Each NFL Playoff Team’s Case+Odds to Win it All — and why it won’t happen

Posted: 01/04/2013 by levcohen in Football
Tags: ,

With the NFL Playoffs starting tomorrow (Bengals-Texans is the first game, followed by Vikings-Packers), I’m going to look into each team, and the way they can win the superbowl. I’ll also have a pessimistic view of why they won’t win the Lambeau trophy.

The Favorite: Denver Broncos.
Optimistic Fan’s View: We have the Lambeau trophy all locked up! We have the best overall team in football, and ended the year on an 11 game winning streak. We consistently blew teams out, outscoring the opponent by 192 points on the season. The latest we lost this year was week five. We lost to three playoff teams: Atlanta and New England (on the road) and Houston (at home). Luckily for us, we will play two playoff games at home before likely having a neutral field game at New Orleans in the Super Bowl. We have the best QB in the NFL, Peyton Manning. Our offense is so good that our defense has gone under the radar. Football Outsiders has us as a top five defensive team. We were even better by season’s end, winning our last four games by 87 points total. The only way for us to lose is if Peyton gets hurt, and that’s not happening, as we have the second best o-line at protecting the QB. That, along with Peyton, two top wide receivers and a top five defense will lead us to a super bowl.

Pessimistic Fan’s View: We’re the favorite? Oh, no. Our schedule this year stunk. We played five playoff teams this year (none in the division). Our record in those games? 2-3. Not to mention that the two teams we beat (Cincy and Baltimore) are considered to be weak playoff teams. Sure, we had a good record and point differential, but that comes from playing eight games against Oakland, San Diego, Kansas City, Cleveland and Carolina. We have Peyton, but our run game isn’t great. Knowshon Moreno is playing well, but only because opposing secondaries are focusing on the pass. When (not if) Peyton can’t find anyone open a few times and we start handing the ball off to Moreno, there will be trouble. Our defense is thought to be good, but, against the five playoff teams we played, we gave up an average of 26 points. Not so good anymore.

Betvega Super Bowl Odds: 3/1.
My odds: 4/1.. It’s not easy to say anyone has an above 30% chance of winning it all with 12 teams still left.

The Other Byes:

New England Patriots:
Optimist: Now this is the way we like it! With a bye and then a win at home over a really mediocre team (Houston, Baltimore or Indianapolis) we will be facing off with Peyton Manning and the Broncos for the AFC Championship. After beating Peyton earlier this season, Tom Brady is 9-4 against the former Colts QB, including 2-1 in the playoffs. We have his number. I’m happy to know that we will not be favored over Denver, because we are best when we are underdogs. I’d take Bill Belichick to outcoach John Fox any day. We have the best offense in the NFL, led by the best QB in the NFL, Tom Brady (sorry, Peyton and Rodgers). Denver thinks their +192 point differential is good. Take a look at our +226. We lost to three NFC teams, including one who didn’t make the playoffs, against Arizona, who we shouldn’t have lost to. The AFC team we lost to was Baltimore in week 3, at Baltimore. Baltimore is a different team than they were in week 3, with a lot of guys hurt. Plus, if we face them again it would be at home. And for the people who think we have no run game, check out Steven Ridley, our 1260 yard and 12 touchdown monster.

Pessimist: Next on the exposed defensive team series.. the New England Patriots. People might look at the stats, and see that we have a good defense. But that top 15 ranking means nothing when, against a good QB, your secondary stinks. Our pass defense is ranked 23rd, 3rd worst among playoff teams. And everybody knows that championships are won by QB’s… and stopping elite QB’s. And we might have the first component, but we definitely don’t have the second. I’m not even going to get started on our lackluster efforts at the end of the season (loss to San Fran, 7 point win over Jacksonville).

Betvega Odds: 15/4
My Odds: 9/2

San Francisco 49ers:
Optimist: Say hello to the best all around team in the NFL. With our #5 offensive rank and second ranked defense, there is no way we will lose. The blowout against Seattle was a disaster, but we won’t have to play Seattle on the road again, and Kaepernick has improved since then. We have two losses against playoff teams, against Minnesota and that loss to Seattle. We have also beaten both Green Bay and New England on the road. I don’t think any other team in the NFL can say that. It will be very difficult to score against our #2 defense, and even with some wide receivers going down to injuries, we still have an awesome offense. Frank Gore has to be considered a top 5 running back, and LaMichael James is finally showing himself.

