NFL Divisional Round Predictions (2016)

OK, I am going to be as brief as I can be here since my last two posts were quite long with my analysis of each game. We will go with bullet point format.

SEATTLE @ ATLANTA (Saturday, January 14 1:35 PM PST on FOX)
Vegas Line: ATL -4.5, O/U 51.5
GE Line: ATL -5.42, O/U 52.27
Prediction: ATL 30 - SEA 24 (OT)

  • Atlanta has the best offense in football ranking #1 based on the GE model and #1 in DVOA according to Football Outsiders.
  • Seattle is 3-4-1 on the road with significantly worse numbers on the road for key players like Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin.
  • The Seattle defense has not been the same without Earl Thomas. Seattle's defensive numbers have dipped since his injury, even against very weak offenses like the Rams and 49ers.
  • Seattle beat Atlanta earlier this season 26-24 in Seattle. A non-PI call when Richard Sherman was covering Julio Jones near the end of the game seems to be a sticking point here.
  • Seattle has the worst sack allowed rate out of all 8 remaining playoff teams at 6.9%. Atlanta's starting outside linebacker Vic Beasley leads the NFL in sacks with 15.5.
  • In fact, Wilson has been sacked 32 times in his last 10 games. Most Pro Bowl level QBs are sacked less than twice per game. This clearly shows the ineptitude of the Seattle offensive line in protecting one of their biggest offensive assets.

HOUSTON @ NEW ENGLAND (Saturday, January 14 5:15 PM PST on CBS)
Vegas Line: NE -15.5, O/U 44.5
GE Line: NE -13.91, O/U 41.62
Prediction: NE 31 - HOU 10

  • Houston's offense is terrible. It ranks 4th to last based on the GE model and 3rd to last in DVOA according to Football Outsiders.
  • On the other hand, New England's defense ranks #3 based on the GE model and has allowed a league low of 250 points.
  • Out of all 12 playoff teams, Houston has the worst point differential at -49. No wonder they are one of the worst playoff teams in recent memory. New England rates as #1 for the entire NFL regular season in point differential at +191.
  • New England is 3rd in turnover ratio at +12. Houston is the worst in the playoff field at -7.
  • New England went 5-1 against teams with a winning record this year. Houston is 2-5 with one of those losses to New England by a score of 27-0.
  • Tom Brady is incredible at home in the playoffs with a record of 15-3.

GREEN BAY @ DALLAS (Saturday, January 14 1:35 PM PST on FOX)
Vegas Line: DAL -5, O/U 52.5
GE Line: DAL -4.98, O/U 50.14
Prediction: DAL 34 - GB 21

  • Green Bay ranks dead last in passing yards allowed per attempt at 8.1. Dak Prescott is 3rd in the NFL after Matt Ryan and Tom Brady for that same statistic.
  • Green Bay allows a QB rating of 95.9, 7th worst in the NFL and worst among all 8 remaining playoff teams.
  • Dallas has the best offensive line in football and an extra week of rest. They are also at home where they are 7-1 while Green Bay is 4-4 on the road. Dallas's average point differential at home is 9.375 points per game while Green Bay's point differential on the road is -2 points per game.
  • Dallas did beat Green Bay earlier this season 30-15 and that game was in Green Bay.
  • Green Bay is without Jordy Nelson, their best WR.
  • The best defense against a hot offense like Dallas is to hog the clock. Ezekiel Elliott led the league in rushing yards by a wide margin. Dallas is also #3 in the league in time of possession.

PITTSBURGH @ KANSAS CITY (Sunday, January 15 5:20 PM PST on NBC)
Vegas Line: KC -1, O/U 43.5
GE Line: KC -2.70, O/U 44.67
Prediction: KC 24 - PIT 21

  • No one is better at preparing his team after a bye week than Andy Reid. He is 19-2 lifetime after a bye week, including 3-0 in the postseason.
  • Alex Smith has an impressive postseason stat line through 5 games. For a 16 game season, it would project to over 4000 passing yards, 35 - 36 passing TDs, just 3 - 4 INTs, 600+ rushing yards, and 3 - 4 rushing TDs. Incredible numbers against stiff competition.
  • Ben Roethlisberger is apparently hobbled and also doesn't perform as well on the road as he does at home. 20 TDs and 5 INTs at home but 9 TDs and 8 INTs on the road this season.
  • As good as Le'Veon Bell is and the Pittsburgh run game, the Steelers actually rank quite low in open field yards (bottom 8). KC is top 5 at allowing fewest open field yards. This speaks volumes about the KC secondary which is one of the best in the league and should be able to contain Bell.
  • Pittsburgh had a rather weak schedule this year with no other team in its division having a winning record and in fact having 2 games against the hapless Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs had 2 teams with winning records in its division and went undefeated against its divisional opponents. These two teams may have even records but the Chiefs earned that record against stronger competition.
  • Pittsburgh beat Kansas City 43-14 earlier this season but since then the Chiefs went 10-2 with a 5-2 record against teams with a winning record. The Steelers did have a 7 game winning streak to finish off the regular season but went 1-3 against teams with a winning record. Going into Arrowhead will be a tougher task for the Steelers than playing the Dolphins at home last week.