Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Your weekend viewing plans (all times Eastern): SATURDAY: Indianapolis at Kansas City, 4:35 p.m.; Dallas at L.A. Rams, 8:15 p.m. SUNDAY: L.A. Chargers at New England, 1:05 p.m.; Philadelphia at New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. Win or go home. Use this thread to discuss them all.


192 comments, Last at 15 Jan 2019, 5:18am

1 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Picks are in:

Clots at Chefs: 35-42. Mahomes turn the tide for KC.
Cowbous at Mars: 20-28. The defensive MVP will abuse Cowbous OL.
Chargees at Pates: do not compute. I watched highlights of last year's bout and it was more close than I remembered. It will be something like the NE-KC divisional in 2015.
Eags at Sanities: 17-35. Come on. For the n-th time, let's say together: Foles PO's run is unsustainable.

6 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

My picks are:
IND over KC (I'm pulling for the team that has an actual defense and an experienced QB. Yes, Mahomes is amazingly good, and he'll probably make me sorry)
LAR over DAL (Seems like a no brainer at this point)
NE over LAC (I had to give NE the edge after some thought)
NO over PHI (Nope, no kind of miracle against the Saints this year)

7 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

When was the last time that all four home teams won in the divisional round? Was it 2004? This year it's hard to pick an upset. The NFC's top seeds seem more fragile, but so do their opponents.

The opportunity for a rematch of this year's superbowl in the next regular season is already very low. With both North divisions out of the playoffs, it's down to the Pats vs one of the NFC East teams or the Saints vs the Colts. Those have to be among the least likely superbowl pairings. It means we'll only get rematches of 24 previous superbowls in the 2019 season, a fraction below the 2015 offering in percentage terms.

8 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

I think the pick for a home team to be upset would obviously be the Patriots. They are the one that's actually inferior to the opposition, even if being at home means they are still favorites. Chiefs are moderately better than the Colts, while the NFC home teams are way ahead of their mediocre opposition. But, in a single game elimination tournament, anything can happen. We could have Colts-Cowboys in the Super Bowl.

11 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion


Cloys 33, Chiefs 27
Rams 27, Cowbosy 19
Pates 30, Chargers 20
Saints 31, Eaglea 24

Not surprisinf if all these are wrong. Chiefs vs clota should be close.

14 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

So if you're Andy Reid and win the coin toss, do you buck the common wisdom and elect to receive, try to get the early lead and hope that your defense can do enough to hold on in a shootout?

15 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

no one's taken the Cows (and I won't either), which strikes me as odd. Rams seem particularly vulnerable (and especially to the strengths of this opponent), so, while I wouldn't be shocked for the home team to figure it out and win by 20+, I can easily see an upset. Gut feeling says the Colts win (though I'd rather be wrong (Mahomes is more fun to watch than peak-Rodgers). Colts seem fundamentally sound, and better on the lines (though the tissue soft schedule gives me pause) , and maybe better-coached. Hope I'm wrong

20 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

1st Luck batted pass: KC lineman gets away with hands to the face. One of the most inconsistently called penalties in the league. Line play must be really tough to see at field level.

21 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Mahomes takes a jog to his right, looks downfield, then tosses to his left to Hill for a 1st down. Yeah, he's a run-first quarterback.

24 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Mahomes slides out of pressure again, runs forward, looks right, then throws another cross-body strike to Kelce for a 1st down. Yeah, he's just another run-first guy who will be exposed in the playoffs, according to one payaso.

25 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Colts should maybe consider going for this 4th down. Yes, it's early and you are on your own side of the field, but you are already down by 17 and are clearly going to need to score a lot of points to win this. Plus it's short yardage.

30 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

I wish the TV coverage would show how the Chiefs receivers are getting so wide open. Seeing a QB making throws that I could apparently make is BOOORING!

35 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

On the replay, it appeared as if the holder had the ball spotted almost on his own foot. Did anyone else see that? Or is that how Vinatieri likes it?

39 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

OMFG the Key & Pelle thing literally just happened! I don't know how to feel about this…

38 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

That may have been the stupidest penalty I've seen in a while. Why exactly do you go up to the referee to feign a lap dance?

SEC schedules in November are an insult to the game.

49 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

I was bullish on Jones impact in this game and he has been a force.

On the other side the Colts twin 1techs are no match for the technical prowess of KCs OL and the LBs are totally getting washed out of the plays.

I think the Colts' biggest successes, like many teams (Rams and Saints also IMO), were so tied to playing poor teams but they just don't have the horses to play with teams like KC. Maybe only the Chargers do or if the Saints/Rams clean things up.

60 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

The Chiefs have some good pass rushers. They had a bye week, then almost nothing to do in the first half tonight, so were clearly rested and fresh when called upon in the second half.

I'm harder pressed to explain why the Colts were unable to run the ball early. But they ran so few plays in the first half it is impossible to draw conclusions. Luck was a little off all night. Possibly the weather.

