspect. If it is the latter, I have a hard time seeing NE holding Atlanta under 28.

10
by BearDown103 :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 8:05pm

Why is an 8-point margin considered a two-score game?

11
by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 8:14pm

A) For many of the seasons we're looking at, there were no two-point conversions.

B) I don't have time to run the numbers right now, but even in the two-point era, there is a big dropoff in win expectancy when going from a 7-point deficit to 8-points. As I recall, the bump from 7 to 8 was even bigger than the bump from 6 to 7. Two-pointers are essentially 50-50 propositions, so you're basically cutting win expectancy in half going from down 7 to down 8.

16
by jwsinclair :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 9:36pm

Not a hill I intend to die on, but I've argued before that an 8-point margin should be considered a two-possession game. The best you can do with one possession is tie. It'll still take at least one more possession (after a defensive stop and/or winning the OT coin toss) to win.

28
by RBroPF :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 11:20am

So a 7-point margin is a two-possession game for a conservative coach?

41
by jwsinclair :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 2:36pm

A coach who knows he's not going to go for two should probably think of it that way, at least.

51
by BearDown103 :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 8:18pm

If PAT's are 95% propositions, and q is the probability of scoring a TD with the opponent scoring nothing, win probability is 0.975q when down 6, 0.475q when down 7, and 0.25q when down 8. The increment from 7 to 8 is 0.235q, while that from 6 to 7 is 0.5q, which is larger.

27
by RBroPF :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 11:06am

Because it literally takes two scores to get 8 points. You have to get the ball across the goal line twice. It should properly be called a one-possession game though since it is possible to get both scores on one possession.

Technically, a 7 point margin could be called a two-score game, but the 95% success rate of PATs would make that sort of silly.

36
by ChrisS :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 1:20pm

Since there are no ties in the playoffs both 7 and 8 point margins are two-possession games, since with either deficit you need to score twice (TD+TD or TD+FG) to win. This ignores the possibility of going for the 2 point conversion when down by 1.

44
by RBroPF :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 4:33pm

Except that the whole point of thinking about how many possessions you need is to compare that to the amount of time left on the clock. If you can tie it, the possessions in overtime start with a new clock.

It's about the minimum number of possessions you'll need to not lose in regulation.

14
by medelste :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 8:37pm

What are we supposed to see when clicking the "Playoff Challenge teams" link? All I've ever seen each week is just a listing of the players on my team - not accumulated fantasy points or location in standings or anything else. Am I supposed to see more than that?

17
by surebrec :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 10:07pm

If you remember your team name, you can find how many points it has at

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/game/season-standings

and the most recent week's results at

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/game/weekly-standings

In the weekly standings, you can copy the web address in the link
to your team and change the last part to week=19 for the web address of the page where you can see the point total for the Divisional Round, week=18 for the Wild Card Round.

19
by medelste :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 11:55pm

You are kind

15
by poplar cove :: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 9:17pm

Thought this was sorta interesting-

I took a quick look and it looks like no team has ever won the Super Bowl before when they had played the easiest schedule in the NFL during the regular season (since 1989- DVOA era). Obviously New England can end that this year.

Not only did the Patriots play the easiest schedule this year, it looks like it was ranked the 2nd easiest that any team in the NFL has played in the last 6 years. And the one schedule that was ranked as easier than New England's this seaon.........last year's Super Bowl loser, the 2015 Carolina Panthers.

I could be off here also (I think I'm right), a team ranked as having a bottom 3 schedule for the season has lost in the Super Bowl 4 out of 5 times overall (since 1989 DVOA era) with the lone win being by the 1999 St. Louis Rams (ranking 31st schedule) and those five teams went 0-4-1 against the spread also (with St. Louis -7 getting the push).

24
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 5:53am

Well, pre-DVOA ... the 72 Dolphins ... they of the Perfect Season. They played the 5th easiest schedule of all-time for any team - playoff or otherwise.

Of course that is just based on the NFL's opponent's win-loss metric but still only two games against teams with winning records all season.

34
by rj1 :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 1:12pm

"Well, pre-DVOA..."

Any hope of adding the '88 season this coming offseason to the DVOA Era?

37
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 1:58pm

Plan is to debut 1988 next week, 1987 later in Feb, 1986 in March.

29
by RBroPF :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 11:21am

These notes are interesting, but are looking at fabulously small sample sizes if anyone is hoping to use them predictively.

Also, losing the SuperBowl requires winning at least two playoff games, so those teams apparently were actually pretty good.

Now as for how an easy schedule affects public perception, and therefore betting lines, that would be a really interesting (and possibly lucrative) study.

32
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 12:26pm

The sample sizes are so small as to be ridiculous.

We're talking 28 samples in a situation where there's probably a 1/20 chance of the event happening randomly (32 teams, but having the weakest schedule makes it slightly more likely you make the playoffs). We're not even close to being outside a normal distribution.

31
by PaddyPat :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 12:07pm

My first intuition on this one is that with such a veteran coaching staff and with some significant playoff experience on the roster, this is less likely to be an issue for the Patriots than it was for some of those other teams. Yes, it may reflect some inflated efficiency numbers for the team (despite adjustments) but I don't think they're going to have the big game meltdown under the lights. That said, it would be interesting to see exactly which teams were the other 3 losers, in addition to Carolina.

