#5 Indianapolis Colts (Wild-Card Qualifier)
- 2012 Record: 11-5
- Point Differential: -30 (21st)
- Strength of Schedule: -2.8 PPG (32nd)
- Offensive PY/P Rating: 2.53 (24th)
- Defensive PY/P Rating: 2.27 (32nd)
- Net Yards per Pass Attempt: 6.2 (18th)
- Yards per Carry: 3.8 (26th)
- Net Yards per Pass Attempt Allowed: 6.7 (21st)
- Yards per Carry Allowed: 5.1 (31st)
- Number of Bona Fide Superstars: 0
- Unintentional Comedy Potential: Low
#4 Baltimore Ravens (AFC North Champion)
- 2012 Record: 10-6
- Point Differential: +54 (11th)
- Strength of Schedule: -0.5 PPG (17th)
- Offensive PY/P Rating: 2.96 (14th)
- Defensive PY/P Rating: 1.75 (12th)
- Net Yards per Pass Attempt: 6.3 (15th)
- Yards per Carry: 4.3 (12th)
- Net Yards per Pass Attempt Allowed: 6.1 (16th)
- Yards per Carry Allowed: 4.0 (8th)
- Number of Bona Fide Superstars: 1 (Haloti Ngata)
- Unintentional Comedy Potential: Medium
12 P.M., Sunday, January 6th, CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)
Look, if you’ve read this blog at any point in the last two months or so, you probably know what outcome this post is going to predict. I’ve been harping on the Colts’ various inadequacies and over-reliance on luck (and I’m not just talking about Andrew) the whole second half of the season and while they head into the playoffs coming off one of their most impressive victories of the year, there’s not a whole lot their victory over Houston changes about their advanced metrics. They barely beat out Kansas City in the race to avoid the cellar in the Predictive Yards per Play rankings – a rating I’m sure underrates their performance this year to some degree, but also probably gives a much better indicator of their true talent level than their 11-5 record. They don’t rank in the top half of any major efficiency category and Predictive Yards per Play thinks they have the worst defense in the league. The Ravens aren’t exactly the ’85 Bears, but on paper there’s no reason to believe that an above-average team aided by the best home-field advantage east of Seattle should have much difficulty dispatching an overachieving bunch that’s playing so far above their expectations, they can see their house from up there. Baltimore’s a much better club than Indianapolis and they will likely win Sunday afternoon. The end.
Of course, we can’t actually end the blog post there since there’s always a chance of an upset occurring in one single game, no matter how lopsided it may seem on paper. And if there’s one thing the Colts have in their favor besides the oodles and oodles of #Chuckstrong power they’ve acquired since October, it’s that for some odd reason the worst entry into the NFL postseason has had unusual success over the past several years – as in, they win one playoff game and then die in a fiery conflagration the next round. But that’s still much better than what we expected of them, right? I’ve started running Predictive Yards per Play numbers over seasons previous to this one over the couple months and have gotten back to 1997 at this point (I’ll start posting them here once the playoffs end and we need something to talk about in the spring and summer). But for now I can list the playoff teams from that time span that rated most similarly to the Colts (i.e. also sucked) and expound upon their playoff performance. And the results are actually surprisingly decent.
1998 Arizona Cardinals. Also known as “The Year We Thought Jake the Snake Would Turn Into a Viable Quarterback.” And, ultimately, our confidence was proven correct – but only after a trip to Denver. Anyway, these Cardinals went 9-7 despite ranking 20th in Offensive Predictive Yards per Play and 28th defensively and made the playoffs on a Chris Jacke field goal on the last play of the season. From there, they actually went on the road and put the final nail in the Cowboys 1990s dynasty with a shocking win at Texas Stadium. They went to get killed by the Vikings the next week.
2001 New England Patriots. That’s right – one of the most memorable teams in NFL history somehow gets ridiculously low marks from Predictive Yards per Play. THAT BODES WELL FOR ITS FUTURE PREDICTIVE POWER. In a far cry from his later performances, Tom Brady led the Pats offense to a miserable 28th-place ranking (primarily due to weak strength of schedule). Even the defense rated below-average, ranking only 20th and giving rise to the “ONLY OUT OF ANGER” meme that Bill Belichick has become so well known for today. You may remember how they did in the postseason.
2005 Chicago Bears. Went 11-5 despite the lowest-rated offense in the league – Kyle Orton was nowhere near an effective quarterback at this stage, although the legend of his neckbeard was already beginning to grow – and got a first-round bye thanks to an easy schedule and a fourth-ranked defense. Steve Smith then ran circles around Peanut Tillman in the Divisional Playoffs and scarred me for life with his humping of the Soldier Field goalposts. Let’s just move on here, shall we?
2006 Seattle Seahawks. The year after they made the Super Bowl, the Seahawks were ravaged by injuries and slumped to a 30th-place ranking offensively and 21st-place ranking defensively. The only reason they made the playoffs was because they played in the NFC West pre-2011. Thanks to Tony Romo’s botched hold, however, they won their Wild-Card game over the Cowboys and gave the eventual NFC champion Bears all they could handle in the divisional playoffs.
2009 Arizona Cardinals. Another beneficiary of the NFC West’s woes, the Cardinals followed up their Super Bowl appearance in 2008 with a 10-6 record that masked the team’s true quality of play: 20th in offense, 25th in defense. Against the Packers in the Wild-Card Round, however, Kurt Warner played quarterback as well as anyone’s every played it and the Cardinals won in a defensive struggle 51-45. They gave up 45 the next week as well to New Orleans but scored 41 fewer points themselves.
2010 Seattle Seahawks. The undisputed King of Crap Playoff Teams. They beat the Rams in the last game of the season to reach 7-9 (WOOHOO!) despite ranking 29th in offense and 30th on defense. If there’s ever a worse team that makes the playoffs, we should really consider closing the whole thing down. Of course, Marshawn Lynch caused a small earthquake with his performance against the Saints in the Wild-Card Game and the Seahawks won a wildly entertaining game before getting hammered by the Bears the next week.
2011 Denver Broncos. TEEEEEEEEEEEEEBBBBBBBBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW. (They ranked 29th on offense and 19th on defense, by the way).
So out of those seven teams, all but one of them won at least one playoff game – and one of them even won the Super Bowl! Does this mean the Colts are going to win the Super Bowl this season? SOMEONE STILL LOVES YOU ALBERTO RIVERON GIVES THEM 1 IN 7 ODDS TO DO SO. Tell your friends.
Projected Final Score: Baltimore Ravens 31, Indianapolis Colts 20
Team to Bet On If Gambling Were Legal: Ravens (-7)