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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Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 12:00 PM
Chicago
Oklahoma City 2:30 PM
Cleveland
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 12:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Virginia 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Indiana 12:30 PM
Ohio State
Stony Brook 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Cincinnati 1:00 PM
UCF
Maine 1:00 PM
Hartford
Monmouth 1:00 PM
Manhattan
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Marist
Rowan 1:00 PM
Princeton
St Bonaventure 1:00 PM
Rhode Island
Duke 1:00 PM
St Johns
Saint Peters 1:00 PM
Siena
Drake 1:00 PM
Wichita State
Vermont 1:00 PM
UMass Lowell
Seton Hall 2:00 PM
Butler
NJIT 2:05 PM
South Alabama
Northern Iowa 3:00 PM
Illinois State
Louisville 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
UMBC 3:30 PM
Albany
Niagara 3:30 PM
Iona
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 11:00 AM
Georgetown
St Johns 11:00 AM
Villanova
Arkansas 11:00 AM
Florida
Maine 12:00 PM
UMBC
Vanderbilt 12:00 PM
Alabama
Lafayette 12:00 PM
Lehigh
UCF 1:00 PM
SMU
Utah 1:00 PM
Washington
James Madison 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
Delaware 1:00 PM
Drexel
Hofstra 1:00 PM
William & Mary
Hartford 1:00 PM
Albany
Binghamton 1:00 PM
Stony Brook
Towson 1:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Wake Forest 1:00 PM
(17) Florida State
Georgia Tech 1:00 PM
Virginia
(22) Georgia 1:00 PM
(5) Tennessee
Drake 1:00 PM
Evansville
Iona 1:00 PM
Canisius
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Monmouth
Northwestern 1:00 PM
Penn State
Wisconsin 1:00 PM
Michigan State
Ohio State 1:00 PM
Purdue
Northern Iowa 1:05 PM
Indiana State
Butler 1:30 PM
Xavier
Creighton 2:00 PM
Marquette
Providence 2:00 PM
DePaul
Northeastern 2:00 PM
Elon
(2) Connecticut 2:00 PM
Cincinnati
Oregon 2:00 PM
Arizona
Bradley 2:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
NC State 2:00 PM
(23) Syracuse
(7) Maryland 2:00 PM
Indiana
Illinois State 2:05 PM
Missouri State
Colorado 3:00 PM
Washington St
Tulane 3:00 PM
South Florida
(14) Kentucky 3:00 PM
Missouri
(9) Oregon State 3:00 PM
(13) Arizona State
Vermont 3:30 PM
UMass Lowell
Iowa State 3:30 PM
(8) Texas
Southern Ill 3:45 PM
Wichita State
(15) Duke 4:00 PM
(12) North Carolina
Miami-Florida 4:00 PM
(4) Louisville
(21) Minnesota 4:15 PM
(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
UCLA
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC
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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 NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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