Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Shanahan-Cousins
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Here's our thread for open discussion during this weekend's divisional round games. Saturday we get Minnesota at San Francisco and then Tennessee at Baltimore. Sunday brings us Houston at Kansas City followed by Seattle at Green Bay.

Comments

299 comments, Last at 18 Jan 2020, 6:34pm

140 Crickets

"This is why they play the game! DVOA SUX!" guy sure got quiet...

155 I don't think they're saying…

I don't think they're saying anything other than that if that person was at all consistent in believing a single game can say anything about DVOA, they should be here cheering it on.

151 DVOA thinks special teams is…

In reply to by SFC B

DVOA thinks special teams is the Texans' best unit, so I'm not sure it can claim too much credit here...

146 Hate the squib kickoff

Imperative not to gift the receiving team free yards with so little time left

148 Houston has been pretty good…

Houston has been pretty good on offense and moved the ball well almost every drive. This is still a game. The Texans are going to have to way better on defense than they were in that second quarter, of course.

150 Same Game?

The Texans got 7 off a punt block and then another 7 off a short field following a muffed punt.  They haven't really moved the ball well and it's only close because of a couple freak ST plays.

152 And the Chiefs scored off…

In reply to by SFC B

And the Chiefs scored off short fields from a kick return fumble, a botched fake punt and a long kickoff return. I'd call the crazy special teams plays a wash.

154 Chiefs now have a ten point…

Chiefs now have a ten point lead. Texans better show something soon, or this game is over, considering how these teams have played.

157 I really like Reid's…

I really like Reid's decision to put Hill back in for another punt return. If they need to call on him again late in this game, or potentially in a future playoff game this year, I'm sure it helps Hill a bit to not have the muff weighing on his mind the next time he needs to field one.

158 Also, Frank Clark deserves…

Also, Frank Clark deserves extra kudos for the level of hustle on the sack that ended that last drive.

159 Everytime I glance at this…

Everytime I glance at this game, it seems Kelce is catching a pass. Maybe the Texans should cover him, yathink?

160 I bet a bunch of money on KC

then it looked like they were gonna lose bad. So I placed a big bet on Seatle to make up for loss. Now I'm sorry I did.

161 Still not over, but at this…

Still not over, but at this point it's going to take Houston forcing a few turnovers on defense and scoring a TD every drive on offense.

163 Caught the 1st quarter on…

Caught the 1st quarter on the go, saw the Texans go up 24-0, figured it was over.

Just got home. It wasn't!

I guess the new thing is, never count out Touchdown Patrick.

165 11:49 left, down 17, they…

11:49 left, down 17, they take the offense off the field on 4th down, and then they waste a timeout. Watson deserves a better coach.

167 Analytics karma is what I call the first game

O'Brien enraged the analytics gods by wasting a timeout and then kicking a FG, which was inexplicable.

You have to know what you're going to do. He cost his team equity by wasting a timeout and then cost them more equity by choosing to kick.

168 Houston repeatedly used the…

Houston repeatedly used the entire play clock on that last drive. Now KC players keep running out of bounds.

170 Houston is still huddling? I…

Houston is still huddling? I guess O'Brien saw Belichick's strategy of burning lots of clock down late in the Houston-NE game and decided that was the way to go.

173 So if the Dolphins hadn't…

So if the Dolphins hadn't pulled of a win that tied the biggest upset in 20 years, the AFC Championship Game matchup would have instead happened in the first round.

182 Weird

Good observation. Just another funny element of these weird playoffs!

174 So KC fans all know how…

So KC fans all know how offensive the tomahawk chant is but are choosing to do it anyway, right? I like the Chiefs football team but I'm not happy about them getting another home game.

175 The problem is that people…

The problem is that people think that because they've been doing it for a long time it's okay. It will take a while of people explaining why it's offensive before it can be phased out.
 

Until the Squirrels change their name the tomahawk chop isn't the worst thing in the NFL.

198 If the name change had…

If the name change had happened four decades years ago, when people understood the name was offensive, there would already be a long history for the new name, including that '91 team.

In other words, history - the only justification for the existing name - would by now be on the side of the new name had the franchise done the right thing in the '80s.