Pessimist: What happened to our offense? It’s not good news when the QB with the best passer rating in the NFL (Alex Smith) is on the bench, and our second best WR is Randy Moss. Frank Gore started great, but only has three 100 yard games on the season, and only 96 yards in the last two games. Also, I thought kicking was a strength. It turns out that even David Akers is shaky, and we signed Billy Cundiff (bad memories, Ravens fans?) to compete with him. Cundiff has been cut twice in the last year. We have a special teams problem, and that was supposed to be our strength. We are 20th in the NFL in special teams, also known as third worst among playoff teams. Akers has been the worst kicker in the NFL this year.

Betvega Odds: 6/1
My odds: 13/2

Atlanta Falcons:
Optimist: 13-3 team right here. While we look average in the advanced stat categories, take a look at the talent our team has. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Jacquizz Rodgers, Stephen Nicholas, Sean Weatherspoon, Dunta Robinson, Asante Samuel, John Abraham, Thomas DeCloud.. the list goes on. We have home field advantage throughout the playoffs to the super bowl, and our super bowl game can pretty much be considered a home game too, as it’s right next door in New Orleans. Since we haven’t won a playoff game in a while, we have a lot to prove. Matt Ryan has so many people to throw to. Jones, White and Gonzalez have to be three of the seven best pass catchers in the NFL, and when the opponent isn’t looking Ryan can even sneak TD passes in to guys like Jason Snelling. This is our year!

Pessimist: We aren’t a top 10 offense. We aren’t a top 10 defense. Our running game stinks. We haven’t won a playoff game with Matt Ryan at QB. We have a likely second round matchup with Seattle. Julio and Roddy are banged up. Asante and Dunta and our secondary are banged up. – insert sarcasm: What’s not to like?-

Betvega Odds: 7/1
My odds: 9/1

Other Serious Contenders:

Green Bay Packers:
Optimist: Two words. Aaron Rodgers. I’m sure Patriots and Broncos fans believe they have the best QB in the NFL, but they are wrong. The difference? Rodgers has a bad offensive line, still gets off beautiful throws, and can run like few other QB’s. After our admittedly disappointing albeit close loss to Minnesota in Minny last week, many people forgot about the nine out of 10 games we’d won before that game, including the 55-7 demolition of the Titans in week 16. The best thing about our team is that we’ve got our running game going recently, with Alex Green and Dwayne Harris getting going. Oh, and we haven’t even gotten into our WR stable. We have the #12, #13 and #17 WR’s. And that’s not even including Greg Jennings, our top wide receiver who recently came off the injured list and had a great game last week. The best thing about our WR is each do different things. Randall Cobb, the #12 ranked WR, is our short option and kick returner who also has the most rushing yards among WR’s. The #13, James Jones, has the most touchdown catches (14) in the NFL. The #17, Jordy Nelson, is our deep threat, and he’s #17 even after missing four games. Greg Jennings does everything well.

Pessimist: Every time Aaron Rodgers says “hike”, I cringe, because I know what’s going to happen. Our offensive line is dreadful, and every play there is pressure on our all-pro QB. In fact, the only worse team at protecting their QB is San Diego. Yep, we have a worse protecting O-Line, than the Jets, who allowed Greg McElroy to be sacked 11 times against the aforementioned Chargers. I’m not going to lie, our defense has improved, especially our pass defense (that comes from playing against Christian Ponder twice), but our biggest strength from last year, special teams, has been below average. We can blame that on our kicker, Mason Crosby, who was so good before this year, but has been horrible this year. With a lackluster offensive line and a horrible kicker to go along with a below average run game and an average defense against good teams, I’m not sure we can even beat the Vikings in the first round.

