Stats don’t mean anything, they say, but stats can tell you why things happen. There’s some ‘splaining to do after the NFL Division Round playoff games.
Green Bay Packers 48, Atlanta Falcons 21.
The Falcons at home were three-point underdogs to the Packers, so Green Bay’s win doesn’t count as an upset. The shock was the jaw-dropping 27-point margin of victory. Green Bay not only out scored Atlanta, they out-pointed the over / under line for the game (44). Nobody saw that coming. How could we be so off?
A second look at the regular season stats highlights that the 2010 Falcons were a perfectly balanced, perfectly average team. Atlanta ranked 16th of 32 teams on offense and defense. For all of their injuries, the Pack were the eighth best defense and ninth best offense, again a near-perfect balance and above Atlanta’s average level.
Perhaps the Packers’ early loss of RB Ryan Grant that led them to lean on QB Aaron Rodgers more. Rodgers is playing out of his mind in the post-season. The Falcons needed its running game to keep Rodgers off the field. It wasn’t sturdy enough to defeat the Packers defense. Michael Turner was contained to 39 yards. Take away his first quarter touchdown run and the Pack held Turner the Burner to 27 yards, or three yards per attempt. The Packers made the Falcons a one-dimensional offense.
Rodgers is getting universal accolades for the win; thus always with quarterbacks. This win had as much to do with defense as with Rodgers and was entirely predictable by looking at the stats.
New York Jets 28, New England Patriots 21
We really should have seen this coming. New England’s gaudy offense and decade of dominance blinded us to what was staring us in the face. The No. 1 team on the Bloguin and other power polls had the lowest ranked (25th) defense of any team in the playoffs. But hey, it’s the Patriots. It’s Belichick. It’s the post-season. Lets suspend the truism that defense wins championships.
Except for points allowed, New England’s regular season performance on defense wasn’t all that different that Washington’s much maligned 3-4 defense. The Patriots allowed 1,056 offensive plays averaging 5.6 yards per play. They were decent at stopping the run, allowing 4.1 yards per attempt to the Redskins 4.6 yards. The Patriots could stop the Jets LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Green when needed.
There is more to this game than stats. The Jets performed as if they wanted this win more than the Pats. You cannot measure that intangible with numbers.
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