Stubbornness can be a tough characteristic to live with in a loved one, or a favourite franchise.

202 Great point about the…

Great point about the history.

And agreed about how difficult stubbornness can be! Seems relevant to this game, as well -- it's a feeling Seattle fans likely recognize very time they run the ball on an early down.

282 Maybe you care about the…

Maybe you should care about the white people in KC using racist stereotypes of indigenous people and the indigenous people who have asked them to stop.

https://web.archive.org/web/20161115041109/http://www.kshb.com/sports/football/chiefs/kansas-indigenous-group-asking-kansas-city-chiefs-fans-to-stop-the-tomahawk-chop

 

Of course since you used 'over-educated', I'm sure you're not interested in any kind of deeper understanding and are happy to continue disrespectful actions towards a historically marginalized group of people.

 

 

 

286 The overwhelming majority of…

The overwhelming majority of whom -- we're talking 90+% -- aren't actually offended.  This is entirely a case of activists -- who are, yes, almost exclusively urban white holders of degrees in social sciences; there is lots of polling data on this -- speaking on behalf of people they think are too dumb to know what's good for them.

 

But do go on jerking yourself off.

289 Here's a more succinct…

Here's a more succinct rebuttal to that poll you're referencing than I could make:  http://www.ncai.org/news/articles/2016/05/19/ncai-response-to-new-poll-on-r-skins-team-name

 

291 Maybe you should care about…

Maybe you should care about the white people in KC using racist stereotypes of indigenous people and the indigenous people who have asked them to stop.

Why?  The NFL is a business venture.  As long as their paying customers are happy, why should they care what a small group of non-customers think?

If a small group of Scandinavians started complaining about the Vikings' use of the "skol" chant, would you say the Vikings should bow to them?  More generally, are businesses obligated to change anything to which anyone objects?

Personally, I find the NFL's constant celebration of the military to be very distasteful.  I'm sure I could find a few people who agree with me.  If we petition the NFL to stop having any association with the military, are they obligated to do so?

295 There's a subjective line…

There's a subjective line between teams celebrating a particular culture and using offensive stereotypes from it. There are a number of teams that use imagery or names of indigenous people which are not subject to as much controversy because they're more respectful and in a number of cases have communication with the local indigenous groups.

 

I don't think that businesses will do anything other than focus on what makes the most money. Until the NFL has enough fans that find the military association distasteful it's not going to change. I think the considerations are different with racial issues though since minority groups generally won't have as much monetary power and we should be considerate of their objections.

297 This is a bad take...

The Chiefs have spoken to local Native Americans and they have come to the stadium and done a "blessing" (in 4 directions) for the players and the troops several times this year. The chant apparently doesn't offend them at all. I've been there and witnessed this, so don't think this is a problem. 

188 I think it depends on who…

I think it depends on who they replace him with. I thought Scangerello did a good job this year, but if they replace him with Pat Shurmur (as is rumored) I wouldn't complain. So I don't think a change was really necessary, but I'm willing to wait and see if the new guy does better.

180 Dumb call. It was a fumble…

Dumb call. It was a fumble and a Green Bay player came out with the ball.

181 Sure looks to me like that…

Sure looks to me like that should be Packers' ball. It's clearly a fumble, 39 is the first guy on it, and he has it at the end, how the hell is that not a clear recovery? Horsecrap.

183 Oh man, that Za'darius Smith…

Oh man, that Za'darius Smith "SNUBBED" shirt is 1) hilarious, but 2) reeeaaallllyyyyyy tempting the football gods.

184 I think the Packers were…

I think the Packers were pretty unlucky to not get that reversed, but great job by Pereira to tell us why that was likely to happen, right before it did.

186 So I'm pretty sure every NFL…

So I'm pretty sure every NFL broadcast this weekend used Rush for the music to transition to at least one commercial break.

RIP, Neil Peart.

298 Well, that's your opinion...

Neil's drum solos were actual songs, not just random pounding. I didn't think they needed to be 8 minutes long, but then again, the crowd never seemed to mind at the 17 shows I saw throughout their career. RIP Professor. 