Betvega Odds: 15/2
My odds: 10/1

Seattle Seahawks:
Optimist: New Orleans here we come! We probably have to play three games on the road to get there, but we can still easily handle it. We lost four of our first five road games, but we all know that we are a much better team now. All because of Russell Wilson, the clear cut rookie of the year. With Russell playing well, we’ve won seven of the last eight games, with the only loss being by three at Miami. Listen to this. In a three game stretch, we averaged 50 points per game. And two of those games were against top six defenses. Just look at our statistical output. We are the #4 ranked offensive team- led by Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, who ran for the third most yards in the NFL, the fourth ranked D, and the third ranked special teams- led by Leon Washington who is one of the best kick returners ever. This team looks unbeatable.

Pessimist: If we were in the Falcons position with the one seed, I’d be a definite optimist. We went 8-0 at home, but just 3-5 on the road. That is going to be a problem with three straight road games (and New Orleans is so far away from Seattle that it’s pretty much four) if we want to win it all. Wilson has been great, but he still just a rookie. Lynch is Lynch, but we need a passing game if we are going to beat teams such as the 49ers, Packers, Redskins or Falcons on the road. I don’t see it happening this year, but I’ll be back on the bandwagon next year.

Betvega Odds: 12/1
My odds: 11/1

Outside shot, but plausible:

Houston Texans:
Optimist: Sure, we finished the season on a bad note, losing three out of our last four. But you have to look at the 12-4 record, and especially that big win at Denver. Matt Schaub definitely ended the season on a cold streak, but, again, look at the full body of work. He was a top 10 QB for most of the year, and ended at number 12. If he can just play at the top 10 mark, our team will be great. Our defense has been very good for most of the year, and ended at #3, despite having troubles at defending the pass at the end of the year. As for our run game, it is still great. We had 2123 yards rushing as a team, led by Arian Foster’s 1424. Truthfully, we only have two real pass catching targets. Andre Johnson was the #2 WR this year, and Owen Daniels is a top tight end. After an easy win against the Bengals in week one, we can prepare for the Patriots, and avenge our earlier blowout loss at their hands. Also, two (maybe three) words. J.J. WATT.

Pessimist: We were the worst special teams team in the NFL. As teams routinely gouged us for huge kick returns. That is going to come back to bite us, along with our lackluster end of the season. We really only have one great offensive player, in Andre Johnson. People might point to Arian Foster, but he is more a product of a good running scheme. His 4.1 yards per carry is well below average for an “elite” back, and backups Ben Tate and Justin Forsett each averaged more than 4.1 yards per carry. On defense, I thought we were good, but look at how many points we’ve allowed over the last seven games: 37, 31, 10, 42, 17, 23, 28. That’s an average of 28 points per game, and we played bad teams like Jacksonville, Detroit and Tennessee over that time span. Even if we beat Cincy, we have to go to New England after that. Ouch. Did anyone see our 42-14 loss at New England? Something like that would happen again.

Betvega Odds: 14/1
My odds: 17/1

Baltimore Ravens:
Optimist: Ray Lewis is back, and he has the team motivated. After announcing that he’ll retire after this year, the Ravens are going to put up a great effort in this postseason. The defense, which stumbled this year, is going to be back to their stifling-selves in the playoffs. QB Joe Flacco always preforms well in the playoffs. Look at last year, for example. He raised his passer rating 16 points from 80 to 96. This year, he had an 88 passer rating, so using that logic he will be great in the playoffs. Ray Rice is a very dynamic running back (#7 this year), and we have two gifted receivers in Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. Our special teams is our greatest strength, with the #1 ranked special teams. That’s mainly because of our outstanding rookie kicker Justin Tucker, and the best kick returner in the NFL, Jacoby Jones. Special teams will win us close games. After beating Indy, we will either go to Denver or New England. We already beat the Patriots this year, and am confident we can do it again. Denver beat us, but if we can rush the passer like I know we can, we can knock Peyton out of the game and get to the Super Bowl. Watch out, the Ravens are hungry.

Pessimist: This is clearly not our year. Against good defenses, our offense is just horrible. Flacco can preform well against bad secondaries, and the Colts are one of them. But after that, we will have to go to Denver. We were already crushed by Denver once, and it will happen again, if we even get there. Our defense, which has carried us over the past years, was below average this year, with our two best defensive players hurt. Lewis is back now, but I don’t think he will be at top strength. The Colts are really motivated right now, and as should we. I’m not too worried about playoff week one, but there is no way we beat Denver.

