2014 NFL Conference Championship – does the truth lie in the numbers ? Another try.

77-51 (60.2%)
My goal to stay above 61% took a bad hit last week, going 1-3 after Dez Bryant’s incompletion spoiled my over pick. Another thing I’ve learned: In case Peyton Manning comes back next season, don’t bet on him in the playoffs. Generally I decrease my betting amounts the week after I lost. These are my picks this week:
I had a few nice discussions going through the week about the GB/SEA game and I probably have a very opposite view on it than most others on here. Have the Seahawks adjusted since their bad start into the season ? Yes. Do they have the best defense by numbers right now ? Yes. Did they face a good offense during that huge stretch since week 10 ? No. I listed their opponents since the KC win along with their ranking in the following stats: yards per play, yards per pass attempt, yards per carry, run blocking and pass protection of the o-lines according to www.footballoutsiders.com :
Arizona – #28 / #21 / #32 / #25 / #6
San Fran – #23 / #25 / #3 / #10 / #30
Philly – #11 / #12 / #15 / #30 / #9
San Fran – #23 / #25 / #3 / #10 / #30
Arizona – #28 / #21 / #32 / #25 / #6
St. Louis – #19 / #20 / #16 / #17 / #23
Carolina – #21 / #23 / #13 / #27 / #22
Green Bay #1 / #1 / #11 / #8 / #13
Can you smell the discrepancy ? I know Rodgers is hurt, but he has another full week to get healthier. Seattle’s defense has been AWESOME, but they couldn’t prove it against a good offense. So why should I believe they will shut down the Packers offense ?? I can’t.
During the first half of the season we have been talking about their d-line problems, because the Seahawks have been lacking depth. They combined for just five sacks against Denver, Oakland, Dallas and NYG – All teams who have a top-10 offensive-line. Now their d-line suddenly looks HUGE. They didn’t add any depth so why do they look so good right now ? Because they played either teams with bad o-lines OR weak offenses. Arizona allow very few sacks, but Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley are not the greatest QBs on the planet and don’t have the receiving staff to get rid of the ball when they get pressure. Nor do the Arizona Cardinals have a run game. Green Bay has both.
And how about the matchup of the Seahawks offense against the GB defense ? Well, there is another interesting stat. Did you know that just four of Seattle’s opponents this season rank above GB in total defense (yards per play) ? SF (2x), Denver & KC. Seahawks average ppg in those games ? 19 in regulation. GB ranks #10 in total defense with 5.3 yards per play allowed. On the road ? #10 in total defense with 5.4 yards per play allowed. Keep in mind that GB gave up a ton of yards per play in the second half when they were up by a huge amount of points. They allow the 6th fewest first half points, just 0.3 points more than Seattle. In many games they didn’t need to fight until the end.
Seattle will be missing Paul Richardson. That steals depth at the WR position. #11 passing defense, #9 road passing defense against Doug Baldwin, Jermain Kearse & Luke Willson – I am not really afraid.
Keep one thing in mind: Passing means more than rushing to score points and to win long term on both sides of the ball. I made a correlation analysis at the beginning of December. Yards per pass attempt do correlate with scored points for 76% while yards per rush attempt correlate for 22% with scored points. Equal thing on defense. For further information, read this one: http://thepowerrank.com/2014/01/10/which-nfl-teams-make-and-win-in-the-playoffs/

When I sum up all the stuff, there is just one play for me: Green Bay Packers getting more than a TD against a defense that wasn’t tested against a good offense lately.
Green Bay Packers +7.5 -116
Packers +15.5 / Patriots -0.5 -110

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