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 0 Top 3rd Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 0 3rd Prd
Buffalo 5
Carolina 2 3rd Prd
Columbus 2
Pittsburgh 1 2nd Prd 10:58
Detroit 0
Montreal 0 1st Prd 15:52
Chicago 0
Arizona 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
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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 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
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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