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Divisional Round - Inside the Numbers

Much has been said this week about how "boring" the first 3 playoff games this past weekend were.  Like most of you, I was certainly glad the Colts game had little excitement, with the Colts handing the Ravens a 20-3 loss, their 8th straight win over the Ravens.  For better or worse, the Colts own the Ravens.  I said it back in Week 3, and I'll keep saying it.  I'd love for the Colts to play them each and every year in the playoffs.

A couple more dominating notes:

  • The Colts have now gone 3 straight games against the Ravens without allowing a Touchdown.  Pretty awesome.  They've also gone 2 straight Playoff games against the Ravens without allowing a Touchdown.  From Elias:
    It's only the fourth time in NFL postseason history that one team has beaten another twice within a four-year span, while pitching a "touchdown shutout" in each case. The Baltimore Colts beat the Browns twice in that manner in 1968 and 1971; the Giants dominated the 49ers in the 1985 and 1986 postseasons; and the Eagles stopped Tampa Bay in that manner in 2000 and 2001.
  • Also from Elias:  Only two other times in NFL Postseason history has a team won a game while averaging under 2 yards a carry rushing (1.68), and under 6 yards per pass (5.07).  Thankfully the offense did other things well, as you'll see soon.

How did the Winning Stats look, and how were my predictions?  Follow me after the jump...

Here are the stats from a victorious Divisional Round.  Rankings are for all Playoff games since 2001:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 72.7% 72 54.5% 18 Y N 35-4
ANPY/A 4.957 117 2.583 31 N N 43-4
Turnovers 1.00 36 4.00 11 Y N 56-11
Yds/Drive 25.00 135 27.00 76 N N 29-4
ToP/Drive 3:05.3 49 2:36.2 87 N N 44-8
Yds/Play 3.873 175 4.909 79 N N 25-13
First Downs/Drive 2.00 51 1.20 33 Y N 27-7
3rd/4th Down 43.8% 72 33.3% 56 Y N 38-10
Avg Start Pos 24.0 171 23.9 20 N N 49-9
3 and Outs 5.00 123 4.00 71 N Y 29-13
RZ Eff 81.0% 50 21.4% 13 Y N 37-14
Plays/Drive 6.455 33 5.500 94 Y N 34-13
Penalty Yds / Play 0.352 36 1.164 27 Y N 28-19
RB Success 28.0% 175 42.1% 78 N N 26-21
Yds/Carry 1.68 186 4.58 143 N Y 22-21
Net Punts Yds/Game 45.83 10 41.80 152 N N 23-22
Ranking - 192 Games 94 23 35

Let's go over my keys to the game:

  • The Top 4 categories for Colts Offense / Ravens Defense were very good coming in.  The Colts Offense definitely won in DSR and Turnovers, didn't do so hot on ANPY/A and Yds/Drive.  Call this a draw for these two units.  Flip the sides, and the Colts defense dominated all 4 categories.  Coincidence?  I think not.
  • Yards / Drive would lead to Colts victory: Even though the Colts led the NFL in this stat during the regular season, they did not fare too well on Saturday.  Guess it didn't really matter that much.
  • Time of Possession / Drive wouldn't matter:  The Colts did win both sides of the ball, but they both weren't above average.  Nothing to see here.
  • 3rd/4th Down Conversion Pct key for Colts: Both Offense and Defense above average for the Colts, including the big 4th and 4 conversion, leading to a TD. 
  • Scoring TDs vs. FGs: The Colts were right at their normal regular season pace of ~80%, and the Ravens could only muster a FG in 2 trips.  We already discussed the Ravens difficulty scoring Touchdowns against the Colts.
  • Don't expect too much from the Colts running game, but they will be successful: Do I get half credit?  Bad YPC, bad Success Rate = Didn't matter.  The Ravens were above average on both sides in YPC.  It clearly didn't matter.  Remember, even in the playoffs, Passing > Rushing.
  • Drive-Extending Penalties: Sweet Sassy Molassy, get out the checkbook and pay Grandma for the rubdown!  The Ravens did their part in helping the Colts on a couple occasions.  Also, their 3 points had a drive extending offsides penalty on Mathis(?) that clearly was not. 
  • Quick Start / Score First: Opening drive FG = Ravens loss.  I hope you all took that as a good sign when Stover put that one through the uprights.  The Colts didn't do the hurry-up no huddle, but I guess I'll let it slide.
  • Overall, the Colts were in the top 20% of all playoff games since 2001.  The defense played fantastically (like you needed stats to tell you this), and the offense was average.  It reminds me of those games in '06, when the defense was damn good...
  • Lastly, I want to give a huge Tip of my Hat to Pat McAfee, who punted spetacularly (10th best playoff game since '01).  

I was slightly off on the score, but had the margin correct.  I shouldn't have doubted the defense, in that they wouldn't have given up a Touchdown.

One last piece of information:  Let's see how all the winners of this year's Playoff games have done (click on headers to sort):

Team Opponent Round Score Offense Defense Total
Jets Bengals WC 24-14 70 43 31
Cowboys Eagles WC 34-14 25 31 12
Ravens Patriots WC 33-14 109 20 40
Cardinals Packers WC 51-45 7 158 56
Saints Cardinals DIV 45-14 3 36 5
Colts Ravens DIV 20-3 94 23 35
Vikings Cowboys DIV 34-3 83 15 18
Jets Chargers DIV 17-14 144 53 102

Lots of great performances, except for the Colts opponent this coming Sunday, who, by these numbers, were outplayed by the Chargers by a small margin (96-97 would be most even game).  Will it matter? Probably not, as teams have been outplayed in the past and still won (like both Steelers Super Bowl wins).