59 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Ok, if the Cowboys are hoping they can win this game, they need to do something rare and find a way to limit the Rams runs consistently. Gurley is basically on a Mack truck and going through them. And C.J. Anderson is on a SUV for when he spells Gurley.

65 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

It was the decisiveness with which he stated it that was hilarious. Normally you'd expect "I don't know about this call Joe, it's awful early in the game, blah blah". But here he flat out rubbished it, then seconds later, wham!, Elliot up the middle for 5 yards. Poetic.

69 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Fun sequence where the definitely not tackled Prescott escaped a sack and ran into the officials whistling to end the play.

73 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

The Rams being held to field goals a few times is the only thing allowing the Cowboys to retain a small foothold in this game.

78 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Cowboys ran into a wall on 4th down (I don't get why you move your lead blocker and put him as a wing when you run up the middle). And Elliot got the ball ripped out of him about 4 seconds after he stopped moving.

81 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

You should go for two now rather than wait, although with this amount of time left on the clock it doesn't matter much.

88 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

love that Pederson went for 2 when they cut it from 14 to 8 earlier this year (minnesota game), but I don't think they'll ever "learn" this one- they want to give their team the illusion that they're still in the game for as long as possible if their only goal is to tie the game, not to win in regulation

87 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Missing the 2 point play, be it before the 2:11 or with 30 seconds on the clock, near ends the game. Both mean you have to somehow, someway pull off 2 drives, 1 a TD, 1 a FG at least. Doing it with 2:11 means you need 2 stops (Well, a stop and an onside kick, with so limited time and no timeouts means that the opponent just kneels). Doing it with 30 seconds means you NEED the onside kick. Both require a drive in a 20-30 second span (You still need to score if you go for 2 at 2:11 and miss right? That will burn clock), nigh impossible. If there were 4 or more mins in the clock, sure go for 2. With so limited time, might as well make the 2 point play the last play and don't have to rely on miracles before you really need them at all.

91 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

1) For Indy's front line to "handle" Houston's D line so well THEN look
inept against KC-Luck had zero time
2) I knew Mahomes would make some rookie mistakes (throws I couldn't
believe he tried) but he played his first playoff game better than I
expected..I *still* think he'll make a ton of mistakes in AFC championship
round (if they blitz him/pressure him more) (NE will/Chargers might not)
3) KC front line held up well
4) Rams ran more than expected
5) Rams D played fair, thought they would've held 'boys to less points, especially
wi/Phillips-revenge factor

93 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

If you are surprised that the soon-to-be MVP of the league, in command of one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history, managed to make some plays and score some points against a mediocre defense, well then yeah, I'm not sure there's much that won't surprise you.

I'll grant you that the Colts overall ineffectiveness on offense was indeed a surprise. The reasons are no doubt multi-variable, but a well-rested group of pass rushers facing an QB/offense unaccustomed to operating outdoors in bad weather seems a decent place to start.

187 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Either NE or winner or NO/Rams game *will* dbl-blitz the
A and/or B gaps & this MVP will evaporate into thin air.

Right now that'll be met by hoots & hollars but after the
game we might want to revisit.

I'll acknowledge being an idjit if I'm proven wrong.
He made a high # of throws in that game that will
cause a loss...its just that Indy's OL was inept for
some reason/so that they couldn't score plus
Indy didn't all out blitz him until late in the game/too late.

We shall see.

92 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

It really feels like we are now well past the tipping point w.r.t. coaches going for it on 4th down in the most obvious situations. Previously conservative decision makers like Reid and Garrett are now doing it as a matter of course, with little opposition from announcers/pundits (save for numbskulls like Aikman).

In actual fact, I've noticed Reid being almost too aggressive at times recently, shunning the (virtually) guaranteed points from kicking when his team already has a commanding lead, and low-variance would appear to be the smart play. Still, his approach is certainly consistent with the strengths/weaknesses of his team, so I cannot be too critical.

The next frontier will surely be coaches going for it on 4th & short on their own side of the field. Also, more thought/creativity being put into 3rd down play-calling, knowing that a 4th down attempt is a given. A run on 3rd and medium against a defense expecting ~100% pass could be highly effective, but is still seldom seen.

96 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Watching the Chiefs play with a lead in the 4th quarter is near heart attack-provoking. If Reid had ever taken a course in game theory, probability and statistics, history would have been altered over the past 20 years. Snapping the ball with 12 seconds left on the play clock up 17 with 9 minutes to go is ridiculous. Hard to believe none of his star protegees ever suggested offhand this shortcoming. The style of maintaining an attack with a big lead has its merits but bleeding the clock is paramount. The inverse effect is what happened during both of his losses to BB in the postseason: consuming too much clock on the drive to get the first TD while down two scores. In the superbowl BB called up to his assistants to make sure the scoreboard was correct that they were in fact up 10 points and not the opposite during the Eagles long scoring drive.