This NFL handicapper uses advanced metrics & statistics like DVOA to rank the offensive power of the playoff teams. Take advantage of his free betting advice to apply to your next picks.
Jason’s 2014-15 postseason record: 1-1 ATS, 0-1-1 Totals
Ah, nothing like a clean betting slate. We managed to split our two AFC picks against the spread, although it took a cheap safety for us to avoid getting blanked against the totals. Perhaps we should have been less enthusiastic about adding the OVER to our NFL pick in that Bengals-Colts game. We were dazzled by Andrew Luck and the Colts offense, but they finally played down to their mediocre level.
What’s that? The Colts offense, mediocre? That’s according to the efficiency-based statistics at Football Outsiders. Unless you’ve been handicapping under a rock, you know about these guys, and you know about DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). Instead of relying on unreliable conventional stats like yards per game when we make our football picks, we need to use advanced metrics that take things like strength of opposition into account. With that in mind, here are the remaining eight teams in the NFL playoffs, ranked by offensive efficiency during the 2014 regular season.
1. Green Bay Packers (No. 1 overall, No. 2 pass, No. 6 rush)
Life is good when you’ve got the overwhelming MVP favorite on your team. QB Aaron Rodgers (112.2 passer rating) has thrown 38 TD passes to just five interceptions, while RB Eddie Lacy (4.6 yards per carry) is a star in his own right.
2. Denver Broncos (No. 3 overall, No. 3 pass, No. 7 rush)
You may have heard about Peyton Manning (101.5 passer rating) and his diminishing returns over the past month or so, but that’s partly because RB C.J. Anderson (4.7 yards per carry) has been killing it since taking the top job in November.
3. Dallas Cowboys (No. 4 overall, No. 4 pass, No. 3 rush)
Will people ever stop bashing Tony Romo (113.2 passer rating)? Probably not, but thanks in large part to an improved offensive line, Romo and RB DeMarco Murray (4.7 yards per carry) have led Dallas to five straight wins at 4-1 ATS.
4. Seattle Seahawks (No. 5 overall, No. 10 pass, No. 1 rush)
Russell Wilson (95.0 passer rating) isn’t the biggest thrower out there, but he can run like the wind (7.2 yards per carry), and Marshawn Lynch (4.7 yards per carry) has been known to cause earthquakes.
5. New England Patriots (No. 6 overall, No. 5 pass, No. 14 rush)
Nope, Tom Brady (97.4 passer rating) isn’t quite done yet, especially with TE Rob Gronkowski (82 catches, 12 TDs) playing close to a full season. But can the Patriots win without a bell-cow running back?
6. Baltimore Ravens (No. 9 overall, No. 6 pass, No. 18 rush)
You might think those pass/rush stats are backward with noted game-manager Joe Flacco (91.0 passer rating) at quarterback and Justin Forsett (5.4 yards per carry) coming out of nowhere to save the running game. But remember, we’re talking efficiency here, not raw yardage.
7. Indianapolis Colts (No. 17 overall, No. 13 pass, No. 27 rush)
Which brings us to the Colts. Luck (96.5 passer rating) has thrown 16 interceptions this year, just two fewer than Chicago’s Jay Cutler. And the ground game is a mess with Ahmad Bradshaw (4.7 yards per carry) on the injured list, although Daniel Herron (4.5 yards per carry) has shown some flashes.
8. Carolina Panthers (No. 20 overall, No. 23 pass, No. 17 rush)
No surprise to see the only playoff team with a losing record at the bottom of this list. But Cam Newton (82.1 passer rating, 5.2 yards per carry) can get the job done when he protects the ball, and Jonathan Stewart (4.6 yards per carry) is relatively healthy for the first time in three years.