191 I think few plays in…

I think few plays in football are prettier than when a QB is able to drop a ball right in the hole between the CB and safety in a cover-2 defense. That play from Wilson to Lockett was gorgeous.

197 Really trying not to whine…

Really trying not to whine about the officiating, but that was at least as deserving of a penalty as that Elgton Jenkins boop in the back. Come on. Pretty sure they missed a blatant Seattle block in the back on a punt return earlier too.

199 I assume this is referring…

I assume this is referring to the play by Wagner after stopping Jones; if so, I disagree. I initially thought Wagner deserved a flag, but when they showed the angle from the Seattle end zone, it sure looked like Jones flopped.

201 With Seattle as injured as…

With Seattle as injured as they are I have a hard time seeing them rally in this game. Their offense is showing nothing outside of one play.

204 As long as they're fixated…

As long as they're fixated on getting touches to formally retired and C tier depth chart guys , SEA's O is likely to continue to struggle. 

But if they fall behind enough, they'll be forced to pass more, and potentially become more dangerous at the same time.

They might even stop attempting 50+ yard Figgies and go for it on 4th down, though they'll likely need to be way behind by that point.

207 Oh god yeah. As a Packers…

Oh god yeah. As a Packers fan, I'm cheering every handoff and cringing every time Wilson looks to pass. And that FG was a big exhale, regardless of if they made it.

You'd think using 700 first round picks on DBs would get you at least one that could cover somebody.

216 It's weird, he was great for…

It's weird, he was great for the first 4 weeks or so, but now seems to get torched a couple of times a game. He also had that weird mugging of that guy far away from the play earlier (called a "Hold" and declined), which I guess isn't strictly-speaking a coverage failure, but still.

208 Fantastic call by Green Bay…

Fantastic call by Green Bay to run that Rodgers sneak. It broke against their tendencies, and if it failed, it would've left them with 4th-and-very-short. Instead, it succeeded, which meant that they could run some clock / milk Seattle's timeouts.

210 Titans-Ravens and Chiefs…

Titans-Ravens and Chiefs-Texans were both great games despite eventually being blowouts. This game is just an old fashioned boring blowout.

215 Snore

Seahawks involved in the least-interesting playoff games of back-to-back weekends.

240 Interesting

In reply to by Grendel13G

I take it back! Seahawks have made a game of it late.

211 I'm usually for aggressive…

I'm usually for aggressive coaching decisions, but think playing for a field goal, rather than try a Hail Mary, with 10 seconds left from the +43 would've been the right move. If you can't get the quick gain that you want, you can likely come back and try the Hail Mary on the following play.

217 Great play by Lynch to try…

Great play by Lynch to try to launch his teammate to the first-down marker. Came up a little short, but it opens up many more options for 4th down, and was a heads-up play.

220 It wasn't a vicious hit or…

It wasn't a vicious hit or anything, but it feels like a personal foul penalty is in order for tackling the QB after jumping offside as ZaDarius Smith just did. Just an unnecessary play.

222 It was necessary...

It was necessary, though -- the refs hadn't blown it dead, so if he doesn't tackle Wilson, then Seattle has a free play. It was actually very much the right play to make in that situation. And like you said, he didn't use unnecessary force in doing so.

231 I think the fault here is on…

I think the fault here is on the refs for not blowing the play dead more quickly. There's specifically an "unabated [path] to the quarterback" provision that mandates the play be blown dead to try to prevent these plays.

256 Yeah, this is high school…

Yeah, this is high school level stuff for the officials.  On a defensive offside, you don't let the player get to the QB.  Shouldn't happen in a professional playoff game.

221 Nice job by Darnell Savage…

Nice job by Darnell Savage to dodge the cleats-up slide by Wilson. Given Wilson's baseball background I have to wonder if that was intentional...

224 Players change, coaches…

Players change, coaches change, but the Packers are still never, ever able to defend a QB who can run. Going back to Vick in 2002.

229 Bobby Douglass scored 4…

In reply to by Mike W

Bobby Douglass scored 4 rushing TD’s in one game against Green Bay.

228 Here comes Wilson

That guy who has never received a single MVP vote.

