Thursday, January 10, 2013

Divisional Predictions

Wildcard predictions were 50/ 50 range, which is on par with what you'd expect from a young child or an aunt who doesn't watch football because she "doesn't know what channel it's on" yet inevitably wins three out of four quarters in each year's Superbowl score squares-lottery. Green Bay was accurate, Baltimore gave more offense than projected and if Dalton didn't overthrow AJ Green Cincinnati would have been quite close. The main outlier was Washington, which included a qualified prediction dependent upon the health of RG3's knee. The Skins' prediction looked good through the first quarter when they jumped out to a 14-0 lead but everything deteriorated after RG3 re-aggravated his knee injury. On to the divisionals:

Denver 31 -- Baltimore 13: The projection includes an expected conservative field goal on 4th and a very short goal to-go for Denver as well as an uncharacteristic Peyton Manning turnover on Baltimore's side of the field. In other words, this game could have easily been a thirty point blow-out. Peyton has won 9 straight verse the Ravens and less than a month ago the Broncos won by 17 in Baltimore and were up 28 at one point in the fourth quarter. The return-of-Ray-effect won't offset the fact that in terms of yards per game the Broncos were the third best in defending the pass and the run and that they led the league in sacks, which is a critical statistic in the NFL, where one sack effectively ends a drive. Considering that Denver averaged over 3 sacks a game and that there are 12-13 drives per game per team then teams essentially are forced to play Denver on offense for three quarters (9ish drives) as opposed to four (12-13).

Green Bay 28 -- San Francisco 24: The Packers lost week one at home to an Alex Smith led San Fran team. San Fran's defense is far superior to Green Bay's but here's the thing--in the last three games of the regular season Aaron Rodgers threw for 10 TDs and 0 pics. Despite last week's minor drop off (although he did complete 70% of his passes and the Packers always led comfortably so he was never really forced to air it out) Rodgers is in a zone where he's going to contribute to 4-5 scores 3 of which will likely be TDs. As a result, Kaepernick has to come up with at least 24 points or hope for a defensive score. Barring a fortuitous 49ers' fumble recovery this isn't likely. This game will be closer than last week for Green Bay and they may even have to come from behind in the fourth quarter but San Fran won't be able to keep pace with Green Bay's offense.

Atlanta 24 -- Seattle 14: If RG3's knee stays healthy, Russell Wilson has to air it out 4 out of 5 plays starting in the second quarter, the Skin's defense knows it and the Seahawks get clobbered. Still not over missing last week's call on account of an injury that in itself was highly likely. This should be the least entertaining game of the weekend and Atlanta will lead the entire game save a possible Seahawk FG to start the game. The score is going to go something like: ATL 14-0; 14-7; 17-7; 17-14; 24-14.

New England 38 -- Houston 17: Matt Schaub has now thrown one TD to four interceptions over his last five games. While Brady has thrown four pics in his last four games he's also thrown 9 TDs. The last time these teams plays four weeks ago it looked more like the Patriots were playing the University of Houston (sans Clyde Drexler/ David Klingler appearance). With this being the late game on Sunday, CBS programming executives should have no concern over potential delays to airing the regularly scheduled 60 Minutes at the conclusion of the game.

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