2014 NFL Divisional Round – does the truth lie in the numbers ?

76-48 YTD (61.3%)
8-2 L2 weeks, let’s ride that streak into the divisional round. I am super busy these weeks, so I won’t have a write-up this time. Will just post a few stats regarding the Ravens game. I have futures on Ravens and Panthers, so maybe I am going to hedge a little bit. But that’s what I’ve locked in and would play anyway:
Carolina Panthers +11 -112
Baltimore Ravens +7 -116
Dallas/Packers Over 52.5 -109
Baltimore Ravens to win SB at 33-1 & 49-1
Carolina Panthers to win NFC at 22-1 (tailing LC)
Ravens/Panthers in SB at 436-1
I’ve been reading a lot of comments about how bad the Ravens defense and how good the Patriots defense is. Let’s take a look at some defensive stats. Those are stats in which the time of possession and number of attempts are eliminated. I always use the efficiency on a single down/attempt to compare teams.

                   Ravens #8 / Patriots #12
                  Ravens #3 / Patriots #9
Run efficiency:                   Ravens #1 / Patriots #21
Yards per pass attempt:     Ravens #15 / Patriots #16
Sack percentage:               Ravens #4 / Patriots #18
Third down conversion %:  Ravens #16 / Patriots #17
Red Zone TD %:                 Ravens #2 / Patrios #7
Offensive PPG:                   Ravens #8 / Patriots #7
Offensive TD per game:      Ravens #4 / Patriots #6

Panthers @ Seahawks
I always try to cap the playoffs in a little different way than regular season games. I will not say anything about Seattle, because everyone should know their strengths. Just take away a major part of the season. The Panthers were 3-8-1 at one point. They have been dealing with big injury trouble and the worst o-line in the league filled with rookies and undrafted players. They adjusted. Even though the schedule of the last five games of Seattle was better than the one of the Panthers L5, just compare those two teams. Seahawks scored their opponents out by an average of 22-7, Panthers 28-12. Panthers rank 2nd in takeaways and 4th in sacks during that stretch, Seahawks rank 6th and 2nd. Panthers have improved significantly on defense. Their three rookie DBs adjusted so well. Bene Benwikere turned into a shutdown corner while Benwikere, Byndom and Boston overall play the adjusted schemes so well. According to Pro Football Focus, Benwikere was the second-best cornerback in the month of December. Both safeties were ranked in the top10 in December. And the Panthers played at NO, at ATL and against Mike Evans, so they didn’t have a crappy passing schedule. The passing game of the Seahawks is average. Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart have been the best rushing tandem in the league lately and the Panthers have installed one heck of a run game with all players healthy. In the final five weeks of the regular season, Stewart rushed for the 2nd most yards per game and yards per carry. You have a very well improved o-line that got to know the schemes for the players and you have a rushing attack of Newton, Stewart, Williams, goal-line-Tolbert and Whittaker, all healthy. Season-long, the Seattle o-line ranks 23rd in pass-blocking efficiency while the Panthers one ranks 26th. But the difference: During the hot five-game streak, the Seahawks o-line didn’t get any better while the Panthers o-line had the second-best o-line in the league. Strong defense, strong running game, average passing game. You have to equal teams here, considering the last five games from both. And one team is getting 11 points.
I expect a tough defensive game from both teams, so small things will likely decide the outcome of this game. The Seahawks d-line was lacking depth all season long and the pass-blocking efficiency of the Panthers has been 2nd best in the league lately. This could be a factor during the second half.
Seattle have a penalty rate of 0.42, 30th in the league. Panthers rank 7th with 0.30. Overall, Seattle has been the most-penalized team in the NFL. Could be a factor.
Will the Seahawks win by 17 points and make a clear statement ? Maybe. Will the Panthers have a shot at winning the game on the last drive ? Maybe. I will gladly take the hot dog getting 11 points who plays without pressure and who stayed in rhythm the last two weeks.
Denver Broncos -9.5 -110
I expect the Broncos to roll here. It’s not a Colts fade, but a play on the Broncos regarding the mismatches this team is able to create tonight. I see the same matchup then in week 9 when the Chargers played at Denver on a Thursday night game. YOu can almost take my write-up from that game and exchange Chargers into Colts. Chargers had a very good passing offense at this point but no single run game and a suspect defense that looked good at times but didn’t face any competition. Today it’s probably the best defense in the league against a one-dimensional Colts offense that has to rely on Andrew Luck who will get pressure from the mighty Denver d-line. Last season Luck has had one of the easiest games. He had so many time looking for an open receiver, it was unbelievable. That won’t be the case today as the Denver pass rush will cause some major trouble. The Denver offense against the Colts defense ? IMO it’s a big mismatch. Any good passing offense is able to torch this defense. Don’t take the game against Cincy into consideration when the Bengals played without Green and Gresham for four and three quarters. Will be a whole different story. Peyton Manning can torch them a lot and I expect him to do so. Seeing a 14+ Denver win. Andrew Luck’s time will come for sure, but their playoff run will be over tonight.
Sticking with the Over in the GB/DAL game. Can’t wait for this matchup to begin. Have a good evening fellas !

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