33
by Eddo :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 12:42pm

Actually, in the 1999 Rams did have the lowest-rated strength of schedule - there were only 31 teams in 1999.

22
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 5:41am

The Pats had the easiest schedule, by a good margin, however they actually played a fairly difficult defensive schedule (offensive schedule was off the charts bad). As bad as some of the QBs they played, the defenses they played seemed to be at the top of their games, including not missing key players.

30
by PirateFreedom :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 11:23am

all the other AFC east teams seem to primarily concentrate their drafting and free agency spending on elite defensive lineman to go after Brady.
I think they've given up on beating him and are now content to just hurt him as much as possible ;)

49
by Alternator :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 7:02pm

There's really three ways to beat the Patriots:

1) Pressure Brady without relying heavily on blitzes while maintaining good-enough coverage that he can't easily dump it off instantly until the defense backs off. Moreso than most teams, the Patriots running attack is built off the passing game, and Brady is simply too good to rely entirely on great coverage if the pressure isn't there. The Giants are the shining example here.

2) Have an equally great offense built around depth of options, and win a shootout. Belichick's ability to neutralize one offensive weapon is greatly lessened when the opponent has three or four that are excellent. The Manning Colts were built to do this.

3) Out-scheme Belichick, which mostly means taking him by surprise. This is hard to manage, but possible, with the Dolphins revealing the Wildcat being a good example.

Other than that, you're really hoping more for the Patriots to have an off game, either because of injuries or because they're having a down year. Since no other AFC East team has been able to sustain a great offense, then building for pressure makes a lot of sense.

52
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 11:07pm

Putting Wildcat aside, the best example of (3) I've seen was the 2010 Jets, who played a ton of zone on the Patriots and really confounded that offense.

As for (1) and (2), you pretty much summed it up well. All the teams to beat the Patriots in the playoffs probably fall into one of these categories.

However, one exception could be the 2011 Giants, who didn't have nearly the success on defense as the '07 unit did, but won by shortening the game, and getting some big chunk plays like the safety and the Blackburn pick.

54
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 01/25/2017 - 4:31am

The bad games I've seen the Patriots play have involved them dropping passes, Brady getting sacked, Brady throwing ints, fumbles and penalties.

Belichick is therefore very good at emphasising no penalties, no turnovers, acquiring receivers with sure hands, QBs who are accurate and scheming to avoid sacks ... plus no missed FGs or easy YAC.

Funny that!

55
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 01/25/2017 - 10:41am

No doubt! In all serious, Bill is known to say that you can't learn how to win until you learn how not to lose. So the joke is actually true. :)

35
by rj1 :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 1:14pm

While both teams can be high scoring, I'm so unplussed by this NFL postseason that I'm not that excited going into the game and half-expect a blowout.

38
by aces4me :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 2:12pm

If one of those defenses suffers a key injury or just has a bad quarter it could well be a blowout.

48
by nat :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 6:55pm

I'm so unplussed...
I don't think that meaning words what you think it words.

50
by Alternator :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 7:03pm

Does it really count as a blowout if it's 56-42, or something equally zany?

57
by SandyRiver :: Fri, 01/27/2017 - 10:41am

Sure, if it was 49-21 going into Q4. Of course, it also could be 35-35 at that point.

39
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 2:26pm

Noting that there wasn't a 50-yd rusher on any of the teams.

Did that ever happen before?

39
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 2:26pm

Noting that there wasn't a 50-yd rusher on any of the teams.

Did that ever happen before?

42
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 3:37pm

Not as far as I can tell. Here is a list of 50-yard rushers in the championship round. Looks like every year till now has at least one guy.

http://pfref.com/tiny/fy72w

43
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 4:09pm

This is a little surprising to me considering the blowouts, but not surprising in general - the modern passing game is significantly more effective than the running game, and the teams deep in the playoff are more likely to understand that (and be able to exploit it).

45
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 4:35pm

Traditionally in blowouts, teams run the ball to run the clock and their backs accumulate yardage that way.

I think a good chunk of Blount's 47-yd came in garbage time. The commentators were fawning over how he was dragging half the Steeler defense with him but I thought it was more the case they were trying to keep him upright and strip the ball.

Even so, most other years there's been at least three 50+ yd runners. 2006 is the only 'one back' year which is slightly surprising given the Steelers and Bettis were in the other game.

46
by Travis :: Tue, 01/24/2017 - 4:59pm

Another part of it is that both the Steelers' and Packers' starting running backs got injured. Not that Montgomery would have gotten to 50 yards anyway, but Bell very likely would have given the Steelers' one-back system.

Blount was at 7 carries, 2 yards late in the third quarter before that 18-yard run where he dragged all the defenders.

53
by mrt1212 :: Wed, 01/25/2017 - 2:31am

Suppose Seahawks need a non Earl Thomas DVOA?

Edit: Sorry that was reply to an above Packer's lament

56
by lauers :: Wed, 01/25/2017 - 2:48pm

Could the closeness of a game be determined by VOA? It would limit the number of seasons we could look at, but it could be a novel use of the metric. Not only do garbage time TDs make some blowouts look close, but sometimes a game is tight until the last 5 minutes when a final score puts the game away. This would seemingly call for a play-based metric, which is conveniently featured on this website!

Initial ideas: VOA differential or VOA of winning team