Betvega Odds: 22/1
My odds: 18/1

Washington Redskins:
Optimist: RGIII FOR MVP! That’s not a chant that’s realistic this year, unless MVP stands for Playoff MVP. I truly believe we can win it all, behind our great running game. We had two top 20 rushers this year, both rookies. Running back Alfred Morris, drafted in the 6th round from Florida Atlantic, had more yards than any running back not named Adrian Peterson. And Robert Griffin III, with more than half as many yards as Morris, had the most yards rushing among any QB’s. We have a tough game against Seattle, but we are home, and our home fans are fantastic. I’m sort of insult by the fact that we are on a seven game win streak, but Seattle is the team getting all the love. We will let the results speak for themselves, as we’ve lost one home game since October 7th. The best running team in the country will win out.

Pessimist: Who is the best team we beat? Baltimore? We beat only two playoff teams this year, both at home, and we’ll only get one home game in the playoffs. Our win against Baltimore was by 3 in overtime. It’s good, but it’s not all that impressive. Our defense stinks, as we allow 282 yards per game through the air, third worst in the NFL. Even if we beat Seattle (which is doubtful) our next game would likely come against the Falcons, who have already beaten us. Imagine how they would be licking their lips at facing Deangelo Hall and our swiss cheese secondary again.

Betvega Odds: 18/1
My odds: 22/1

Once In a Blue Moon:

Minnesota Vikings:
Optimist: Well… There is this player who has a first name “Adrian” and a last name “Peterson” who happens to be pretty good. Good enough, in fact, to lead an otherwise below average team to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth. Four more wins is not out of the realm of possibility.

Pessimist: The Packers aren’t making that mistake again. If Adrian Peterson gashes them for 180 yards and a touchdown or even two, I would still favor the Packers to win. Check out the QB’s head to head.

 Aaron Rodgers  Christian Ponder
Passing Yards:  4295  2935
Passing Touchdowns:  39  18
Passer Rating:  108  81.2
Turnovers:  13  19
Rushing Yards  259  253
Rushing Touchdowns:  2  2

Plus, which pass catching group would you rather have?
A: Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jermichael Finley
B: Jerome Simpson, Michael Jenkins, Jarius Wright, Devin Aromashodu, Kyle Rudolph

Enough said.

Betvega Odds: 35/1
My odds: 45/1

Indianapolis Colts:
Optimist: CHUCK STRONG! We are the worst double digit wins team in NFL history, and we won 11 games. We have a horrible defense, a bad run game, and a rookie QB. Our special teams are average. How do you explain the eleven wins then? Easy. Chuck Pagano. When diagnosed with leukemia, the Colts took matters into their own hands and continues to win. Thankfully, Chuck is now back with the team and coaching. Chuck Strong can and will last for four more weeks.

Pessimist: Yeahh.. Thank God for Pagano being healthy, but I don’t really believe this Chuck Strong nonsense. This is a below average team, and getting to the playoffs was their super bowl. Maybe we can contend in a few years, but it isn’t happening this year.

Betvega odds: 40/1
My odds: 60/1

Cincinnati Bengals:
Optimist: Talk about a great time to start a hot streak. When we started 3-4, everybody counted us out. Well, since then we’ve won seven of eight games. The only loss was by one against Dallas. Geno Atkins and A.J. Green in particular have led us. Atkins is a very underrated defensive tackle, as he piled up 53 tackles, 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two passes defended. Green had 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he is a great talent. Andy Dalton has been very solid this year, and I’d take him over QB’s like Matt Schaub (who we are playing) and Joe Flacco. If we beat the Texans- which is likely due to the current trends- we will be able to sneak in to Denver and beat the Broncos, who will be looking ahead to their matchup against the Patriots. That matchup will never happen. Instead, it will be Bengals-Patriots, and we match up well against the Patriots, with a good pass rush and a great passing offense.

Pessimist: The Bengals are less likely than any other playoff team to win the super bowl, because even if they beat a 12-4 team in the first round, they will have to go play Denver in round 2 no matter what. That is the nightmare scenario for us, as we match up horribly with Denver. They are better than us in every phase of the game, and would probably double digit favorites at home against us. We have no chance.

Betvega odds: 40/1
My odds: 65/1

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Comments
  1. philabundant says:

    really like this format

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