Mark Craig ranks the NFL playoff teams

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 3, 2014 - 10:03 PM

PASS OR FAIL? RANKING THE PLAYOFF TEAMS

We came up with 13 categories that help weigh the two most important elements of 21st century NFL football: Passing the ball and stopping the pass. We took the regular-season statistics and ranked each conference’s six teams from 1 to 6 in the following categories: yards per pass attempt, yards allowed per pass attempt, the current starting quarterback’s passer rating, overall passer rating allowed, passer rating differential, interception differential, turnover differential, red-zone offense, red-zone defense, third-down offense, third-down defense, sacks per pass play and sacks allowed per pass play. Here’s how each conference stacked up (the lower the point total, the better):

AFC

1. Broncos (35 points)

Best stat: The NFL’s best red-zone offense with a 76.1 touchdown percentage.

Worst stat: No. 5 among AFC playoff teams in turnover differential (even).

Thing that could mess up all this number crunching: In 12 trips to the playoffs, Peyton Manning has gone one-and-done eight times, including five times at home.

2. Bengals (36)

Best stat: No. 1 among AFC playoff teams and second in the NFL in third-down defense (32.9 percent).

Worst stat: Ranks tied for last among AFC playoff teams in interception differential (even, 20-20).

Thing that could mess up all this number crunching: In playoff games, Andy Dalton is 0-2 with no touchdowns, four interceptions and a 48.6 passer rating.

3. Chiefs (40)

Best stat: Ranks first among AFC playoff teams in interception differential (plus-14) and turnover differential (plus-18).

Worst stat: Ranks last among AFC playoff teams in third-down offense and sacks allowed per pass play.

Thing that could mess up all this number crunching: The Chiefs went 0-5 against this year’s AFC playoff teams.

4. Patriots (47)

Best stat: Ranks first among AFC playoff teams and seventh in the NFL in defensive sacks per pass play.

Worst stat: Ranks last among AFC playoff teams in third-down defense (42.2).

Thing that could mess up all this number crunching: Experience, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick make fourth-place ranking feel low.

5. Colts (53)

Best stat: No. 2 among AFC playoff teams in turnover differential (plus-13).

Worst stat: Last among AFC playoff teams in passer rating differential (plus-2.4).

Thing that could mess up all this number crunching: The Colts have beaten the 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos and Chiefs this year.

6. Chargers (59)

Best stat: No. 1 in the NFL in third-down offense (49.0).

Worst stat: Last among all playoff teams in turnover differential (minus-4).

Thing that could mess up all this number crunching: Riding a four-game winning streak, best among AFC playoff teams.

NFC

1. SEAHAWKS (33 points)

Best stat: The NFL’s best passer rating differential (plus-37.8).

Worst stat: Last in the NFL in sacks allowed per pass play.

Thing that could mess up all this number crunching: Finished 2-2 with a loss to Arizona at home.

2. Saints (43)

Best stat: No. 1 among NFC playoff teams in third-down offense (43.9).

Worst stat: Last among NFC playoff teams in interception differential (even).

Thing that could mess up all this number crunching: The Saints won’t play a home game. They are 3-5 away from the Superdome.

3. Panthers (45)

Best stat: No. 1 among NFC playoff teams in red-zone offense (58.0).

Worst stat: Last among NFC playoff teams in passer rating differential (plus-7.4).

Thing that could mess up all this number crunching: Third-year quarterback Cam Newton will be making his postseason debut.

3 (tie). Eagles (45)

Best stat: Second among all NFL teams behind Seattle in interception differential (plus-17).

Worst stat: Second-worst among all playoff teams behind Patriots in third-down defense (40.3).

Thing that could mess up all this number crunching: Quarterback Nick Foles will be making his playoff debut.

5. 49ers (47)

Best stat: No. 1 among NFC playoff teams and No. 2 among all playoff teams in third-down defense (34.1).

Worst stat: Worst among NFC playoff teams in third-down offense (36.5).

Thing that could mess up all this number crunching: They’ve won an NFL-best six straight, including a victory over Seattle.

6. Packers (58)

Best stat: Aaron Rodgers’ 104.9 passer rating is No. 2 among NFC playoff teams behind the Eagles’ Foles (119.2).

Worst stat: Opponents passer rating (95.9) second-highest among all playoff teams behind San Diego (96.4).

Thing that could mess up all this number crunching: Aaron Rodgers is back, so anything is possible.

MARK CRAIG

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San Francisco - LP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: K. Herrera 7
San Diego 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 90 FINAL
Orlando 89
Brooklyn 86 FINAL
Boston 100
Washington 100 FINAL
New York 103
Cleveland 92 FINAL
Memphis 96
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Milwaukee 91
Atlanta 117 FINAL
San Antonio 107
Portland 86 FINAL
LA Lakers 94
Phoenix 105 FINAL
LA Clippers 108
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Washington 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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