230 I don't know how the refs…

I don't know how the refs missed that helmet-to-helmet hit by King on Lockett.

EDIT: Fox found a good replay showing that contact was first made with Lockett's hand (or perhaps the ball). Sure felt like a dangerous play, I guess the refs got a tough one right!

233 This is reminding me of that…

This is reminding me of that Seahawks-49ers game from a few weeks ago. Seattle doing nothing on offense in the first half before become far more effective while trying to come back from a deficit.

236 Lost Ti-cats Fan above hit…

Lost Ti-cats Fan above hit the nail on the head: big deficit means they have to pass, which they're way better at than running. Takes the game out of Schottenheimer's hands and puts it in Wilson's, which is just about the biggest possible upgrade in football.

237 They called them during GB's…

They called them during GB's possession inside the 5 and inside 2 minutes, to preserve time for a drive that they didn't do much with (ended with the Hail Mary).

238 There was no sign of a…

There was no sign of a turnaround like this at halftime. Green Bay still in a strong position, though.

239 Alexander is prone to some…

Alexander is prone to some coverage failures, but man he can do some other cool stuff.

241 Hey, look at that! A "Next…

Hey, look at that! A "Next Gen Stats" graphic that was actually pretty interesting and meaningful!

244 I don't understand why…

I don't understand why Seattle's kicking short? The last 2 looked intentional, and all it's doing is giving GB a few more yards than a touchback would.

245 Half the fun of being QB is…

Half the fun of being QB is getting to yell random nonsense. "YELLOW WEASEL!"

296 As soon as he started…

As soon as he started yelling that, the Seattle defense responded with "watch the middle, watch the middle!" and shifted right into the play. 

It was funny to hear, but Seattle also seemed to know exactly what it meant.

246 As someone who lives in the…

As someone who lives in the central Florida area, there are a lot of folks around here who are pretty excited about that sack shared by the Griffins.

248 Wow 5 point game. A game…

Wow 5 point game. A game that was once a snoozefest is now exciting. So much for saying seattle had boring back to back games.

249 Oh good, we get more penalty…

Oh good, we get more penalty clock-burning. Aikman speculating it'll be changed; it really needs to be.

250 Even if they pull this out,…

Even if they pull this out, this is not a good performance by Green Bay. Seattle is ridden by injuries and lost by multiple scores to Arizona just a few weeks ago. I continue to be disappointed the Saints were eliminated so early. I think they and the 49ers would have made the best championship combination.

251 Oh man if they do win, they…

Oh man if they do win, they're going to lose like 56-10 next week. And if they somehow win that, the Chiefs might literally put up 100 on them in the Super Bowl.

I feel like they could play the Titans close, though!

264 49ers should be big…

49ers should be big favorites but they had their own struggles late in the season too. If they can lose at home to the Falcons they could lose to Green Bay as well.

252 I too would've liked a SF/NO…

I too would've liked a SF/NO championship game, but the Seahawks played the 49ers very tough in the final game of the regular season, so I'm not sure that it makes sense to assume that the Seahawks are (or would be) an unworthy opponent.

267 Eh

This is what Wilson does. GB was much better than Sea, but Sea has Wilson.

But yeah, SF is likely going to romp.

253 Terrible punt

SEA decided to punt to GB from the SEA 36 on 4th & 11 with 2:41 remaining in the 4th while losing 23 to 28.

With a Surrender Index of 4.32, this punt ranks at the 86th percentile of cowardly punts of the 2019 season, and the 83rd percentile of all punts since 2009.

269 4th-11, 2:36 to go, with…

In reply to by vaujot

4th-11, 2:36 to go, with three TOS, and punting from within their FG range when you can’t give it up.

i don’t hate it.

290 Being in long FG range might…

Being in long FG range might have been an advantage, it could make GB go conservative in their play calls and allow Seattle to get the ball back down 5 or 8.

274 I'm surprised it's ranked so…

In reply to by vaujot

I'm surprised it's ranked so poorly.   I thought that punt was the right call in the circumstances.

Credit Lafleur for not doing the standard run 3 times into the line to burn TOs and then punt on the subsequent GB possession.  Against a lot of coaches, SEA gets the ball again.

