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 2 Bottom 5th Inning
Kansas City 2
San Diego 10/23/14 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 95 4th Qtr 1:57
New York 97
Cleveland 58 3rd Qtr 3:39
Memphis 59
Minnesota 72 3rd Qtr 2:06
Milwaukee 61
Atlanta 53 3rd Qtr
San Antonio 48
Portland 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Phoenix 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 2 3rd Prd
Pittsburgh 2
Washington 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Anaheim
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 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 1st Half 44:55
Real Salt Lake 0
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
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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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