279 That's a good point…

That's a good point. Especially with 11 yards to go, odds of converting can't be high, and failure would give GB the ball basically in FG range - and a FG would make it so they need the 2 to tie, instead of a TD wins. I wonder if the Coward-o-meter doesn't factor in the timeout decision?

And yes, that very sequence is why they got Lafleur instead of McCarthy. McCarthy 100% runs on 3rd and 8 and punts.

254 Bad play by Rodgers to throw…

Bad play by Rodgers to throw it away rather than run or take a sack, but he makes up for it with that beautiful toss to Adams on the following play.

265 That's what I thought, too,…

That's what I thought, too, at the time.  In thinking about it afterward, though, throwing twice to try to make the first down probably has a higher win percentage, and if Rogers knew they would be throwing on third down, saving the yardage by avoiding the sack was the right call.

273 I have no problem at all…

I have no problem at all with the playcall. But once Rodgers decided he didn't have anything he liked, I think he could've turned upfield enough that even if he did get tripped up, the loss would be minimal. The value of keeping the clock going seemed greater than that of saving a few yards.

258 Hint to coaches from this

So refreshing to see a team with a one score lead actually try to earn a first down by passing, where that is the best chance to make it, rather than running in order to bleed time off the clock.

257 Adams

Adams really needed to come down in bounds there. Don’t know how easy it would have been.

261 I thought he was down a few…

I thought he was down a few inches short of the first......

EDIT: Well, maybe not. I thought the line-to-gain was at the yard line but it's about 4 inches short of that, so the ball more or less lands on the line-to-gain. Can't see any grounds to overturn it. And they don't.

268 Sideline makes it look like…

Sideline camera angle makes it look like he made it (the yellow line may not have been right).

I didn't like that the official making the call was behind the play looking forward.  Terrible angle to make an accurate spot, but in this case I think he got it right.

275 Yeah that was the angle that…

Yeah that was the angle that convinced me the spot was right. Announcers always seem to make the "Yellow line is not official!" comment by rote, but they didn't this time when that actually was relevant.

270 It never comes down to just…

It never comes down to just one play, but that drop by Turner on the last SEA drive was huge. Tough not to wonder if the game result is different if he doesn't pooch it.

278 Typical Packers

This was the Absolute Quintessential 2019 Packers Performance:

-Score a Touchdown on the 1st Drive
-Take a Double Digit lead through a good portion of the 3rd Quarter
-Suddenly stop being able to do anything as other team begins staging a comeback
-Try to desperately hang on as it looks like the team is about to blow a Double Digit 2nd Half lead
-Barely hold on and win by around 5 points

**Everyone leaves the game wondering if GB is good but got careless and almost blew the lead or if they were just lucky to have the lead to begin with and then barely held on

284 Ludicrous Statement

you dont win 14 games being lucky all the time. They are a good, not great team. They had to hold off one of the best QBs in the sport who has a knack for comebacks. And a HOF QB hit an All Pro receiver repeatedly and when it mattered and then Jmmy Graham one more time.  They deserved the lead-- and the outcome was appropriate.

280 The Turner drop was the most

inexcusable...obvious-choke-drop, in a full day of pathetically dropped balls.

281 Q, true.

But those early drives were frenetic. Like, blinding. I think they have an adrenaline dump after such drives.

283 Welcome Back, Aaron Rodgers

Best game he's played since 2016. Jones was stuffed by Seahawks-- it was all on him to kill the game-- two huge 3rd down passes to Adams and Graham. Who cares about the spot? Inches either way-- breaks of the game. Pack would have gone for it and converted-- and no, it doesn't make up for either Fail Mary or 2014 title game collapse. But we'll take it. Go to SF with house money-- and my sense is after draft and free agency brings several WRs next year's team gonna be better and even a stronger SB contender. and they probably won't win 13 games but who cares? TThis will be Rodtgers 4th NFC title game on road-- has any other QB played that many without a home game before/ I dunno.

299 Why Defer?

IIRC early FBO analysis had first quarter offense with outsize impact on the game. If that’s true (or not) why does everybody defer after winning the coin toss?